Voting and Privilege

26 10 2010

Voting is largely inaccessible. Trans women and men, people with disabilities, people of colour, people living in poverty and people living in rural areas often are unable to vote because of the myriad barriers blocking access. This is a reason why there is so often low turnout among these groups (among other factors). This post, however, is not directed at people who are blocked from voting.

This post is for everyone who can vote.

If you have the privilege of access to voting, it is absolutely imperative that you vote consciously next Tuesday. It is important to research the positions that your candidates hold. Study voting records, speeches, debates, endorsements, whatever you can get your hands on and educate yourself before voting. It’s also necessary to recognise what great privilege you have with your access to voting. This is something that cannot be taken lightly and must be carefully thought about before exercising.

And what do you need to do after you’ve recognised your privilege of voting access? You can either use your privilege to uplift the people you oppress or you can ignore it and continue to harm (directly or indirectly) the most vulnerable people in our country. You can choose to vote for the candidates that are endorsed by marginalized people, candidates that truly seek to uplift oppressed people and make this country a better place for all of us. Or, you can choose to vote in your best interests. For tax cuts that will harm the poorest in our nation, hateful candidates who seek to exterminate trans women and men, candidates who are pro-corporations, candidates that, if elected, will “send a message to the Obama administration,” candidates who want to continue to harm the most vulnarable.

Or you can choose to sit at home on election day, throw your privilege around in the faces of those of us who don’t have voting access and tell us that voting doesn’t matter anyway, man.

I’m going to vote consciously next Tuesday. Will you?

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4 responses

26 10 2010
Ben

You say this as if there will always be a candidate voters will feel comfortable supporting. Nothing mandates that there will be a candidate that fights oppression, and even if they do, half the time people claiming to fight oppression have oppressive, hypocritical views (assuming they’re not just lying).

There are also groups for which there are just never candidates willing to fight. Why should I be forced to vote for pro-circ, pro-religion candidates (most, if not all of them) just because they pretend to care about other issues?

To be fair, I can’t vote in this country. But I don’t feel that I’d be entirely comfortable doing so if I could. Being forced to accept one candidate as a package instead of having any real sense of democracy is a problem, and sometimes it’s too great a risk to take.

27 10 2010
Matzpen

The hundreds, if not thousands, of hours a year activists spend organizing protests, rallies, speak outs, fundraisers, meetings, speeches and the like are the most crucial political acts a person can undertake, NOT mere Voting
http://sherrytalksback.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/caught-in-the-election-crossfire/

27 10 2010
Leah

And I thought I was naive.

Of course organising and changing public opinion through activism matters. But to say that rallies and protests are somehow more important than supporting candidates who seek to bring change is laughable.

I’m not suggesting anyone should vote for a candidate they don’t think will do something positive. But not voting, especially in primaries where candidates are selected and truly progressive candidates run helps nobody. Maybe federal elections are less important, but local elections are incredibly important and actually affect peoples lives. But hey, keep throwing your privilege around, it’s totes cool.

9 11 2010
Roy

While not in the US, I’m sure the post would be just as forcefully applied to me where I live, but nevertheless, I decline. I refuse to register to vote because I refuse to give a vote of confidence to any of the politicians who stand. None represent the working class or oppressed, and none take a principled class line against capitalism and against the capitalist parties. In the US, where there is NO workers party, this doesn’t need the slightest proof, both the parties are avowedly capitalist.

To vote for any of them is a vote of confidence, saying that I believe that party, or that candidate, will conduct themselves in any way that approximates my interest, and as such would be a betrayal of my class interest as a worker. The ONLY force which can deal with the myriad forms of oppression faced by every section of the population is the working class.

When I was ‘able’ I refused to vote in federal, state, and local elections because to do so is to vote for continued oppression. I took advantage of my ‘able’ privilege to hang out and do random shit with friends. Now that I’m not ‘able’, I cannot take advantage of that privilege, but my interests are still the same: NO vote to the Democrats, or the Greens, or Independent candidates in the US, NO vote to the ALP, Greens, Democrats, Sex Party, or Independents in Australia. All I can do is ask my friends to not vote, to not betray their class, and to not vote for continuing oppression by voting for any of them.

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