The concept that voting changes anything gets it completely backward. What happens is, the masses move and threaten the system’s profitability, and the ruling class calculatedly grants concessions.
No candidate will risk upsetting their super-rich backers by granting concessions if the masses have not made it clear that inaction will be more costly than granting them.
If we want both concessions and revolution, we can build a party, a people’s headquarters, that can unite and coordinate all the various liberation struggles so they can overlap and empower each other, growing bigger, more disruptive, more coordinated, and more rebellious over time.
If we want nothing, we can waste our energy getting out the vote and trying to convince people that voting is what changes things, instead of mass action.
These two conceptions of how politics work are mutually exclusive—winning someone to “voting changes things” is precisely to win them away from understanding the genuinely empowering truth: the people, and the people alone, are the motive force in the making of world history.
We need more Fergusons, Baltimores, and Standing Rocks. And even more than that, we need a party—we need a people’s headquarters to help people struggling everywhere link their struggles up and support each other as strategically as possible.
And we need a people’s army, to keep the pigs out of our shit as we build and grow a new world where the authorities are just people themselves, chosen by the community and wholly accountable to them.
Edit to elaborate, September 23, 2016:
Q: Shouldn’t revolutionaries advocate voting for someone who can create a more viable situation in which to make revolution?
A: Two-part answer:
First, at the higher levels, the will of the politician never gets any meaningful “life of its own.” They never cause meaningful change in themselves, they aren’t a motive force–the election results are only ever one filter through which the capitalist class tries to read the will of one subsection of the masses. It is the capitalist class that determines government policy, not the whim of whichever politician got elected, and what the capitalists end up doing is determined by the state of class struggle at any given time, not the voting turnout. Thus, voting at this level literally cannot “create” these situations–only the masses in uprising can do that.
In short, it is an illusion that the vote has power. If a vote passes a piece of legislature that hurts the capitalist class and the people are not then prepared to cause unprofitable disruption if the spirit of the new law is not enacted, the capitalist class will enshrine the law but gut it of its substance using bureaucratic measures. If no law is on the ballot regarding a specific policy but there is a viable threat of unprofitable disruption if the policy that is actually being enacted doesn’t change, the policy that is being enacted will change with or without a vote, with or without a change in law. The constant is that, so long as the capitalist class still desires to maintain the illusion of democracy, what the people demand through threat to continuously disrupt profit is what they get–including nothing.
Second, at the lower levels, the politician has some room to maneuver and make their own decisions, but still only within the confines of what is acceptable to the capitalist class, who have a thousand ways to ensure the politician doesn’t leave those bounds. It must be understood that politicians at this level are even more vulnerable to the capitalist class as a whole, because their supporter base, media access, and budget are tiny in comparison to what can be brought in from the outside and mustered against them. Faced with such obstacles, there is nothing such a politician could accomplish that would be so helpful to the communist movement that it could pay for the “cost” of having alleged revolutionaries encouraging people to vote. That’s the key factor that this question refuses to consider: advocating a vote is not a “cost-free” act for the revolutionary movement.
What makes revolution is when the broad masses themselves become revolutionary. An irreplaceable part of the process of the masses becoming revolutionary is the correct leadership of communists. This involves those communists orienting around the most class-conscious sections of the proletariat and helping them bring the rest of the proletariat forward. The fact is, the most class-conscious sections of the proletariat are already those with the lowest voting turnout and most cynical attitude toward the entire process. They are the front-most “train car,” which must be linked to the communist movement to bring the entire consciousness of the proletariat forward, because only through the mass support and assistance of the advanced masses can the even broader masses of the less class-conscious middle sections be reached and communicated with and won to revolution. Meanwhile, if you try to link up the communist movement directly to the middle sections, who are kind of cynical but kind of think we might get some progress out of the electoral system, you abandon the advanced sections, and the middle sections aren’t able to lead anyone toward revolution–only back into the electoral system. Meanwhile, the advanced section would then (rightly) think the “communist” movement is full of shit and would go on to formulate its own theories about how to make revolution, which would invariably be lacking in the historical lessons the communist movement could have offered, and would resort to individual acts of violence and riots, neither of which can overthrow capitalism.