occupying wall street and the failure of the ballot boxPosted: October 28, 2011
One time when I had to take my cat in for a checkup, my vet crawled out from behind her desk where she was filing stuff, slowly, as her knees were failing, and she said to me, “So, what do you think about the choice between two millionaires for president?”
And I laughed and said they both sucked.
Every time I vote in an election much bigger than school board, I have to choose between two millionaires. Two people, usually white, heterosexual men, who do not understand the first thing about my life or the lives of the overwhelming majority of the people who will be voting for them. And, let’s be real about this: these aren’t just millionaires. They’re multi-millionaires. They’re people with so much money they don’t necessarily even know how many houses they own, because this is an easy thing to lose track of.
It’s hard to feel that the ballot box is a legitimate place to raise your voice and say something more than “I like the puppet on the left” in an era when politicians’ lives are so divorced from the people they allegedly represent, and their careers are focused on catering to corporate donors who could spend my yearly budget on lunch and write it off.
This is not to say that I don’t vote. I vote every chance I get and write my reps constantly about measures designed to keep people from voting. But it is to say that with the choice between two asshole millionaires who can’t understand the lives of most Americans and whose priorities are focused elsewhere, it can’t come as a surprise that many people find it necessary to express their views in a more direct way than merely filing into the ballot box once every year or two and hoping they remembered to update their address on time.
It can’t come as a surprise when politicians have ignored the needs of their constituents, when jobs are fleeing overseas so corporate “job creators” can escape labor protections and pay lower wages while their former employees’ children go hungry, when people can’t pay their bills and can’t take their kids to the doctor, when students graduate to a world not only with no hope of paying their loans but to find their degrees qualify them to scramble for shitty part time cashier jobs, when people are being turned out of their homes by banks that can’t even prove ownership – it can’t come as a surprise that people are upset, and not contented to wait until the next election cycle to pin their hopes on the lesser evil and wait, wait, wait.
We don’t have time anymore.
I endorse voting. Vote early, vote often. Vote strategically. I’ll talk about what issues I care about when voting in various levels of elections as we get closer to that sort of thing. Vote and encourage other people to vote and push your district to support same-day registration.
But don’t stop there. Don’t pretend that voting is the only legitimate form of activism or the only way to have a voice. Voting is one tool in the box. It is one of many.