Voting: The Sleeping Pill of Politics
I hope the 2018 midterms will not rock people to sleep, I hope people are not going to settle on newfound representation in Congress and the house. I hope this will stir the pot to get people more engaged and willing to throw away our old faulty modes of thinking more than ever before.
In 2016 our current standing president lost to 3 million votes, tonight the senate had 10 million and counting more popular votes for democrats who ended up losing 3 seats and no congressional power.
We saw first hand in real time faulty voting machines, delayed opening times, 1–4 hour long lines, not enough ballots for even voters who wanted to do early voting, insufficient resources for disabled voters and voters who had tight schedules needing to return back to work, tow companies towing people’s cars away when they decided to “#StayInLine” to wait to cast a ballot, Native American citizens denied voting because their homes were not considered residential addresses, citizens thrown into jail or given heavy fines for voting without knowledge they were not legally allowed to, and gerrymandered purging of millions, not thousands, of votes and attempted registered voters across the country in inner cities. A man who oversaw the own state election he was allowed to run office for was able to sabotage his win in Plain. Sight.
The Board of Elections in Mississippi allowed a man wearing a confederate flag t shirt with a noose drawn in the middle of the shirt run election booths throughout the entire day. Open kkk members and white supremacist affiliates were re-elected into congress while their supporters stood outside polling areas intimidating voters or lying to voters waiting on line that they could leave and vote at other poll sites. Many of us have grandparents who were alive when literacy tests were handed out to black voters in Louisiana and many others states to prevent them from voting.
But this is not going to be another rant to falsely claim that all of these instances that happened across the country today is a reason to hold this form of civic engagement to high esteem and importance. I for one do not see today’s long lines as a sign of hope for change in Democracy, but rather as a warning sign.
Every election season for as young as my 22 years can remember I have seen people sloganize and monetarily gain from the topic of “voting”. Using diluted mainstream activism rhetoric by those who will probably vote against the well being of their audiences, as previous presidential election polls have proved. With paid sponsorships for voting advocacy plastered on a urban outfitters stylized T-shirt “voting is easier than marching”. We can no longer speak of the civil rights movement and national protests and marches as if they are historical events of the past. It is almost insanity to both isolate ourselves from political strife of the past as if we have moved on and improved from it, but also use tokenized black activism as revisionist support for state loyalty. Not only is it disrespectful to use brutalized black and brown bodies as shallow reminders of the monopolized violence the state readily has over us, but it does nothing but reinforce the idea that black liberation (which is only explicitly successful when it is an opposer not supporter of state power and social norms) is only a mere accessory that can be packaged and sold like property, devoid of any substantial labeled cause and effects.
In this election it cost donors for political engagement nearly $5.01 billion dollars for campaigning and ad runs for both the GOP amd DNC. Now more than ever in our political history it cost candidates more sums of money to afford to campaign in long term elections such as gubernatorial and national races, thus slimming the chances of people without billion dollar company funds, super PACS, and special interests groups backed by the richest top percent to keeping getting re-elected. Of course it’s stating the obvious that many politicians naturally have the reputation of serving the “elites” of our country, but do people substantially understand the weight of such economic monopolies on civic engagement? Not only are we seeking that politicians who are seemingly bounded by campaign funds to serve common folk’s best interest, but there is additional little to no representation of common folk and our voices within office, regardless of the face attached to the suit.
Bipartisanship was immediately advocated for after the minority leader of the speaker of the house won re-election yet again this year, strangely during a night of nation-wide voter suppression, resulted gerrymandering, race baiting, and fear monger if of an entertained last minute headline news story of a carvan of immigrants “invading” U.S. borders in weeks to come. There were plenty of topics for her to immediately address for her party’s success in taking over the House. Why speak of bipartisanship, yet again since the loss of the presidential election to GOP?
A hyperfocus on moderate politics, civility “across the aisle”, and open dialogue has shifted focus from the overall premise of an ineffective ply ran government that has been in a virtual gridlock. If the DMC has cared deeply about winning not only the House, but their past promise to win back the Senate too, would they have strategized better to advocate for the voters they wish to come support them and their interests, rather than consistently give free press to the growing Nazi supporters and anti-climate change revision conservative mid westerner? Would the DMC had given more focus to voter suppression that explicitly hurts the demographic of voters they consistently expect to show up for them, as they similarly expected during the presidential election? This brings many people to question whether the DMC truly cares if it wins or losses elections; as long as their donors are paid based on the constituents that support them after they step down from office. They are paid regardless if they win or lose, but also need the public vote to be “balanced” and “close enough” to also make sure donors are paid.
New York made several proposals for a civil engagement commission to be made, have allocated funds for starter campaign runs for candidates who do not have ties to these larger sources of donors, but does this truly solve the conflict of interest for financial gain? What happens to these smaller ran candidates that need to be re-elected? That do not have the resources of $5.01 billion combined?
While this bipartisanship speech is taking place, as previously stated, a Secretary of State who oversaw the election for the same ballot ticket he was running for (and obviously winning in) also had a fellow party member across the country who won his state election for an assembly seat. The only problem? He was the owner of a brothel bunny ranch and passed away over 3 weeks ago, and the GOP for Nevada state will now get to appoint a Republican to take his place.
If you have not figured out by now that we don’t live in a Democracy, or a sound one at least, you are simply apathetic to the material reality around you, or need to make an immediate decision on what role will you take as history pans out.
