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Algerian demonstrators protest the 2019 presidential election with banners in French that read “Reject the elections” Algerian demonstrators protest the 2019 presidential election with banners in French that read “reject the election” and “the street will not be quiet,” in Algiers, Dec. 12, 2019 (AP photo by Toufik Doudou).

The Tempting Fallacy of Election Boycotts

Monday, June 21, 2021

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As “weapons of the weak” go, boycotts hold a special pedigree. Gandhi used them in India’s struggle for independence to leverage overwhelming popular will against the British colonizers’ military superiority. The Montgomery bus boycott, organized by Martin Luther King Jr. from 1955 to 1956, showed white supremacists in Alabama and across the U.S. that Black Americans could and would yield their economic power in pursuit of their civil rights. Like a general strike, a boycott can transform diffuse popular sentiment into a targeted beam powerful enough to force political change. ...

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