Do you remember in high school student council elections, when people would wonder whether Porky Pig or Bugs Bunny might win on the write-in vote? Some liked the idea of making light of the voting process – a standard bit of high adolescent mischief that acknowledged the insignificance of the offices of student government. Others – mostly teachers I expect – frowned on the idea. Voting for officers of student government is supposed to prepare you for good citizenship after you leave school. People who make a joke out the their vote should not vote all in this more sober view.
Suppose we were to sow mischief in a presidential election? We have only two weeks until November 6, 2012 – that’s not enough time to mount much of a play. November 2016, however, is 410 weeks away. That should be enough time to make more than a little mischief. We need to find ways to engage in civil disobedience – disobedience that has an effect, but that does not get you beaten, jailed, or otherwise subject to the state’s considerable power. The time for more direct challenges will come later, if the early challenges engage enough people and leave their mark.
I want to digress for a paragraph, then return to this matter of elections in a future post. The Occupy Wall Street people created the first signs of civil resistance to hail the coming turmoil. The movement’s name immediately communicated its means, if not its long-range goals. The people involved would occupy space they were not supposed to occupy – they would place themselves where they could not be ignored, and stay their until forcibly removed.
Two things, however, happened during the occupation. First, the movement did not articulate clearly why they went to the trouble. They talked a lot, but they did not have a plan or a coherent reason for being. Second, they became embroiled in discussions and uncertainty about whether they had a legal right to occupy those public spaces. The matter went to local courts or other authorities. Gradually, their status as resisters became a matter for judges and lawyers. They had lost their moral edge, and became a threat to public health that had to be moved out of the way. By the time the police moved in, people who might have backed them seemed ready to say goodbye.
That’s all for now.