WHAT TO DO ABOUT BITING THE BULLET AND VOTING “STRATEGICALLY” FOR THE “LESSER EVIL”? INSTEAD OF REPRESENTING YOURSELF, VOTING SO THAT THE OTHER PARTY LOSES?
The motivation for voting strategically is understandable; we do it to protect ourselves from what we fear is the worst possible outcome. “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t” as the old idiom goes. But by voting against what we fear rather than for the change we believe in, we are doing little more than maintaining the status quo, something that is harmful, even dangerous to many of us. There are Indigenous communities that still lack clean drinking water and other critical resources needed in order to survive. Issues of violence, income inequality, and climate change are omnipresent, and the meaningful action needed in order to alleviate suffering and catastrophe cannot be accomplished when we choose to vote strategically over and over again. Slight shifts in a government’s position on the political spectrum don’t help our most vulnerable groups.
Vote what you Believe
Strategic voting is insincere voting, and by engaging in it we are choosing to compromise on our values, and this prevents us from building the movement that we need in order to save the things we care about.
Each person is entitled to their vote, and much of the “lesser of two evils” discussion stems from an electoral system that is not truly representative and that disenfranchises voters, rather than empowers them. We want to change the whole shebang, and that kind of change only comes about when people stop voting out of fear, and start voting for what they believe in!
Building a politics of “Yes!”
Don’t get down on other people for how they vote! The point of democracy is that every person votes how they feel – and that is alright, even if we disagree. So debate, inform friends, and then respect each other and our choices.
The Cascadian way is to vote in true alignment with your principles and with Cascadian values, not the lesser of two evils. This is why a Cascadian should never blame someone for their voting choice.
WHAT ABOUT TRICKY ISSUES THAT DON’T HAVE “ONE RIGHT ANSWER” (E.G. GUN CONTROL) OR WHERE THERE ARE WIDELY VARIED OPINIONS, EVEN WITHIN CASCADIA? WHAT ABOUT WHEN BOTH SIDES OF THE ISSUE HAVE VALID POINTS?
Ask yourself why what you see as the right answer for your community might be different than what others see as right for their communities. Are you being manipulated by an adversarial, zero-sum political system to view others’ needs as less important than your own? Where are the articles coming from that you’re reading, and who is funding them? Are they peer reviewed, or by a trusted media source? What needs are they trying to meet with the opposing viewpoint, and how can you try to meet their needs so that they can help meet yours?
Ultimately, outside of our core principles, different communities in different areas will have different needs, and be the best able to speak for them. This is not only OK, but one of the basic tenets of bioregionalism! And we should encourage each area to find out what works best for them, and to grow those ideas in their watershed.
Look for ways to promote and advocate new or alternative types of voting, like ranked-choice voting, or direct democracy to better reflect these nuanced topics.
Vote in alignment to the principles of the Cascadia Movement:
AN INDEPENDENT CASCADIA BIOREGION
Ask: Does this move Cascadia into a more autonomous position?
Ask: Does this make Cascadia, as a region, more reliant on outside resources, such as federal resources?
COMMUNITY RESILIENCE AND EMPOWERMENT
Ask: Who does this benefit?
Ask: Does this provide resources to communities so they can take care of themselves?
Ask: Does this make it easier for the community to connect with each other?
Ask: How does this effect marginalized or at-risk communities, including the sick, impoverished, refugees, homeless, mentally divergent, or physically differently abled?
DYNAMIC, DEMOCRATIC AND OPEN GOVERNANCE
Ask: Does this help create transparency and accountability within the existing gov’t structure?
Ask: Does it empower citizens or make it easier for every person to be able to vote?
Ask: Does it increase democratic systems of government?
Ask: Does this make it easier to understand the gov’t and what it is doing?
Ask: Does it make it easier to track how taxpayer money is being used?
ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY & BIOREGIONALISM
Ask: Does this help protect or defend our valuable earthly resources?
Ask: What could be the long-term effect on the environment if this comes to be?
INCREASING THE LIVABILITY AND WELL-BEING OF THE CASCADIA BIOREGION
Ask: Does this improve the quality of life for all Cascadians?
Ask: Does this improve opportunities for Cascadians?
Issues this might address: traffic, rent control, housing/real estate, education, etc.
Ask: Does this empower and give autonomy to the people who historically have had control of this land?
Ask: Does it give resources back to tribal leaders?
Ask: Does it support needs identified by the tribes themselves?
PRIVACY, CIVIL LIBERTIES, PERSONAL FREEDOMS
Ask: How will it affect me/others immediately vs. the long term?
Ask: Does this limit the freedoms or options that Cascadians could or do have?
check against The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Freedom of movement and residence, peaceful assembly, etc)- does it put any of these at risk or make them harder for any Cascadians to maintain? – individual person’s right to life, liberty (the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views), and/or personal security or personal safety
Steps you can take to vote Cascadian:
Regardless of how you feel about systems that might not accurately represent us, voting locally is a wonderful way to be involved politically on a bioregional and watershed based level.
Vote according to your own principles, and to help increase our bioregional principles.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK AND BE INFORMED
Find information from diverse sources. Don’t limit your research to a single website, talk-show, or news outlet. Limiting your research to just one source may restrict your understanding of the issues.
Know who is behind initiatives or which groups support which candidates (and why)
Know who is funding the initiative. Is it local, or from outside the area?
Put in the time!
Register to vote, make sure your registration is up to date (current address, name), and identify where your closest polling station or ballot dropbox is.
THINK BEYOND YOURSELF
How will this impact your Cascadian neighbors? (You might not ride mass transit, but think of your fellow Cascadians who do or rely on it)
What do your neighbors need?
THINK BEYOND YOUR IMMEDIATE TOWN/CITY/COUNTY
What are the implications for the bioregion at large? For Northern/Southern Cascadia or across the border? (is this good for the whole region?)
BE WARY OF MANIPULATIVE TACTICS
Things are not always what the sound like and the long-term effects of tricky-worded initiatives can have huge impacts on the community (the ripple effect)
Language is important!
Be on the lookout for buzzwords and coded language. Loaded words and phrases have significant emotional implications and involve strongly positive or negative reactions beyond their literal meaning. These serve as important tells regarding the true intentions of a candidate or initiative.
Be an active listener/researcher. When candidates are using political rhetoric to persuade their audience, it’s important to read between the lines to understand what they are really saying.
When listening to or reading the messages, see if the politicians address the issues/questions raised, or if they use political rhetoric strategies to avoid giving a direct answer.
HAVE A HEALTHY LEVEL OF SKEPTICISM
Candidates often say what voters want to hear. Try to determine how they plan to accomplish the goals they promote in their campaign. If they have been in office already, check out their votes on past issues.
DO NOT BE CYNICAL – Take Action.
Unfortunately, by living in a system which is not representative of our citizens, that seeks to disenfranchise rather than empower, that shifts boundaries and borders to limit the will of voters – many may feel after reading the information in the aforementioned categories that voting will not make a difference.
However, it is important to understand that if more people decide not to vote, especially at a local level, our democracy will be at greater risk. The healthiest democracy is one where everyone participates. At the end of the day, we the people hold the power. It is up to us to be aware of these campaign strategies and create change, but it will only happen if we all do our part.
If you feel that the political system does not represent your needs – take action! Remember that there are a host of ways to get active, or support the causes you find most important outside of elections, and indeed this is where a lot of the real differences are made. Find a cause you believe in, envision a positive future, then work to make that happen. Be pro-active, not just re-active. Voting bioregionally means not only trying to build systems which are more democratic, respecting each person’s choices and voting locally, but working