The Folly of the American Voter, or Montezuma’s Revenge Makes for a Crappy Election

unnamed-55First things first, a little Midterm Election public service announcement:

If you’re not sure where to vote on Election Day (Tuesday, November 4—as in, tomorrow), visit Google and type “WHERE TO VOTE.”

A Polling Place Lookup tool will pop up at the top of the query results page. Then just type your residential address to find your local polling station.

Google also boasts a “HOW TO VOTE” tool, but I was disappointed to discover it doesn’t take one straight to an “ELEPHANTS PROHIBITED” sign. (Come on, click the link; you know you want to. This one is pretty nice, too.)

And if you haven’t actually voted in a while and are unsure what kind of identification you need to bring to the polling station, here’s a STATE BY STATE VOTER ID LAW guide.

Beyond this, you’re on your own. “D” stand for “Democrat.” “R” stands for “Redskins Supporter.” And “I” stands for “I’m either a closet Sanders Socialist or a Rootin’-Tootin’ Putinist.”

By the way, if you were planning to vote straight-ticket Republican: “No Civilization for you!”

Now down to brass tacks.

Odds are, someone you love or perhaps respect (or formerly respected)—has voted for the likes of Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, Mitch McConnell, even Rick Scott.

Hell, on November 4, 2008, 60 million Americans voted for Sarah Palin. 60 million. We are talking about the only political candidate in world history who was guaranteed to cause her nation more embarrassment than Nero did for Rome.

Since day one, my Forward Progressives bio has read:

His foremost writing interests include religion, unraveling theodicy and trying to understand why voters commonly vote against their own self-interest.

I have to confess that I haven’t made a lot of progress on that last clause. With Election Day literally within reach, my brain has started to itch as I consider the millions of U.S. citizens who are about to cast votes against their own political self-interest.

I still can’t face the fact that 54% of Americans are opposed to Obamacare for reasons other than that the Affordable Care Act doesn’t go far enough toward creating universal healthcare. Yet by supporting candidates determined to devolve our national healthcare system, voters aren’t just hurting themselves—they’re standing in the way of Civilization.

And to those who support anti-regulation candidates—be it with respect to the financial services industry, agriculture, manufacturing, you name it—the only thing bigger than their own self-disinterest is their naiveté concerning the Problem of Evil. Why do you think the Founding Fathers were so determined to establish checks and balances in the first place?!

And those are just two political subjects. The list goes on and on: the perpetuation of the military industrial complex, environmental preservation and global warming, education, distribution of wealth, etc. Millions of Americans will head to the polls on Election Day and willingly vote for political leaders whose agendas are designed to hurt their constituents. It’s enough to make one go Howard Beale on the world:

“I’m a human being, goddammit, my life has value!” Yours does too! So don’t do this to yourself, to me, to your community!

In the meantime, I continue seeking to know why nearly half, or just over half, of 80 million-plus individuals are about to give themselves the voting shaft. Here are two theories, which at this time of the year I apply like an unguent to my political psoriasis-afflicted scalp.

The first is what famed historian Barbara Tuchman calls “religious mania.” The second is what I call Lottery Politics—although I think that Porn Politics might be a more apt term.

Religious Mania and the Folly of the American Voter

Barbara Tuchman was a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian whose great success was her ability to readably present the complexities of history.

In 1984, Tuchman published The March of Folly: from Troy to Vietnam, a book I highly recommend to anyone who simply cannot understand why the Republican Party appears hell-bent on tanking not only the great democracy project known as the United States of America, but also our Little Blue Planet, to boot.

The March of Folly is an analgesic for those who suffer from watching the American electorate vote itself into oblivion. It helps to know we’re not alone in our historical “wooden-headedness.” After all, the citizens of Troy wheeled the Trojan horse into its walls. The Avignon Popes partied like it was first-century Rome. And would-be emperor after would-be emperor marched on Russia in the dead of winter.

One of the greatest examples of political folly in The March of Folly is the defeat of Montezuma by Hernán Cortés, who with his small expedition of 600 men and 17 horses (against a population of 5 million citizens) rolled across the Mexican peninsula and toppled the Aztec Empire with nary a struggle. Today, couch potato scholars point to European disease as the source of indigenous holocaust in Central America. But they forget that the initial Spanish conquering was due to Montezuma’s fundamentalist religious concession that Cortés was the god Quetzalcoatl reincarnated:

One cannot quarrel with religious beliefs, especially of a strange, remote, half-understood culture. But when the beliefs become a delusion maintained against natural evidence to the point of losing the independence of a people, they may fairly be called folly. The category is once again wooden-headedness, in the special variety of religious mania. It has never wrought a greater damage.

