Friday, March 4, 2016

Dear #AnkhNigga (& Others): The Case for Voting

Dear Non-Conformist, Anti-Everything Activist, and #AnkhNigga,

I know, I know. I should not use such an offensive term as “#AnkhNigga” to describe you, but the point is to BE offensive, so that you’ll stop your stupid ankhin’ ways. Drop the misogyny and homophobia and I’ll drop the term…but for now, since I have a lot to say to a lot of people, and typing the word makes even me cringe, I’ll just call you the more mild term for your BS persona: Hotep.
2016 is going to be a rollercoaster of an election year, and it is going to end in an explosion in November.  I would hope that “explosion” is a figurative term for the joy some will feel, but I know that on the other side, it will be a figurative term for angrections™, and a literal term for people who WILL actually blow things up. Both are inevitable, but on which side of the blast is up to you, and you can control that by doing something very easy:
“But the system is broken and corrupt! What’s the point?”
Show me a system of government developed by humans, and I will show you a system that has corruption. Not voting perpetuates the corruption by allowing the people in office to take whatever measures they can to KEEP the system corrupt. The US was born in hypocrisy. The Founding Fathers who preached about the inherent personal liberty of everyone, all while they owned people and would not let women have any personal liberty. It is a lot more difficult to change a regime from the outside than from within. That is why China built a giant wall…and their dynasty was still overturned, by way of their own citizens. Hitler worked INSIDE the government to create his personal hellscape, not remotely from Austria. We invaded Afghanistan and Iraq to “change the regime”, and look at how that turned out. France didn’t force us to ratify the 13th, 14th, and 19th Amendments. We voted in legislators who drafted and passed them…Mississippi was a little late. We have eons of work to do still.
Do you know what else is corrupt? Our Judicial system. Back in Post-Civil War, Jim Crow South, black men and women would be arrested, and sometimes within minutes, they would be convicted of a crime by an all-white jury, whether there was a crime or not. We are promised a jury of our peers. Do you know how most court districts choose their jury duty rosters? They use voter registration! Do you think it was a mistake that no black jurors were around, that black votes were suppressed so much? Dear Hotep, have livid about a black person is convicted by an all-white jury based on shaky evidence? Have you been angry about a person who harmed or killed a black person who was exonerated by an all-white jury? Then you should understand how important it is to vote. An all-white jury acquitted Emmett Till’s murderers in an hour. The police in the Rodney King trial were exonerated by an all-white jury. Jordan Davis’s murderer’s first trial, a hung jury, was mostly white. Just in February 2016, Donald Williams, Jr had to watch his attackers not be convicted of hate crimes by a jury of all white people. Donald Williams, Jr was attacked by three white students who latched a bike lock around his neck and tried to lock him in a closet, all while taunting him by calling him 3/5 of a person. I highly doubt that a more diverse jury pool would have the same result. In other aspects of life, diversity sews accord and understanding. Why not in the courtroom? So it is great that you protest outside the courthouse when that unsavory verdict comes out. It is a travesty of true justice. All the work you did to organize is not for naught, But you could have done something more, though. Put down that ankh for a minute, Hotep. Pick up a pen, and fill out that registration form.
“But none of the candidates are really speaking on the issue(s) about which I care!”
Here are two questions: Have you ASKED that candidate about the issue, or at least researched to see their stance? Are you really that myopic? The candidates running for office are doing it (theoretically) in service to everyone, not to only you. No one knew any candidates’ stances on the #BlackLivesMatter movement until someone confronted them. The way they responded to the confrontations speaks volumes about their commitment to the citizens and residents they might serve. There will never be a candidate who ticks every check box you want. The only potential candidate who can do that is you, so if you are not running for office, then you cannot fault another person for not having every quality you want. Perfect matches only exist in discount pulp novels and romantic comedies starring Ryan Gosling. This is the US government. There is nothing Ryan Goslingy about it.
“But I’m just one vote. It won’t even count!”
Take 20 people who feel that way, put them in one room, and have them say that simultaneously. It literally speaks volumes! Every vote counts. Just because whichever person for which you voted did not win does not mean it didn’t “count”. The outcome data showing what percentage voted for whom belies your claim, so save that sentence for someone who cares.
“If _______ doesn’t win the primary, then I’m not voting again/voting for the polar opposite.”
Be sure to abstain from voting, after I pick you up from pre-school. This train of thought is as inane and immature as the, “my vote won’t count”, diatribe. Abstinence from voting means you have no reason to complain about any policy that is made, any measure that is taken, and any action that is taken by our government, because you did not do your base duty. If I don’t say what I want for dinner when someone asks me, and then dinner is liverwurst, then I can’t really complain, because I had the option to choose something different, and I did not take it. I’m a little bit confused about someone who would vote for the polar opposite of whatever their first choice is, but at least you voted. However, again, you cannot complain when that person who is the antithesis of who you want as a candidate does things of which you are completely aberrant, because YOU VOTED FOR THEM.
Look, I know that the candidate that you like looks good on paper, but trust, they are going to be different in office. In the case of the President, the only people who think that they have the ability to run an entire country are INCREDIBLY arrogant, for better or worse. When your candidate wins, you WILL be disappointed. They WILL break a promise or two. They WILL drop the ball on something that you hold important. That is still not an excuse to abstain from voting. That is a reason to keep your voice heard and to vote them out if they mess up royally.
“But it’s an off-year! Nothing important is on the ballot!” [For anyone who reads this on a non-leap-year]
Tell that to the residents of Houston, who had a ballot measure that would have block discrimination against trans people in public places, but it was voted down because PEOPLE WHO WERE FOR IT DID NOT VOTE. This is a PRIME example of how people should not complain when they get liverwurst for dinner after they didn’t speak up, except this affects people’s lives and safety! A lack of vote is a vote for the other side.
If you claim to be an activist beyond just the armchair variety, then get your ass out of the chair, and go vote. Get the forms, ID, horcrux, or whatever you need in your state to register, and do it. And VOTE. It may be difficult to do in some regions, but it is still the simplest form of activism that you can do, but it is so important. People created “poll taxes” in order to black people from voting. They would rough them up and sit in the ballot booth to force them to vote a certain way. They would give them a grammar test in Chinese to discourage them from voting. They would KILL people. Women were ostracized, slut-shamed, slandered, and beaten when they fought for the vote. Why do you think certain legislators keep re-drawing districts and making it even more difficult for certain people to register to vote? How many times has anyone in the US blocked people from doing something inconsequential? Has anyone been put through a gauntlet of impossible tests, tortured, hanged, shot, stabbed, burned alive, or fire bombed because they wanted to take up crotchet? Because at least half of some of my ancestors (and I wager some of yours) have. They fought tooth and nail to gain the right to vote. By you saying you will not, you not only throw away the easiest way to be active, you spit on all of the freedom fighters’ graves who you claim that you exalt. Don’t vote: don’t talk to me.

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