If you knew that a business was corrupt or discriminatory, and if you are a person and not, say, a bigot,
then you would boycott that business, right?
This is something that we have been taught is a civic duty in the face of an evil institution: When taxes were levied on British tea during the late 1700s, colonists sought resistance through boycott (which lead to the Boston Tea Party, a flash mob of product destruction). When we found out that Chik-Fil-A was donating to family-first (i.e., anti-gay marriage) organizations, we saw a huge demand from gay rights advocates to stop buying what they’re selling.
Assuming for a moment that your vote has real weight, how does one support a candidate that runs against the foundational ideas of humanity?
How can I vote for Obama when he sends drone strikes to Pakistan that kill innocent people—that kill anyone, for that matter? How can I vote for Elizabeth Warren when she stands against trans rights? And those are the candidates who I’m “supposed” to vote for, being the “liberal” co-ed on a northeast campus that I am. And there are only two choices, a red pill/blue pill dichotomy, as Democrats and Republicans are able to organize huge financial operations. Third parties are essentially barred from participating because we exist in a culture where we believe that money or votes to third parties are wasted at best and loony at worst.
We are indoctrinated to believe that our votes matter, that they are our voices.
But while all votes are equal, some votes are more equal than others, as where you call home can have an effect on how powerful your vote is. You might have heard from some of the students in town, about their preference to stay registered in their home state for the presidential election rather than changing to a Massachusetts voter registration. Many of them are opting to vote where their vote “matters.” States like New Hampshire or Iowa, which you’ll recognize as the “battleground” states, “have low voter-to-elector ratios,” so everyone’s vote actually counts a whole lot more. That’s why those states get so much love from national candidates.
So where is the deal breaker for you?
At which point do you put down the ballot with your chicken cutlet and say, “I refuse to participate in a system that is so royally fucked up?”
We’re taught that voting is the paramount expression of our citizenship, but the voting system in the U.S. is broken. It just doesn’t work. And I don’t like it when things don’t work.
I’m registered to vote in Massachusetts, and I’m going to vote—for medical marijuana, for death with dignity. I’m going to vote for things that will go into effect. I don’t want to vote for people anymore, for corporatized political parties, for drone strikes. I can’t put my name on that and sleep at night. I can’t vote while others are disenfranchised.
And it feels strange because it goes against everything that I have ever been taught. But I just can’t do it anymore.