Can local elections be useful to revolutionaries?

Dear MIM,

Granted that voting for imperialist Tweedledum or Tweedledee (to paraphrase Helen Keller) is a sucker's bet that only lends legitimacy to the bourgeois illusion of democracy, would it not be correct, under certain circumstances, to encourage people to vote in referenda? I'm thinking of KKKalifornia-style propositions that take certain issues to the people in a restricted way. It seems that these could potentially be worth the trouble, provided that they didn't distract attention and energy too much from the principal issue or lead towards a reformist trap.

MIM responds:

We agree with this reader that there are some smaller scale elections where it might be possible to win useful reforms. And in these cases voting is not a waste of time. And we share his/her concern that these campaigns not lead towards a reformist trap. An example MIM has given in the past of potentially winnable small-scale electoral battles is the city hall elections. It is possible that in elections to city hall, some small battles can be won locally that won't mislead people into believing that electoralism works within the non-democracy of Amerika. For instance, if there were several candidates running for city hall who supported putting up public bulletin boards all over town and making public space available for revolutionaries to hold educational events, it might be worth supporting them. But we should never confuse these potentially winnable battles with support for candidates who operate at the state or continental level and who support imperialism both in words and in practice.