Just this past month a campaign ad surfaced of older boomer generation boomers reciting a plainly on the nose reverse psychology scripted video of why they will represent more of the polls without a damn given compared to younger and more deeply affected voters. With so much focus on just the act of showing up to the polls, stop entertaining the arguments of people not voting. Although the US has significant low voter turn out compared to other countries, millennials have consistently showed up in record numbers since 2008, black people (women) have consistently showed up in strong unison voting blocks for decades. We cannot keep ignorantly asking for more voters to show up when the mass amounts of voters that do show up are not even taken care of. We cannot shame and incite fear mongering against those who are barred from voting in the first place. When will we start to realize not only is our voting power a fabrication to be loyal to state power, but that our fear of said state power changing against our perceived protection we hope to obtain from is ultimately what leads us to continue this cycle of picking lesser of two evils. We choose to hand out promo codes for people waiting in long lines to get a single slice of pizza or get $10 off a ride to the polls, we choose celebrity endorsements for shallow encouragements to “vote” without real material guidance of who what and where. Nevermind that many voters are ill equipped and show up to polls having difficulty comprehending the ballot measures and amendment proposals that are purposefully worded to confused voters….we make all of these temporary choices out of fear, out of wanting temporary relief without real material gain. Because when these people finish waiting in line for hours, when you drop them off back home and they have to go bed tonight wondering how they will eat or get a ride to work tomorrow morning with no one there asking for their vote anymore, our problems are not solved. What are we expecting when we vote party leaders into office and do we enforce these standards? We cannot lose focus of the significant policy gains we want for ourselves, while trying to proves to both others around us and ourselves that we need to comply with the policy changes and small reforms handed to us by two parties that are essentially the same in class interest, foreign policy, and military interest.
“We cannot keep ignorantly asking for more voters to show up when the mass amounts of voters that do show up are not even taken care of”
Not only do we need to address voter suppression, but we need to address how the elected officials we now know we only *partially* have a say in putting into office behave in our best interests, when we pay them to do so. If we can’t authentically and 100% use our apparent voting “power”, why do we continue to have blind faith and party loyalty to those placed into positions of power? That is not just an issue for trump supporters and self-sabotaging republican voters. That is engrained in American social acceptability as appraisal.
Voting is not the end, and I need people to understand that. I’m the only person in my family openly disengaged by the act of voting, but I was also the only person in my family who knew who was running for midterms today and what the ballot measures were for my state. That is a problem, because we need to get rid of the idea that putting blind party trust to appointed leaders will fix systemic issues when these leaders are ultimately always opposing our best interests.
Mobilizing comes from the ground up, but I have consistently seen people confuse this as meaning the issues we face come from the ground up. We cannot continue these incessant games of blaming immigrants, poor people, the incarcerated, and the mentally ill on issues that they did not ever create, but yet are the most willing out of all of us to fix. That is a conversation long dead and should no longer be entertained. We have seen proof right before our eyes that those in power get to choose what voices are heard and amplified, who gets to live above the law and who gets punished by the laws they write into power. Enough.
There is no moral high ground for Americans to take. We have now seen right in our faces the poor example of a Democracy we live in, and these politicians, especially democrats, are going to closely observe us in the coming weeks waiting to see what our reaction will be. If we continue being apathetic and disappear after Election Highs, both republicans and democrats will push the bar even lower with what they can get away with doing and what they can get by being passive and compliant on within capitalist state interest.
We also need to get rid of the idea that. we all operate on the same morality, and need to quickly realize that not everyone has the same ultimate interests and goals as us, and waiting for others to have a “open dialogue” and bringing fact check infographs in response to generations of *premeditated* state violence against marginalized groups will lead to a swifter and easier demise rather than a delayed one. When do we stop foolishly trying to voice ourselves to people dedicated to not listening to us? A different route needs to be taken. It would be naive to extend a high brow belief that this premeditated and intentional behavior that is backed by a culturally violent political structure is somehow simply a slip in character or plain ignorance.
And the route that we do take needs to not be a reactionary bandaid to stall on the impending rise of fascism. American’s social activism cannot begin and end with our generations of characterized Bushs and Trumps. Our activism cannot end at our borders and airports, because we have now seen what damage and the cost of millions of lives this line of thinking causes to innocent families escaping political strife in countries that U.S. military has the largest occupational and “economic cut” of within Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia. Trump is not an outlier, and white supremacy is not a US problem, but a global problem. Ask Brazil. White supremacy is not a personality trait and a curious difference of opinion, regardless of how much paid publishers and media outlets have wasted their time convincing everyone the past 2 years. It is a real material threat of violent structural power that pours into both our foreign policy and our backyards.
We cannot vote and then be rocked to sleep. No matter how many Black Latinx Asian , lgbtq+, Muslim, disabled people we choose to represent us, the work of reformation cannot be done in an already rotting foundation. What we saw today in the midterm elections is an example of how our government practice is working as helplessly and in effectively as it was intended to do so at it’s conception.
This election had a silver lining that even though institutional barriers and the additional stricter voting laws that were added since the 2016 election were used, people were still able to mobilize in mass numbers, and exhibited some of the most closely-ran elections we have seen in our lifetimes. It’s clear that the majority of people have at least imagined a more progressive political structure. Results can truly manifest when the effort to organize is made, after all the most significant voting rights successes happened tonight when ex-convicts were able to gain their right to vote back, marking the largest milestone since the Civil Rights Act. 35% of black males make up this newly eligible demographic . So what else do we want to see both in our immediate futures and future generations actually change? What is it that we want to vote for, rather than choose from? Many activists with different methodological interests have their own special roles they took on to be able to answer this at many different angles; many use voting as one tactic to open the gate for opportunities of organizing to happen. They not only need our help more than ever, but we have not even realized we need to save us as a collective more than ever. It would not be a disservice to them to abstain from voting, but a disservice to be rocked to sleep and continue on a path of enabled destruction.