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The Failure of Elections | Omid Fouladpouri

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article do not reflect the opinions of Pulse Magazine as a whole.

Elections. A cornerstone of US political culture. They happen at least every 2 years, excluding the certain special elections that sometimes happen in-between, and are very often promoted as a means of societal change. We go to the polls, vote in our favorite candidate, and leave happy with a sticker knowing we made a change in our country and were represented in what happens for the following years. However, in this article, the very notion of its efficacy will be under review through the analysis of historic change, modern failure, and analyses of who these systems are truly controlled and influenced by.

To consider what is effective in creating change, what is best viewed is how change has historically been brought about. Through this reasonable approach, we look for historic examples of when mass societal change has been achieved and through which means were used. And when talking about change, what is being discussed is positive societal change that has decreased societal oppression. Those rooting for elections will find an absence of evidence to back up change being brought about through their preferred method. What has been a common factor in historic change was grassroots organizations of movements against oppression and societal pressure. Let’s take a look at the origin of the 8 hour workday and eixistence of the weekend. They never were achieved through a politician. Just research the Haymarket affair. Change took the blood, sweat, and tears of many workers over many years. They originated through the formation and strengthening of the labor movement and labor unions that existed at the time. The change originated through demonstrations for workers’ rights, not through votes. Another example would be the Civil Rights Movement, in which the wins achieved were done through mass societal movements and pressure.

Considering the success and demonstrable effect of mass societal movements being the near sole motivator of societal change, people who want change should organize and work in those methods. The workers’ movements were formed as a result of the workers being fed up with their conditions and organizing on local and national levels to form a mass movement promoting their rights. They engaged in strikes, boycotts, sabotages, and various other means of organizing that they viewed satisfactory. Through many actions, as has been described, societal change is then slowly brought about. Unfortunately, existing large movements fighting for change don’t really mimic the past movements that have actually brought about change. The Sunrise Movement, for example, is a good starting point for action, but it still falls into the same issues that voting does. Effective movements didn’t limit themselves to what those in power viewed as favorable means of achieving change. The workers’ movement, for example, didn’t take advice from bosses on what actions they should take. The issue of organizations like the Sunrise Movement is not what they are advocating, but the fact they seek to appease those in power instead of legitimately opposing them on their own terms, instead of accepting the terms given to them.

A question is posed: Why is it an issue to appeal to those in power, and why is resisting the influence of structures of power so necessary? Well, power itself has only one goal. Defending itself. The structures of power, such as the federal government, seek to achieve a maintenance of the status quo for a variety of reasons. The rulers clearly benefit through corporate donations, but also through how the system is structured. The structure of worker and boss is built in a way where they are necessarily in opposition to one another. The boss wants to maintain the relations and conditions which already exist, and the worker wants to change the relations and conditions which already exist. Through representing the tendency of power in this way, it can be understood why attempting to appeal to power when one is trying to create change is so necessary to avoid.

In considering all of this, one must ponder the depths of thought on the topic and consider better ways to bring about change in all of society through the analysis of historic change, rather than the mainstream narrative. Mainstream narratives are built to help maintain the status quo. Once this is realized among the masses, the status quo can never remain the same.

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