Wow. Read that quote again. Sound familiar?

It’s so simple: Pastor Pillows the country over have convinced millions of U.S. voters that Jesus the Door-to-Door Salesman stands at the door with a Glock, waiting to be invited in to sell us hedge funds, chastity belts and Dallas Cowboys bumper stickers. These voters generally haven’t bothered to read the Bible critically, if at all. They crave simple answers to complex questions, and the greedy Gordon Gekkos of this world are more than happy to pump out simpleminded crack rock talking points that coincidentally happen to favor corporate psychopathy.

It’s so much easier to live the life of a sheep, even if that means every once in a while the wolf gets to gnaw your rump.

Lottery Politics: the Scratch-Off Voter

It’s mindboggling how the poor in the United States have been brainwashed to defend the plutocrats. Instead of Stockholm Syndrome, it’s Stock-Share Syndrome.

(Then again, our political cousins across the pond are infatuated with a nobility that sits on more wealth than God, which few seem to mind despite a 20% national poverty rate.)

You really have to be a special kind of ignorant to think that some corporatist living in a Hamptons mansion deserves his segregated, gold-plated life while you and your family lives paycheck to paycheck trying to avoid the Walton Family benefits wrecking ball. And yet…

Seriously, as you read this, some lower middleclass guy on a couch in Des Moines is sitting and cheering Kevin O’Leary saying that it’s terrific that nearly half the world’s population has less wealth than the world’s 85 richest people.

Yeah, right, and I suppose the next thing you’re going to tell me is there’s an African-American Republican U.S. Senator from South Carolina. Um…

So why are so many down-on-their-luck citizens prepared to cast votes favoring the agendas of capitalist bullies?

While Rush Limbaugh and Joel Osteen are a formidable one-two punch, it’s important to remember that we live in a lottery culture. While America is the Land of the Free, it’s also the Home of the Ponzi Scheme.

Millions of Get-Rich-Quick Americans fork over a few bucks on a weekly basis on the off-chance (actually, the 1-in-175 million chance) that they can spend the rest of their life in the lap of unearned luxury.

They imagine themselves rich. They’re convinced they have what it takes—minus a few hundred million bucks—to clink flutes of Dom Pérignon White Gold with the Koch Brothers.

Such greed is seeded within as part of a healthy capitalist upbringing. So many Americans sell their political souls on conservative scratch-off cards. Welcome to economic idealism, baby.

Why did I refer to this as Porn Politics above? Think about it. This is fantasy excess and piggishness lived vicariously through Wall Street molls.


You have one vote to cast on Tuesday.

Will you vote against your own self-interest? Will you vote with religious folly? Will you vote for a fantasy existence you’ll never have?

Or will you vote to preserve and build Civilization? With a vote that makes proud the sons and daughters of democratic freedom who marched on Berlin and Birmingham?

The choice, simply put, is yours.

Our Little Blue Planet depends upon you.

Arik Bjorn

Arik Bjorn lives in Columbia, South Carolina. He was the Democratic Party / Green Party fusion candidate for U.S. Congress in the 2nd Congressional District of South Carolina. Visit the archive for Arik’s campaign website, and check out his latest book, So I Ran for Congress. You can also follow his political activities on Twitter @Bjorn2RunSC and on Facebook. And be sure to check out more from Arik in his archives!


Facebook comments

  • Pitt90

    Well said.

  • Steve Brains

    LAUGHED My ASS OFF when I read “Voters” and “Montezuma’s Revenge” in the same sentence!!!!!

    The PERFECT name for ALL the Texas Latino’s REGISTERED and VOTING in TEXAS!!!!!!!


    Ain’t that the Sh*t!!!

  • Frank Castle

    Let me be the first to congratulate all you Nationalist-socialists; the ‘R’epublicans have won the battle, but you have won the war.
    Without Reid to temper his ‘Royal Prerogatives’, and his more than willingness to jump ahead when their’s a chance, once the ‘R’epublicans announce their watered down version of ‘Amnesty’, the President will immediately roll out his far more dangerous version and the 40 million ‘Green Cards’ exclaiming he can’t wait for Congress anymore.
    Hillary steps forward (get it?) and presents herself as a ‘Moderate’ who won’t move so fast, and the “R’epublicans will throw Jeb Bush at her as if he’s a Moderate Conservative (which you all agree he’s not). Once the attacks on Clinton begin, she will just say that it’s more of the ‘R’epublican War on Woman, in the same vein that the Obama machine denounced any attacks against him as being ‘Racist’.
    Again, congratulations; for winning a war that you didn’t even have to fire a single shot.

