It Is Not Our Job To Compromise

Ijeoma Oluo
Mar 11, 2016 · 3 min read

This election.

This fucking election.

We aren’t even out of the primaries and already I feel like my soul has been violently yanked out of my body, stomped on with dirty boots, and then shoved — wrinkled, wet and covered in worms — back into my body.

It’s not the candidates — and yes, the candidates are horrible.

It’s not the pundits — and yes, the pundits are horrible.

It’s the “reasonable” people on the internet. Really they are the ones making this election season absolutely unbearable.

If you are a person who believes in finding a “middle ground” and “compromise at all costs” and “picking the lesser of two evils” — it would be best if you keep away from me during this election.

Because what is the “middle ground” between saying that you’ll stop Muslims from entering the country and voting for the Iraq war that led to the deaths of countless Muslims? What’s the lesser of two evils between a candidate who wants to take away a woman’s right to choose and a candidate who signed a crime bill that led to the incarceration of 1 in 3 black men in America, or steadfastly fought gun restrictions that could have prevented mass shootings?

Does this mean that I think that we should just not choose or not vote? Honestly, it’s not the point I’m making and honestly — I don’t really know.

But I do know this: It’s not our job to compromise.

It is our job to stand up for our ideals 100% of the time. It is our job to always demand more. It is our job to always critique, to always stand out, to always call to account.

There is no scale that absolves any person of atrocities that they sign their name to, and we shouldn’t offer it.

There are things I love about our outgoing president Obama. I love his message of hope, I love his work on healthcare, I love his push for gun control.

But will any of these things excuse the fact that he’s deported more people than any other president in our history? Fuck no.

Will any of these things excuse the fact that his drones are still killing innocent people? Never.

And if you can look at this and say, “well, it’s better than the other guys” chances are your mother wasn’t deported, or your child wasn’t killed by a drone strike.

And I can applaud the positive things if I choose to — but if I think that I have a choice over whether or not to be mad about the millions of destroyed families and hundreds of thousands of innocent lives lost — then what do we even have to strive for as a country?

We elect our officials because we have a representative democracy. Then we demand they represent us. If we don’t hold them accountable for every decision they make we are not keeping up our part of the deal. We don’t make the compromises, they do. Politicians will always take the path of least resistance, and we should not grease the wheels for them. Every choice that can harm the lives of people should be a hard choice. Every choice that results in harm to people should be a choice you are held accountable for.

That’s their job. It sucks, and I wouldn’t want it — but I’m not running.

All that we have is our vote and our voice. That is all. Two simple weapons. Don’t take one away from others because it makes things harder for your favorite candidate. It is supposed to be hard. It’s supposed to be hard every damn day.

Ijeoma Oluo

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