None Of The Above: The True Call For Change
– by David Matthews 2
In every election since 1976, voters in the state of Nevada have had one option that they could count on to voice their displeasure of the political choices. That option was called “None of the Above”.
Yes, Nevadans had an option on their ballots that said “None of the Above” that they could select if they did not like any of the candidates listed. If the choices were unacceptable, or if an unpopular incumbent ran unopposed, the voters simply checked “None of the Above” (or “NOTA”) and their displeasure was noted.
Granted, the NOTA vote was non-binding. The unpopular unopposed incumbent would still win. The candidate of the party with the most supporters would still win by majority vote in the other races. But they wouldn’t have the illusion of universal acceptance that most other elections across the United States have. Career politicians and their party bosses and their special interest masters would know, along with the rest of the state, that the voters are really not happy with their choices and that they want someone – anyone - better for the job.
Well apparently this is a dangerous idea for the GOP. So the Republican National Committee recently got one of their friends in the federal court to strike down the NOTA option.
US District Judge Robert C. Jones, appointed by President George W. Bush in 2003, struck down the NOTA option on behalf of the GOP, buying into the claims made by the GOP that a NOTA majority would supposedly usurp any “legitimate” victory from the candidates on the ballot. According to them, there is no such thing as a “non-binding” option; either the voters vote for a candidate or they vote for “nothing”. Or, as their attorneys argued, it means voting for anarchy.
Bear in mind that in the thirty-six-plus years of its existence in Nevada, the only state that actually has this option, NOTA has never gotten the majority in any race. But in races where the margin for victory is close, GOP bosses pompously presume that any such protest vote supposedly takes a vote away from them.
What actually bothers me is the half-assed way that the NOTA option was defended by the state. Deputy Attorney General Kevin Benson told the judge that the NOTA vote was really no different than not voting at all.
“You’re free to stay home on the couch,” he said.
With any possible respect to the offices – and nothing but – Mister Benson, you are an idiot for planting that idea, because that is precisely what the party bosses have always wanted disgusted voters to do!
Let’s get brutally honest here… it is the goal of the career politicians and their special interest “friends” to keep you, the voting public, as far away from the voting booth as possible so they can keep the power they currently have. They do not want you voting. And, in fact, they really do not need you voting if you’re not one of their die-hard supporters.
It comes down to math. Let’s suppose you have a career politician in the GOP. That career politician (let’s make him male for the sake of argument) knows that out of the whole voting populace, he can count on thirty percent of the voters to be on his side no matter what happens. He’s bought their favor either by hook or by crook, or sometimes even out of blind-stinking habit. He doesn’t have to prove anything to that group. He knows that they will be voting for him no matter what he says or does.
Now let’s suppose that the Democrats have a candidate of their own (let’s make it a woman) to run against the incumbent GOP career politician. The Democrat can count on roughly thirty percent of the voters to support her no matter what.
That leaves roughly forty percent of the whole voting populace that cannot be confirmed to vote for either party.
Traditionally, the candidates would then make a play for that forty percent; to convince those “unconfirmed” and “undecided” voters to show up at the ballot box and to vote for them. You would hear about how a candidate would “pander to the extreme” for primaries and then “shift to the middle” for the general election. This past year it was ridiculed as being the “Etch-A-Sketch” tactic.
But somewhere along the way, the game changed. Remember, this is not about the majority of the populace. This is about the majority of the voters. So if the incumbent can count on thirty percent of the voters to be there no matter what, and the challenger can only count on “about” thirty percent, then the incumbent still has the numerical edge. Rather than try to pander to the forty percent that cannot be counted on, the campaigns have decided to simply chase them away with the political equivalent of “Mutual Assured Destruction”; only with them, it’s not done for brinksmanship, rather it’s done for maximum political carnage.
