There is an election next week. If you find yourself voting that day, then good for you. You made a choice. If not, then good for you too, you also made a choice.
I don’t have a problem with voting. I really really don’t. I will vote on Election Day – I’ve already picked my candidates for every race and my votes on the ballot questions. So you know, I don’t hate on voting.
But I do have a problem with how much our society fetishizes voting. Every four years, there are all these national ad campaigns with big celebrities telling me I’m a fool if I don’t vote. What, I’m supposed to listen to goddamn Jessica Alba? Seriously? What does she know about anything that has to do with real life?
What these commercials ignore is that elections don’t just happen every four years. There are city or state or national elections in every intervening year, so why are we ignoring those?
And larger than that, we need to use our critical lens to make choices every single day, not just in voting booths. Say for example, if you’ve made a choice to use your workday to make money for the government or multinational corporations. Are you doing the most that you could do with every day? No I’m sure not, but then again, that’s fine, do you. I don’t judge, because every person has various factors affecting the way they make decisions. Doing what you do may be the right thing for you at the time you do it.
Or if you continue to drive yourself to work, even though you know there are alternatives that would use less gas. Or you patronize businesses that exploit immigrant labor. Or you consume mainstream media, all of which is right of center. Or you continue to watch pro sports, even though you know they are exploitative. Or you whatever. I do it all too. Again, not for me to judge, and I mean that sincerely.
But don’t tell me that because you vote every four years, you’re doing your part. Don’t fool yourself. There’s so much more we could all be doing that we’re not doing. Showing up on Election Day doesn’t mean we get a pass for another four years of middling political involvement.
Those powerful folks want you to think that voting represents the utmost in political participation. Ad campaigns come around because we’re supposed to believe that voting is the maximum level of participation for any of us, when the truth is: it’s much closer to the minimum.
The point is: we need to do a lot of work out here. Getting to a voting booth next week definitely means something, but just isn’t as impressive as the people in power want us to believe it is. It’s basically one step above putting a bumper sticker on your car.
Vote: it’s the least you can do.
No literally. It’s the LEAST you can do.