Look, It’s Unpleasant But Simple

I’ve been seeing a few posts/memes saying “Is there anyone who doesn’t know who they are voting for?” The implication being that the die hard people will vote for their candidate, and all the people who were previously undecided and sat out last time have joined in and will vote. Democracy crisis solved.

It’s a comforting thought, even if those people don’t all vote for my candidate. Why? Because voting is the one of the main pillars of a functional democracy. If people are participating (and please dear god, I hope the ones who agree with me participate more) then we still have a chance to continue our democracy.

But, I fear that may be magical thinking. Based on 2 whole encounters, with white women I may add, I’m afraid there is still a — I guess I’ll call them “disgusted contingent” — who dislike both candidates and are planning not to vote. I think it’s like mice. If I see 2 members of the disgusted contingent, there’s bound to be hundreds or thousands more living under the floorboards and in the walls.

And I get that, I really do. I just sent my dad — a hardcore Bernie fan — a bumper sticker that says:

And for him it is, but even he is sucking it up and voting. And he has absolutely no use for the Democratic party in its current state. But he understands how democracy works.

Many people think voting doesn’t matter, but it does. Hell, I live in Massachusetts, so I know how our snowflake lefty votes are going to fall, with or without me. But there is a power in telling a politician in office, “I voted for you, and here’s what I think you should do.” When a lot of us say it, it starts to matter. Change is possible. Less compelling is, “I didn’t vote because it doesn’t matter, but now I’m really pissed about this issue.”

OK, so maybe you don’t give a crap about that. It’s not untrue that a lot of politics is bullshit. But here’s the unpleasant thing. If you don’t vote, especially during this time when a certain incumbent has shown very little leadership and has caused more harm than good, you are still affecting the outcome. Said incumbent’s supporters are intensely devoted to him no matter what and they will vote for him. Not voting does not absolve you of the responsibility when all this goes even more south than it already has. You perhaps hold even more responsibility because you had an opportunity to participate and you consciously chose not to.

I’m not sure why I need to say it, but I guess I do. There is a lot at stake here. There are lot of things going wrong and our fellow Americans are getting hurt and dying, and maybe none of this has affected you. Yet. Congratulations. But don’t fool yourself that you are playing Switzerland and staying neutral. You’re not. If you are white and not voting because you dislike both candidates, and you are currently unaffected by COVID, or job loss, or raging wildfires, and you can still pay rent or your mortgage, you are using your white privilege. Period. Just be aware that statistically speaking, 4 more years of this will eventually trickle down to you.

And also understand treating these as 2 equally disgusting choices is how a child would see it. Children do not understand nuance. You’re an adult who should be able to understand this: one choice has demonstrated he is not interested in working within the laws of our constitution, and the other choice has demonstrated he will. You remember that little piece of paper right? If you are able to disregard all the things the incumbent has done or not done, then at least understand he is not interested in preserving our democracy. And guess what? Democracy is not some permanent state that is impervious to attacks by craven power hungry people.

Democracy only exists because people believe in it. Trump does not believe in it. Not voting means you’re OK with that. It’s that simple.

So, yes. Fine. Biden. And yes this is bullshit. But with Biden, you will be able to tell him it’s bullshit and how he can do better by us. That’s how this is supposed to work.

So hold your nose and vote as if your life depends on it, because it kinda does.


  1. Waiter: “Today, we just have 2 items on the menu.”
    Me: “Really?”
    Waiter: “The first is boiled tofu.”
    Me: “No thanks.”
    Waiter: “The second is dogsh-t.”
    Me: “I’ll take the tofu.”

    VOTE, VOTE, VOTE! (I already did.)

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