This is the real reason why politics became so nasty. This is the real reason why “dirty tricks” exist and persist in America. It has nothing to do with “exposing the truth” about any given candidate. It has to do with scaring off that forty percent from even bothering to vote, and possibly even taking out some of that thirty percent in the other camp. They know that as long as their “core supporters” show up, they don’t need any more votes. They just have to chase all the others away from the ballot box.
So given all of that, where can you truly voice your displeasure about the way things are? Where is the method that sends a clear and unmitigated message that the masses are not happy with the destructive status quo?
Stay at home? That is precisely what the politicians and special interest groups want you do to! It says absolutely nothing about the way things are, because there are many other reasons why people don’t vote.
Did you forget to vote? Did something come up at the last minute? Are you even registered to vote? Are you sick? Are you in jail or hospitalized? Are you away from your voting district? Do you even know where it is? Or, as the politicians instantly brand that group to be, do you just not care? And if you don’t care enough to vote, then why should they care about you?
So how can you differentiate between political disgust and political apathy if the only supposed “recognized” option according to the GOP is to not vote? The answer is you cannot. And, again, that is by design!
The only way to truly measure voter displeasure of the parties and the politicians is if there is that specific “None of the Above” option on all ballots! Nothing else will convey that message, period!
You need to understand, as I know the politicians and their ilk already do, that perception plays more of a factor in politics that in any other vocation in the world. If you do not vote, then you do not count as far as both the politicians and the media are concerned!
If only twenty percent of the registered voters bother to vote in any given election, then the politicians and the media will focus all of their attention on that twenty percent and forsake the eighty percent that did not vote. That twenty percent becomes the new one-hundred-percent. And if three-fourths of those actual voters vote for the incumbent, then it becomes a “landslide majority”, when, in reality, it only had the support of fifteen percent of the registered voters.
Adding a “None of the Above” option throws a monkey-wrench in their game. It gives the people who would otherwise stay at home a reason to voice their objection to how things are, and do it in a way that cannot be whitewashed by the politicians and the media.
In the 2010 Senate race in Nevada for incumbent Harry Reid’s office, 16174 votes were cast for “None of the Above”. While it would not have changed the outcome, the politicians cannot ignore those votes either. Those are sixteen thousand voters in Senator Reid’s district that did not stay home. They did not just toss their hands up and say “They’re all crooks, so why bother?” They did not choose “the lesser of two evils”. They didn’t just pick a name at random or try to write-in their dog. They specifically selected “None of the Above” and told both the Democrats and the GOP “You have failed us.”
Imagine what kind of shockwaves would result if a NOTA option was required for all elections in America! Think of all of the supposedly “secure” incumbent offices that would suddenly find out that their “unchallenged support” is really a myth. How many people that would otherwise not seek public office for fear they would not “stand a chance of winning” would suddenly get newfound confidence after “None of the Above” became an option?
And contrary to the lies spread by the GOP, a non-binding option really does mean non-binding! Their own party here in Georgia recently asked voters in their non-presidential primary four questions about abortion, casino gambling, legislative ethics, and charter schools. While I’m sure the GOP would be quick to follow up the majority support over banning abortion and re-regulating charter schools, I seriously doubt that they would ever follow through with casino gambling or ethics reform. If the GOP truly believes that nothing on a ballot is “non-binding”, then I challenge them to follow through with that when it comes to supporting casino gambling, as the majority of GOP voters in Georgia so approved!
Our career politicians currently hold power based on the tenuous idea that is “by the consent of the governed” and that this “consent” is granted through the majority of voters. But in their efforts to silence dissent and silence voters through their various schemes and manipulations, we discover that this idea of “consent” is really just a myth. It’s not “consent of the governed” as much as it is “manipulating the compliant”. It is a state of de facto despotism where a tiny majority are able to rule over the masses through fraud and manipulation.
In other words, in squelching “None Of The Above”, the GOP as a party has shown their true political colors. They are not supporting a democracy inside a republic as their predecessors once did. They are instead supporting an apathy-fueled kleptocracy.