I’m sad to say that I see almost no way to write my annual “get out the vote” column without crashing upon cliche after cliche. There are the stats which show what kind of candidates we could have if a few more of you knuckleheads took the couple of minutes it takes to participate in elections. And of course there are the trite comparisons to American Idol turnouts, plus the noise of holier-than-thou laments about democracy and how a lot of people died for universal suffrage—all of which is understandable; still, I believe a new approach is needed. Here is my proposal:
WE NEED TO SHAME THE SPIT OUT OF THESE ASSHOLES WHO REFUSE TO VOTE. They poison our Facebook and Twitter feeds, struggling to channel their emotions and be heard. But while they’re willing to piss into the bottomless rhetorical ocean that is social media, they’re not willing to pull the singular lever that has measurable impact. Imagine the nerve.
I’m not just talking about those who aren’t registered. I obviously hope to reach a few of them as well, though it will have to be for action at a later date, as they are not allowed to vote in Boston’s primary on Tuesday, Sept 26, since, for a number of undemocratic and sickening reasons, we don’t have same-day registration in the Commonwealth.
But here’s the good news for all those who are registered but who may not have realized that elections are happening in Boston and other cities and towns around here—drawing from my observations, I believe the underlying reason we must mock nonvoters openly is that there are a lot of decent people with progressive views who think they are above the polls, or that elections truly do not matter. Such positions are indefensible, as anyone who’s ever met a local town or state official, or who has gone to war with a municipality over a mundane matter has learned: There are a lot of average Joes and Marys out there who won office by a minor margin and went on to do notable damage.
Bottom line: I’m sure there are a number of abstainers who have barbaric views and who we should be happy stay at home on Election Day. Forget about them. It’s time to reach out to our friends who aren’t exercising their right but are better than the drones who have historically come out for small elections—the old-school centrist dolts who pray to party and provincialism before country and neighbor. The sort of people with such little self-respect that they actually vote for several generations of pols from the same wired pedigrees. These super voters don’t give half a tug that politicians bank on contributions from the companies that crush and even kill communities, but you do. You—those who cringe and withdraw at the mere mention of politics, as well as those who are irrationally certain that all polls are rigged, and all you lazy assholes out there who spend more time making up excuses for your apathy than I have ever spent going to vote—you are who we need to turn around the Titanic.
As you can plainly see, it’s even easier to be a righteous dick when you’re doing your civic duty.
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.