I’m going to dub this a little conversation (not yet trademarked, but just you wait.)
What I’m writing is the product of months, if not years, of thinking, listening and arguing.
For those of you who are reading this, there is a great chance that you know of my disdain for the United States’ current electoral system. I have been an outspoken critic of not only the system but the people within the system as well. I have so many times argued my right to NOT vote and to NOT participate , but here I am telling you that my mind has changed.
In the past six months I have done a lot of things. I have moved approximately five times (nationally and internationally), I have graduated college, begun my ‘adult’ life and given myself a much-needed break from the constant churn of producing content.
I have also given greater attention to the actions of the federal government. I watched with increasing shock as President Trump pulled out of the Paris climate agreement, as he put into office morally questionable and sometimes completely unqualified individuals. I felt true anger; unbridled and raving anger, towards the administration when it was revealed in May that hundreds of families had been separated and flung hundreds of miles apart. I nearly cried watching Brett Kavanaugh, President trump’s second nominee for the Supreme Court, be nominated, questioned for allegations of sexual assault and be confirmed to the highest standard of law in the United States.
Mind you this is not a comprehensive list of what I’m angry about.
As these things escalated, I had a harder and harder time swallowing this puddle of feelings. I could find fear, frustration, disgust, anger and sadness all swirled together and let me tell you, those aren’t easy to choke down everyday. But you probably know this feeling too.
I used to be able to find shock in the mix too. It was a tart syrup, sticky, but easily washed off. I used to sip it down obediently until one day I asked myself, “Are you really that shocked? Look at voter turnout, look at public interest, look at the system that has enabled this beast to grow to such epic proportions.”
And after thinking and discussing and thinking some more, I decided that I was part of the problem. And I’m going to emphasize, not in a way that hurls accusations or coats my self-image with shame. I have had a lot of people throw spiteful wishes my way. I have had people try to guilt me and try to demonize me for the actions of our administration and I’m going to tell you that doesn’t work. You cannot bury someone under the weight of absurdity and atrocity and expect them to change their minds.
I chose not to vote in the 2016 presidential election and I still think that my choice to not vote was the best choice for me at the time. I was well-informed on the candidates, but I was bitter, and petulant. To a degree I still believe that despite what feels like a complete razing of my personal values and morals by the administration, that the system needed to burned to ash before anything healthy could grow again.
But, there is a system in place, and it’s not an ideal system by any means. It reminds me of some poor creature stumbling along on two and a half legs, desperately trying to get from point A to point B without tipping over. However, until we have created and instituted a viable solution, the only way to create change is to participate within the parameters of the current system. This may seem like a ‘no shit dumb ass’ sort of thought, but it’s taken me a bit to get to this point so give me some slack
And if you’ve made it this far I’m going to give you a little insight into “a little conversation.” This summer I spent six weeks living with my eldest brother, Jonathan and his partner Leah. I often spent evenings and late nights talking with them and one of the most frequent topics of conversation was voting. We discussed my choice to not vote, my disillusionment and wariness of the system. We probed deeper and looked at what the effects of informed voting could do, the philosophy of democracy and we pushed at each other, questioning the validity of what the other was saying. It was a conversation of logic, values and morals.
None of these conversations were heated or angry. They were truly an exchange of opinions and ideas based on a mutual respect that my brother and I have for one another. While this method is not always possible, it worked for me and I want to take the chance to share my experience. This decision has been an exercise in reflection, and it has not been easy. I was willing to tie myself to this pyre and set it ablaze myself, that is how adamantly I refused my participation in a system I saw as irreparably broken. And don’t get me wrong I still see the system as broken, but there are ways for me to begin to help fix it. They’re not the most efficient or thought through, but it’s what we have to work with and I for one am going to try and help.
There’s still time to go out and add your voice to the fray and I’m going to urge you to. If you’re on the fence and not fully convinced or you haven’t registered to vote and now it’s too late, then all I ask is that you think about this. Your voice does matter and so does your vote.