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.

Okay, so, you won’t buy a chicken sandwich because the company who is selling them doesn’t believe in human rights—okay. So how does one justify voting?

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.




    Interesting read. I also hate feeling like my politics or all of politics is just a compromise, but I think that’s the upturn to that idea.

    It might be impossible to find a candidate that supports 100% of the things that you support, but at least we are able to partake in a process (however screwed it is) that allows us to give voice to those that are more like the people we want to see in office. And when they make bad calls, there is the right to free speech, to file complaints or fund/support other candidates that might act in a better (whatever that means to you) way.

    I’m not saying the process should make us feel like we’re constantly fighting, (that actually makes me very sick too to think about) but at least while there’s still an ability in this country to fight for some things, to seize that. Accepting the broken system as a reality and not a current event that could or might needed to be changed based on your views just discredits your views as worthy enough to be acted upon…and they are.

  2. Colin Colin says:

    Emily, honestly, you need to develop a sense of realism. I appreciate your candor but you’ve spouted the same tired argument Libertarians do and just about anyone else who cries over the problem rather than promote solutions. You take your ball and go home instead of propose better ideas that are within realistic scopes. Idealism is cute when done right, but in the context of what needs to be done and in your heart of hearts you’re the reason voter apathy is a problem. You want your cake and want to eat it too. It doesn’t work like that. It doesn’t work in the naively idealistic fashion that Tea Partiers and Occupy Wall Street wants it. I’m registered Independent and will likely vote Democrat because in the grand scheme of things, I’d rather be the guy who voted for the less painful option than no option at all and possibly contribute to the worse result.

    You also present an incredibly naive view of AFPAK affairs. I know you’d like to think all killing is wrong. I think we all would. However, this is geopolitics, and quite frankly if a Predator helps to take out the same people who help advocate shooting a 14-year-old girl in the face simply because she’s been advocating for female education, I’ve lost my ability to care about the idealism behind your statement. We have people out there that want to kill us, so adopting a Ron Paul notion of “if we leave them alone they’ll leave us alone” is a true testament to naivete. No foreign policy is perfect, but your thought process of live and let live simply doesn’t work. It hasn’t worked for millennia and it won’t work now.

    In short, you’ll eventually have to learn to get real. I was once like you as a young twentysomething. Then I had to learn to take responsibility, get a job, and maintain a standard of living. I realized things take time and slow progression wins the race, not immediate change.