VOTE AND DIE
Rapper P. Diddy and actor Ben Affleck have something in common other than the asinine Jennifer Lopez. At Mr. Diddy's instigation, Affleck and a posse of "sexy people," as Diddy referred to their defining attribute, have joined together to persuade "young people and minorities" (not to be confused with white, older people who shoulder the tax burden) to vote.
The glitterati enlisted in Mr. Diddy's "Citizen Change" campaign will sport the sartorial slogan "Vote or Die," an allusion, presumably, to the reintroduction of the draft (an idea floated in both parties.)
It comes as no surprise that the media pounced on Mr. Diddy's political epiphany. Have you checked the lineup on the TV news shows, mirrored in the media at large?
There are the Missionaries of Mideast mercy. Their opinions oscillate only slightly on the war – to send or not to send more troops to "liberated"
There are the Republican panel-show Pattons, and the ever-multiplying Stepford sluts who stand by their man – Bush – uncritically. Barely out of short pants (Noah McCullough), neoconservative neophytes are solicited for their sophomoric opinions with a reverence befitting the developmentally challenged.
Yes, the so-called Right's representatives in the media are dopey faux conservative babes, blinded bimbos, and addled anchors, who can't tell their Left from their Right. If they could, they would identify uncontrollable spending, deficits, corporate welfare and subsidies, the invasion of privacy under the Patriot Act, the suppression of peaceful assembly with "free speech zones," and preemptive unconstitutional war, as the handiwork of an enemy of the Right. Their only talent is in outshouting their Democratic sparring partners, who, bar some hard-core socialists like the Nation magazine's Katrina vanden Heuvel, evince the same lack of cerebral agility.
The intervention of Mr. Diddy, the gangsta turned gamekeeper, turns this burlesque into farce. In his favor, however, it must be admitted that his motives are untainted by comparison with the drudges that serve the Tweedledull and Tweedleduller Parties. No doubt he truly believes that every vote counts.
Unfortunately, he is wrong. In "Default and Dynamic Democracy," Loren E. Lomasky observed, "As electorates increase in size, the probability that one's vote will swing the election approaches zero" ... "[I]n large-number electorates, there is a vanishingly small probability that an individual's vote (or voice) will swing an election ... [F]or citizens of large-scale democracies, voting is inconsequential."
The winner in an election is certainly not the fictitious entity referred to as "The People," but rather the representatives of the majority. While it seems obvious that the minority in a democracy is thwarted openly, the question is, do the elected representatives at least carry out the will of the majority?
In reality, the majority, too, has little say in the business of governance – they've merely elected politicians who have been awarded carte blanche to do as they please. As Benjamin Barber wrote:
It is hard to find in all the daily activities of bureaucratic administration, judicial legislation, executive leadership, and paltry policy-making anything that resembles citizen engagement in the creation of civic communities and in the forging of public ends. Politics has become what politicians do; what citizens do (when they do anything) is to vote for politicians.
In Restoring the Lost Constitution, Randy E. Barnett further homes in on why, contra Mr. Diddy, genuinely informed individuals have little incentive to exercise their "democratic right":
If we vote for a candidate and she wins, we have consented to the laws she votes for, but we have also consented to the laws she has voted against.
If we vote against the candidate and she wins, we have consented to the laws she votes for or against.
And if we do not vote at all, we have consented to the outcome of the process whatever it may be.
This "rigged contest" Barnett describes as, "'Heads' you consent, 'tails' you consent, 'didn't flip the coin,' guess what? You consent as well.'"
Mr. Diddy claims he "got educated on how the game works." Now suitably schooled, "I knew I had to utilize my power and my vote to make them stand up and recognize me." His instincts are correct, although what Mr. Diddy has discovered are special-interest politics, likened by Lomasky to "Hobbes's war of all against all, albeit by democratic means."
In fact, in the rigged game that is democracy, those who have the money and the time can prowl the halls of power to ensure that their causes are privileged. "The tyranny exercised by well-entrenched minorities over unorganized majorities," in Lomasky's words, now that's the democratic reality Mr. Diddy and his "sexy" friends have uncovered.
His vote won't count for much, but Mr. Diddy's money, celebrity and pigmental pull certainly will.
©By ILANA MERCER
August 6, 2004