    • Stephen Barlow

      Hi Frankie Wankie!

      A) SHOW US ALL when & where Obama made a single claim of racism?

      B) HOW will you mentally handle..
      EVAPORATING before your eyes?

      C) TY on the CON grats!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Frank Castle

        A) Obama make a claim of racism? Please. That’s what Debbie Wasserman Schultz is for.
        B) Wish it were just a head fake. Stand by for News.
        C) You’re welcome, you deserve it (that is unless you don’t go to the polls this morning and keep Reid as Majority Leader).
        If you don’t, and power shifts, Democrats can sit back for the next 2 years and let the GOP be the bad guys in their attempts to inhibit or prohibit Obama’s next dozen or so Executive Power Grabs. Claims of ‘Racism’ will be made from the Democrat shadows, without actually having to take a stance in support. Therefore,, only the GOP gets blamed for not stopping the ‘Royal Prerogative’. January 2016, up walks Hillary, she exclaims that she was always the lone objector to Obama’s fast moves, and pronounces herself as the only true ‘Moderate’ who will take things slow. The GOP has no option but to run Jeb Bush as their best ‘Moderate. The Democratic machines sublimely denigrates the Bush name further, and as with any GOP challenges against Obama where the ‘Racism’ charge sticks, any GOP challenges against Hillary will be met with a very organized ‘GOP is engaging in a War on Women’ campaign.
        Ergo, Hillary is our next president, if you don’t get out the vote and (as Jesse Jackson said it) “Get Out The Bush’s’.
        Please vote today and keep Reid in so that both parties get the blame for what Obama’ about to unleash upon us. Stop Hillary Now. And thank you for your time.

      • youcantgetridofmethateasy

        Never thought it all the way through like that, but you’re spot on. Hillary is our next president if the Leftists stay home today. Personally, I feel they won’t bother to go to the polls; the momentum that the GOP has, will not cause a ground-swell of support for the Democrats.
        They only like fights they’re guaranteed to win. Which explains the total lack of Support for Obama’s War by the Left. Consider me a follower of yours.

  • Bill Checkvala

    I have a middle-aged friend stuck in a job which pays him a middle-class salary and gives him little hope of ever getting above his present position. And yet, this friend consistently votes regulations and for large tax cuts that disproportionately favor the very, very wealthy in this country. Whenever I point out this fact, his reply, without hesitation, it is because he, “wants them to be there for him when he strikes it rich.”

    It’s an all-to-common Lottery mentality

    • Arik Bjorn

      To a “T,” Bill. That’s the get-rich-quick electorate.

    • Stephen Barlow

      Does it HURT to talk to him?

  • Adam G.

    IMO, this happens because, on the surface, many of the GOP battle cries resonate with the American people, even though they’re usually way off base. The GOP tries to speak to the white, Christian, patriotic, free market inner child in every voter and it works on many. With any further research or education a voter would learn these to be incorrect, flawed, extremely biased, or favoring the 1%, but I have to admit it hits home with many. It works because it’s extremely easy to scare American’s into believing their tax dollars shouldn’t be “given away”, that “Ebola is a Threat”, that “the rich control jobs”, that “Government is Inefficient”, that “America should police the world with our superior morals and military”, and to all those hunters and other gun owners that their rights are being infringed upon by any mention of common sense gun reform. People continue to vote for that side because these cries “sound correct” on the surface. I’m in no way saying I agree with these positions, just saying voters are influenced by simple-minded stances when they’re framed in this way.

  • Matthew Reece

    http://www DOT examiner DOT com/article/twelve-arguments-for-voting-and-how-to-refute-them

  • Pipercat

    “Controlling the masses is accomplished by
    distracting the masses, then slowly and quietly extract their remaining
    wealth. It’s simple, efficient and only requires massive dumps of
    (dis)information and some nominal expense. There is no need for constant
    monitoring, no need for blind obedience, no need for policing and no
    for re-education. No need to dumb down the Proles, when it is cheaper
    and easier to “numb them down” instead.”

    Somebody you know got a block quote with this blurb!

    • Charles Vincent

      Quiet prole, and get back in line…

      • Pipercat

        You first little brother!

      • Charles Vincent

        nah where I am going there are no lines lol

      • Pipercat

        Just papers..

      • Charles Vincent

        Papers? We don’t need no stinking papers!

      • Pipercat

        Gimme a Pepsi can then!

      • Charles Vincent

        Have Hookah will travel…

  • glacierstorm

    Perhaps voting Republican is against the interests of working class people. However, progressive policies embraced by Democrats such as increased legal immigration, amnesty for illegal invaders, affirmative action, etc. are not in the interests of working class people, especially if they are white.