Really, when was the American republic egalitarian? Perhaps between the adoption of the Constitution till Andrew Jackson?
Maybe I dismiss my own cynicism, but I feel pretty strongly that all governments are oligarchies. I'm not sure if I'm comfortable with that, or how comfortable I am with that (I'm trying to work my way into an income level where I'll have access to oligarchs). It was that way in the Roman republic, worse under Empire, it was that way in the Christian nations of the dark age, it was that way under the renaissance and through the enlightenment. Periods of egalitarian government, it seems to me, are the exception in history, not the rule.
Is it perhaps worse now than at any point in my adult life? Perhaps it is. For the sake of argument, let's assume it is.
Opting out of the system by not voting, whatever your intent, will be heard by the oligarchs that you don't care enough to register an opinion on the way things are. To quote Sir Thomas Moore, "You may take my silence as implicit agreement" (during his heresy hearings, when he refused to recognize the King as the head of the Church of England - he was later beheaded...)
THIS election, you have to refute the last 8 years.
You have to refute the war in Iraq
You have to refute torture
You have to refute the idiocy of the status quo in energy policy
You have to refute the non-action on climate change (whether man causes it or not, it's happening)
You have to refute the power-grab by the Executive branch
Letting McCain and the neocons think that you don't care about the above is the worst possible message you can send.
I don't care if you vote for Ron Paul or Obama.
I'm personally going to vote for Obama, even though Ron Paul is practically the living embodiment of my political philosophy. Why would I NOT vote for the man who best represents my political views?
First, Ron Paul can't win. Our two-party system weakens our democracy by invalidating radically different styles in politics. That's no one's fault but the dumb mass in the middle, which doesn't want to think through issues (and, in my world, wouldn't be allowed to VOTE!
FUCKERS!). I mean, have you seen the hotties in the new Legally Blonde reality show? That's important stuff.
So since Paul can't win, in my view, my (MY!) vote for him can only go to elect the person I DON'T want to win, John McCain (nothing against McCain too specifically, but this election is about invalidating my support for the last 8 years, and the neocon movement).
The second reason Ron Paul can't win is because Libertarianism (and my own philosophy of Federalism) suffers from a delusion about the compatibility of human nature and personal responsibility in large societies: People refuse to be responsible for their own bad choices.
If there's a fatal flaw in human nature, it is that a great (and I assert, the vast) majority of human beings unrealistically blame outside factors for their own lack of prosperity. The larger and more complex the society, the more scapegoats are available.
It's the illegal immigrants
It's the oligarchs
It's the corporations
It's the Illuminati
It's the developers
It's the East-Coasters
It's the Texans
In any place where I've personally seen Libertarianism work, it's been a relatively small, homogenous society that tends to be simple economically. I certainly know of no examples where the society isn't very homogenous in terms of its culture and values. (Examples I've seen: Norway, NorCal, West Germany)
So my voting tends to focus not on trying to elect people who reflect my ideology, but on trying to take advantage of the political currents of the time, and picking out a message that I agree with or issues that I want to see supported.
My cynicism is most notable when it comes to my learned belief that the American democracy wishes for more and more nanny-state caregiving. I can't override that trend, but I can try to channel it to the best possible (available) focuses.
I will vote for Obama for a lot of reasons having to do with his character, which I don't think I'll go in to here. But mostly I will be voting for Obama because I believe he will:
1) Draw down forces in Iraq to under 30,000 in his first term
2) End torture
3) Roll back the Executive branch power grab that's occurred in the last 8 years
4) Make progress dealing with energy policy/climate change
5) Appoint judges to the courts who will protect individual liberty/choice
I couldn't POSSIBLY be more wrong than i was in the last two presidential elections, right?