In Praise of Vote Shaming

After putting in several days with the thousands (yes thousands) of volunteers canvasing for Antonio Delgado in the hard fought NY19th congressional district, it occurred to some of us that the best use of our time time- that which was most likely to put the Democrat over the top- was to switch tactics.

The Green Party candidate in NY 19 was polling at over 3% in the week before the election. As has been the case for Greens for at least a decade, votes for him would accomplish few positive results if any-surely nothing in terms of building the infrastructure of a viable alternative third party.(1) They would have only one ultimate effect which would be to help “the most dangerous organization in human history” to maintain control of congress. Our convincing a few might make a small but possibly significant difference in the outcome, or so we hoped.

Most of the arguments recycled those Chomsky and I made in 2016, so I won’t repeat them here. The responses were also plenty familiar mostly reading out of an equally well worn ultra left hymnal.

But there was one which has gained a certain amount of currency in recent months. That was to accuse those rejecting their position of “vote shaming.” As one commenter put it, “vote shaming is part of the problem not part of the solution!”, forwarding the following meme which thousands have “liked” and described as “powerful” and “compelling.”

After recovering from the shock of being confronted with absurdities of this sort, It’s hard to know where to begin.

Perhaps the best rejoinder is to simply concede their main point and admit that I find this and other attempts at defending “voting their conscience” disingenuous and ridiculous. Attempting to acquaint others with simple facts and apprise them of the likely consequences of their course of action does not equate to “not caring” about them but the opposite. Attempting to limit the power of a Republican majority which is inflicting massive harm on others is not “selfishness” but exactly the opposite. Those responding to their utterances are not “silencing” them-but listening to them and paying them the respect of taking their arguments seriously-even though they hardly deserve to be.

Or to adopt their lexicon, I regard these exercises in debased logic and sophistry as indeed shameful.


So, yes, those of us attempting to warn others of the leap off the cliff their course of action represented did engage in vote shaming, if that’s what the defenders of their suicidal course of action want to call it.

It should be immediately conceded that it almost certainly had little effect on those directly engaging with us. As is always the case in these situations, our arguments were not directed at them, but at those who were not already invested either personally or professionally in the Green Party brand or other equally dysfunctional forms of ultra leftism.

Did it matter? Probably not, but it may have. As mentioned above, the 3% of Green Party vote was reduced in the final tally to 1.5%. In other words, half of those voters came to their senses.

And with that in mind, my message to vote shamers is: You did good. Keep it up. Do it again.

The one regret is that not enough of us shamed enough of them.

That goes particularly for Arizona where Green Party voters could have chosen to use their votes to defeat the Republican reducing their Senate majority to 50.

Among those recognizing this was a Green Party candidate Arizona party nominee for Senate Angela Green who withdrew from the race urging her supporters to vote for the Democratic to block another victory for the far right.

Unfortunately, it was too late. And for doing the right thing she was roundly attacked by Greens who characterized her efforts to prevent the neofascist juggernaut as “doing the WRONG thing.”

Fighting neofascism is “wrong?” Nothing could more conclusively demonstrate the Greens’ descent into rump party status.

By now they deserve all the shaming they get.

Shame vigorously, shame early and shame often.

Those deserving it won’t want to hear it-but the truth sometimes hurts and it is what needs to be told.

(1) Full disclosure: I was elected twice as a Green Party alderman in New Haven.

Update 11/9: The Arizona Senate candidate is Angela Green, not Jones, as she was identified. I regret the error. Also, at most recent count, Kyrsten Sinema, the Democratic candidate has pulled ahead by 600 votes.

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