Years ago I chose my first tattoo, a classic Royal typewriter on my inner-left forearm, for a deliberate reason: No matter what, after making that sort of commitment I’d then have to pursue my lifelong dream of becoming a full-time writer. My thinking: If I settled for another career path from that day forward, I would resent myself forever; whether suffocating in a cubicle or spritzing turnips in the produce aisle, I’d glimpse my arm and feel like I surrendered my real passion.
Nearly a decade later I partially attribute my ability to pay rent as a journalist to my elaborate typewriter tat. Whether reality or suspicion, I have convinced myself that the Royal in my line of sight served its intended purpose. A friend of mine says that I motivated myself with shame. So be it. The tangible reminder was the extra push I needed; there was sacrifice involved, sure, but it was a lot less painful than tattoo removal.
With that lesson in mind, and with a predetermined Jeb versus Hillary race to the bottom looming, I came up with another inspirational ruse — this time even more ambitiously, and not only to steer my life but to hopefully activate others as well. Specifically, I’m hoping to convince a colorful cabal of cronies who are equally concerned about political chicanery to join me in pledging to permanently flee the two-party system.
The “3” on my right arm denotes a longstanding personal guideline: Unless a politician truly moves me, and takes no dough whatsoever from the likes of banks and national security leeches, I will not vote for a major party candidate. The “3” represents my choice as an American to support independent hopefuls, and it screams that I am strong enough to laugh at threats alleging leftist flight from the Democratic establishment will ensure indefinite Republican control of everything from Congress to our underwear drawers.
After looking at my “3” in the mirror every morning, I will never lazily skip another off-year election, even if it’s just to write-in “Thor” to spite an unopposed incumbent. As for inside the booth, I’d sooner voluntarily smell Donald Trump’s manure breath than I would back an elephant or donkey over a viable third wheel. This scar means I will lambaste fellow lefties for their cliche Ralph Nader jabs, and that I dare anyone to tell me to my face that a machine puppet beholden to special interests is more fit for the presidency than is any shrewd unaffiliated advocate for common people.
There have been countless efforts to lure Millennials to the polls — some with notable results. Take Diddy’s “Vote or Die” offensive; no matter how shallow or silly a statement, the slogan spurred heads into action — not because constituents were afraid for their lives, but rather because they feared being seen as hypocrites. Fashion is merely skin deep though, and the only place you’ll find “Vote or Die” gear in 2015 is the Goodwill Store.
I’m not suggesting people rep any pol or party in particular or turn their face into a punchline; but for a lot of neophyte poll-goers, tattoos are the new T-shirts, and so I believe this kind of movement is well worth exploring at the grassroots level. A “3” also has significantly low regret potential; in addition to facilitating untrammeled thought at a time when singularness is endangered, in the worst case scenario, should any young enlightened folks switch paths and become venture capitalists later in life, they can have their mark of individuality re-done as a dollar sign.
I’d be happy to yammer on about the crooked red and blue charade, and to cite encouraging poll numbers about how Americans are increasingly discovering third party salvation. I don’t need convincing stats or data, however, because I’m confident that most people already agree that status quo courses of action yield inadequate changes. As an extroverted journalist, I rap politics with everyone — taxi drivers, bartenders, conservative uncles — and they almost universally despise Republicans and Democrats. My hope is that every needle singe in solidarity with those civilian skeptics further empowers said silent majority to abandon the enduring false dichotomy.
Worse comes to worst, at least there’s proof I didn’t back the next shill for oil, war, and evil who Americans will inevitably vote into the White House in 2016.
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.