Unless citizens throughout America keep him in their thoughts, say his name to themselves over and over, and otherwise believe in him with all their might, Barack Obama may cease to exist, the candidate warned supporters Thursday. . . .
“During these last few days, I call on all Americans to keep thinking happy thoughts,” Obama said. “Otherwise our dream of turning this country around will vanish, as I vanish, leaving nothing behind but a wisp of my memory and a few faint strains of my voice, forever whispering, ‘Yes, we can…. Yes, we can…. Yes, we can.'”
We are nearing the witching hour for the mysterious occult ritual in the United States that I call Vote Voodoo:
Vote Voodoo—The superstitious belief that the choice of how to vote in a single presidential election has a massive existential significance, because every single vote out of 122 million is “a matter of life and death.” The Vote Voodoo practitioner believes in a form of sympathetic magic, in which poking a button on a voting machine calls up tremendous cosmic powers that shape the history of the universe. Vote Voodoo has no actual effect other than to make the practitioner more obsessed next time with making their choice line up with what 60 million other people might choose, so that they can convince themselves that their vote “really matters this time.” [Brainbiter]
Yes, it all comes to a head in a pagan frenzy at sundown on November 4: chanting, spell-casting, ritual sacrifices, voodoo sock monkeys, invoking the spirits of dead politicians, reanimating dead voters, etc. The gifts have already been laid at the two party altars, and the temple prostitutes will begin their election analysis. Then the priests watch approvingly as each worshipper is allowed to personally, if briefly, see eternity by touching the sacred ballot and silently praying for four years of good fortune.
“Vote or die!” was the the slogan employed by a pro-voting advocacy group founded by rapper P. Diddy. When the forces of the American revolution rallied around the phrase “Join or Die,” they were speaking literally. Contemporary slogans, though, are merely attempts at giving politics meaning and consequence which it has not earned. And social pressure to head to the polls follows as voting becomes an almost religious act, a way of worshipping at democracy’s shrine and showing one’s fealty to its ways. [The Case for Not Voting, Culture11, November 2, 2008]
“Your vote is your voice, and there’s more power in it than in most of the things we do. It’s a lost pleasure, the feeling of that power.” [When Duty Calls, NYT, November 3, 2008]
Although I think it is really stupid to place one’s faith in elections, does that mean that I hate democracy and long for the days of Louis XIV? No, I am completely chauvinistic about my country’s heritage, and I think that the US is the finest country in the world and in all of history. To feel otherwise is to deny personal identity and social reality. However, that is no excuse for yoking myself to the worshippers of an arbitrary, manmade idealism.
“There’s a longstanding literature looking at why any rational person would vote, when the chances of actually influencing an election are about the same as getting hit by lightning,” said John Londregan, a professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton. “In most theoretical models, it’s hard to get a predicted turnout above one. That is, one voter.” [When Duty Calls, NYT, November 3, 2008]
Democracy is mainly useful insofar as politicians believe in its power and adjust their behavior accordingly; it is superstitious and dangerous for voters to believe in its power. Politicians are naturally paranoid, believing in all kinds of conspiracies that would deprive them of their rightful godlike powers. It is best that their fear is directed toward the common people.
However, it is an error for voters to believe in the power of conspiracies, including the “conspiracy of fools”; that is, democratic elections. Clarity of purpose, efficiency, and effectiveness all decrease with the increase of the number of people involved, such that the larger the committee and the broader the conspiracy, the less likely that it actually does anything effectively on purpose. On the contrary, voters should be clear that deliberate actions are the result of individuals using their technology, their financial resources, and their personal (one-on-one) contacts, because groups of like-minded people are capable only of herdlike actions.
Where an almost-Blessing has succored this land, now there follows an almost-Curse,
A Biblical curse from Him with Whom we find ourselves at odds,
And chastens the almost-Chosen folk that whored after foreign gods.
I fear that the land will expectorate us, like the heathen who lived here before us,
And we will die out like the Romans of old, or the dodo and brontosaurus.
We have builded an idol offensive to God as the Israelites’ Golden Calf,
But stupider still, and with poorer excuse, and more obnoxious by half.