Tomorrow is Election Day and it doesn’t seem like it could come fast enough. This is the sentiment that everyone is feeling, Left, Right, Center, and all the statements of it being the most bat-shit-insane election cycle does not need to be reiterated. I actually follow politics and enjoy staying abreast of what is happening. I regularly read the news, listen to it and download podcasts specifically focused on it. I am not a wonk but I think it is important to understand it because it is important to understand. This interest has been cranked up to an almost debilitating degree due to this election but nonetheless the stakes are high and people shouldn’t just check out or say fuck it and most importantly to sit it out and not vote.
I have had a few conversations with my oh-so-‘liberal’ friends and many say flatly that they are not going to vote because 1) in NY it doesn’t matter (it is a blue state) 2) that the system sucks so what’s the point and 3) that they would rather see the system self implode then to keep the status quo. I get it. I agree with much of it. But come on people! Trump is running to be the next President of the United State of America! (Gahhh) The Supreme Court is in the balance. These things are bigger then your ideological super-egos and they matter to people beyond just your accelerationist – Žižek zeal.
Things are fucked. Things do need to change. Things should get better, faster, sooner but this only changes with persistence, contribution and action. Bernie Sanders has been a part of the government structure fighting his fight for decades. His effectiveness and legitimacy comes from his life’s work, which includes being a part of the system that he is trying to change. Do you want a revolution? If that happens you know who suffers first and the most? The poor. People of color. Children.
Clinton is flawed but there is no way I’m not voting for her. She is a part of the system; this is both good and bad. People seem to not grasp the concept that America is massive, diverse, and complex as hell. She is a wonk; she has been in this for a very long time and in roles that were only permissible for women at those times. If she were a man everything would be different. The level of overt sexism and misogyny directed at her from nearly everyone is disgusting. I know why many of my own family members disparage her because I know these people. They are of a certain generation/time where women just are not and will never be seen as equals. It’s like a conceptual brick wall that they just keep bashing their head into.
Being a women running for President is also extremely important in another way and that is: we live in a time of symbols. The message of the symbol has an impact in ways that are immeasurable, multi-generational, psychically realigning. There is no metric to the cultural shift that would occur if we elect a female president.
In a similar vain I could just slap those that say things like Barak Obama hasn’t done anything for African Americans. They say how he hasn’t done enough for Black Lives Matter, hasn’t changed things fast enough or has been vocal enough. Really? Really? This mostly comes from the same ‘liberal’ white people that I am surrounded by via the art world and it is just astonishing how obtuse that way of thinking is. Barak Obama was the first African American President and his legacy is to make sure that he isn’t the last. All the madness of cops and gun violence towards the African American community is in fact a result of his Presidency. Not as a cause but as a wake up and revelation of what has been happening for years, decades, generations. His calls for gun control have been ceaselessly blocked in Congress. He has been a good President in the face of an intractable House and Senate and I will literally cry when he leaves office.
Also the fact that someone like Trump and his vile rhetoric has gotten to the place it is, and he is the actual nominee for President, is also a direct result of the Obama legacy. All the racism that is still infecting the country is seething for recompense and in a death throws trying to counter the new realities of who is American and what it will look like in race, gender and religion in the coming years.
My British friend asked about the concept of what ‘Being American’ even meant. They didn’t understand how that could be a descriptive qualifier. I said that this made sense to me. This idea of ‘Being an American’ is a self-identifying concept for many in the US and for me personally. I was born in another country but grew up, was raised and have been given freedoms, opportunities, advantages, privileges, and access to a life that has been productive, good, and secure. I am Asian, a women, an anti-capitalist, feminist, and get sickened by neo-liberal stratagems but even with that I do feel and am proud to be an American. When the National Anthem is sung at sporting events I sometimes get chills. When I think about the diversity in this huge country and the basic qualities of the people who live here, regardless of their party line, I see them as good, kind and caring. I have family and some friends who think very differently then me and although those differences feel insurmountable at times I still love them and they love me in return.
This election is about being an American. It is about wanting to see change and making a difference. Voting is essential to this. The idea of voting as being a farce and useless in some ways does have valid argument but it is also a symbol. It is a psychology. It is not just about one vote - your vote. But it is about the collective participation of this civic right and duty. If we all sit out and think it doesn’t matter then that is infectious.
How do women get more rights? How do students get better a education? How do the elderly keep Medicaid? How do workers get better pay and better jobs? How do Latinos not get deported? How do African American communities grow? How does LGBTQ rights get constitutionalized? How do corporations get stopped from monopolizing our water, food and homes? BY VOTING!
For those that still refuse. Fine. It’s your prerogative. But seriously, don’t, just don’t complain and act the martyr if this turns out poorly.