By Mike Talavera
Early voting for the midterm elections began this week in the United States in a lead up to November 6, official voting day. As bourgeois politicians hurriedly make their false promises in an attempt to fool more people into voting, militants across the country have taken up an unprecedented election boycott campaign.
Whether it’s online or on the street, the average working person has been under constant bombardment for the past few months by bourgeois campaign advertisements and get-out-the-vote propaganda. It is an unwanted cycle of harassment that working people have been forced to endure for decades.
This cycle will not be stopped in 2018, but it has been aggressively challenged by election boycott propaganda in cities around the country.
A couple of weeks ago, posters reading “Elections no! Revolution yes!” began to be seen in Austin, TX at intersections, on power boxes, and along fences, striking a counter narrative to the mainstream pro-voting agenda.
On the evening of October 1st (the anniversary of the Chinese Communist Revolution), a group of masked protesters gathered in front of the Long Center in South Austin, where lanterns bearing the election boycott slogan, a portrait of Mao Zedong, and the hammer and sickle emblem were lit and released into the sky.
As the lanterns soared, one of the protesters read a speech in support of the election boycott originally called by Red Guards Austin (RGA) in September.
“The imperialists will not be voted out. Whoever you vote for, an imperialist wins,” the spokesperson said. “It is up to you and to all of us to break this cycle, to finally begin exiting the abusive, manipulative relationship between the constituents and the politicians. In Texas, there is only one type of bloodsucker more detested that the mosquito and it is the bourgeois politician! We are right to hate them!”
This is not the first election boycott that has been called by RGA. The communist collective made a public call to action in 2016 to boycott that year’s election, and mass organization Serve The People Austin (STP-A) took up the call. STP-A published a post on September 26 of that year challenging many of the myths behind bourgeois elections, including the notion that not voting is the equivalent of “doing nothing.”
“The way we see it, with how little voting has ever accomplished, voting is far closer to doing nothing,” the post says, “while actively organizing a boycott is no small task because it directly confronts and challenges the whole idea of this ruling-class ‘democracy’ with revolutionary activism and revolutionary ideology.”
STP-A went further than just preaching against the election. On November 8, 2016, the group led a small march to the Montopolis polling station in southeast Austin, where they hung piñatas of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump from a tree. Children from the neighborhood bashed the effigies with sticks, and STP volunteers handed out pamphlets and spoke to passersby about the boycott.
In only two years, the scope of the election boycott has widened significantly and the tactics in support of it have escalated. Revolutionaries in cities like Los Angeles, Kansas City, St. Louis, Charlotte, Houston, and Pittsburgh have echoed RGA’s call to not participate in bourgeois elections.
In Austin, the election boycott propaganda has taken a more confrontational form recently. On October 11, pig heads were found in front of Texas senate candidate Robert Francis O’Rourke’s campaign office in Austin as well as at the gate of the Travis County Clerk’s office with signs calling O’Rourke and incumbent senator Ted Cruz “imperialist pigs.”
Since then, other pig heads have been found elsewhere in Austin, including in a college classroom, at the J.J. Pickle Federal Building, and at a local meeting place of Democratic Socialists of America.
The election boycott campaign currently may still be relatively small compared to the media deluge of bourgeois election propaganda, but looking at the two campaigns in motion tells a different story.
Voting turnout numbers illustrate the masses’ increasing disillusionment with bourgeois elections, especially among the working class, whereas the popularity of the election boycott has exploded in just two years.
There is already a popular passive boycott of the elections, providing ample fuel for the active boycott to grow.
The rising tide of this year’s boycott promises that the 2020 elections, which will include the presidential election, will be boycotted to an extent never before seen in this country.