Another Modest Proposal: The Only Thing We Must Change Is Change Itself

by Scott Huggins

So, the Presidential campaign this year has given us two of the least-regarded Presidential candidates in history, and while it is certainly short on integrity, vision, and even intelligent rhetoric, one thing it will never lack is people telling you how you have to vote. Medium reminds us, in the ponderous tones of the pedantic that there is no such thing as a protest vote in an article with that title.

The author’s point, if one clears away the condescending lectures on the fact that we have an Electoral College, is that since “no one” is listening to or cares about your useless “protest vote” (that’s a vote for anyone but half of the Clintrump chimera) then you are really only allowing everyone else to decide whom they prefer.

“Throwing away your vote on a message no one will hear, and which will change no outcome, is sometimes presented as ‘voting your conscience’, but that’s got it exactly backwards; your conscience is what keeps you from doing things that feel good to you but hurt other people. Citizens who vote for third-party candidates, write-in candidates, or nobody aren’t voting their conscience, they are voting their ego, unable to accept that a system they find personally disheartening actually applies to them.”

Now according to this, only an act that results in a change is morally responsible, and I might agree with that, but what the author is actually contending (and does not admit to contending) is that change only counts if it is immediate and visible. And that’s just ridiculous. In fact, it’s actually extremely harmful. It’s part and parcel of what I wrote about two weeks ago when the Wichita barbecue was criticized for not leading to “change.”

What is ironic is that the people who seem most hostile to this idea that change can come slowly and invisibly should be the ones who understand it the most. The Civil Rights movement in this nation suffered what must have looked like decades of dormancy. From the founding of the NAACP in 1909, it would take 55 years to topple Jim Crow. It would 45 years even to strike down Plessy v. Ferguson. Yet where would Martin Luther King have been without the long, quiet years of raising scholarship money for men like Thurgood Marshall? Was that an act of ego? Of course it wasn’t.

Those who have insisted on change, change NOW at any cost, have left a devastating legacy: John Brown insisted on immediate change, and pushed the nation closer to Civil War.

But hey, if we agree that only acts that result in immediate change is morally responsible, then hell, let’s take that principle to it’s logical conclusion. According to people who agree with this article, people who are voting red in blue states, or blue in red states, are only voting their egos. I guarantee you, no one in Washington D.C. wants to hear why you are voting for Trump, and no one here in Kansas wants to hear why you’re voting for Clinton. In fact, Gary Johnson, judging by past elections, is statistically more likely to win electoral votes in this election than either of those electorates is to flip in the College.

So if you’re not voting your ego, you have to vote with the majority. That’s the only rational choice: not to have one. Only voters in swing states should be voting for the candidate they prefer. Remember, this election isn’t about you! It’s about not hurting people with your selfish desire to have the candidate that your obviously ignorant self has the temerity to think is best!

Can’t stomach voting with the majority? Stay home. Oh, but wait, we can’t do that! That wouldn’t bring change either! So if you can’t vote with the majority, and you can’t stay home, then the only other thing to do is to… what?

Revolt? Rebel? “Vote” for REAL change? John Brown style change? The justice that comes out of a barrel of a gun, as Chairman Mao — another fervent believer in change NOW, at any cost* — would say?

It seems the logical conclusion from this whole train of thought, incremental change having been shown to be a lie.

Or perhaps — perhaps rather than Civil War — we might entertain changing the idea that change is the highest good?

If the abolition of democracy is the alternative, it’s a change worth considering.

*to other people, of course. Not to him personally.