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Politics

I Don’t Blame You For Not Wanting To Vote… But You Should Vote Anyway

Let’s be perfectly honest and keep it 100: The 2016 election cycle is a shit show. It’d be a shit show if it existed in a vacuum. It’s an even bigger debacle on the heels of our nation’s first black president who ran a near flawless campaign in 2008 and made lightning strike twice in 2012. My first vote for president was the very lackluster John Kerry – who failed to beat a very vulnerable George W. Bush. If your first vote was for a candidate turned President Barack Obama, you hit the jackpot on your first pull at the machine. You probably won’t see a candidate like again in your life. What a time to be alive.

Unfortunately, the world didn’t end with the 2012 cycle. This year, we have the 2008 Democratic runner up and likely first-woman president. And back-to-back history isn’t so bad. Especially if you’re in the #ImWithHer ranks. I get the excitement behind Hillary Clinton. Really, I do. On the other side is an independent turned Democrat that people seem to like a lot on social media but not so much at the polls. Bernard “Bernie” Sanders isn’t going to sniff the Democratic nomination, but him staying in the race at least keeps Hillary talking about progressive values. And there’s value in that as we head towards the general election.

We’ve seen debates literally turn into an old school game of the dozens. Vulgarities at press conferences. Candidate references to genital sizes. Period jokes. Blatant racism. Defenses of the Ku Klux Klan on national television and violence at rallies. It’s Love and Hip Hop: Washington, DC.

The other side is so wack, however, they’re not worth dissing. And if that makes you label me a partisan, oh well. The GOP primary is must-see TV… for all the wrong reasons. We’ve seen debates literally turn into an old school game of the dozens. Vulgarities at press conferences. Candidate references to genital sizes. Period jokes. Blatant racism. Defenses of the Ku Klux Klan on national television and violence at rallies. It’s Love and Hip Hop: Washington, DC.

Looking at our national landscape, I don’t—and won’t—blame anybody who decides to take their vote and go home. Or, stay home come the first Tuesday in November. I fight the urge to do the same every day something ridiculous shows up in the news cycle. And something ridiculous shows up in the news cycle every day. But here’s a major key: They don’t want you to vote. They want you to stay home.

So while I don’t blame you for wanting to sit out this election, you should vote anyway.

If you listen to The Ballot or the Bullet from Malcolm X [1], it feels like it was written yesterday, minus the references to the Dixiecrats and wars of the time period. On the power of the black vote, Malcolm said:

The political philosophy of black nationalism means that the black man should control the politics and the politicians in his own community; no more. The black man in the black community has to be re-educated into the science of politics so he will know what politics is supposed to bring him in return.

Don’t be throwing out any ballots. A ballot is like a bullet. You don’t throw your ballots until you see a target, and if that target is not within your reach, keep your ballot in your pocket.

After reading that last sentence, you might be tempted to ask, “If the presidential election is a shit show with lackluster candidates, shouldn’t I keep my ballot in my pocket?”

The short answer: No.

But here’s a major key: They don’t want you to vote. They want you to stay home. So while I don’t blame you for wanting to sit out this election, you should vote anyway.

If you’re looking at the presidential election as the gauge for whether or not to lick shots all over the polling booth, you’re aiming at the wrong target. If you’re a “Hill Raiser” or #FeelTheBern, fantastic. If you’re all in for a third party or want to write in Deez Nuts [2], you should. But if you don’t want to vote for president and are tempted to stay home, there is one eternal truth. A truth that was around before Donald Trump wanted to “make America great again,” and will last long after the likely Republican Party implosion of 2016.

All. Politics. Is. Local.

Don’t believe me? Let’s take a quick look at some results from Super Tuesday part three.

In Illinois, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez got trounced by Democratic challenger Kim Foxx [3]. Alvarez presided, or rather, did not preside, over a timely prosecution of the killer cop who gunned down Laquan McDonald in October 2014. Had the video not surfaced, it’s likely Alvarez would’ve sailed to a third term. The community got active and organized over the McDonald shooting, forcing high profile resignations within the Chicago Police Department and talks for some degree of police reform. Activists also kept citizens engaged and focused on ousting Alvarez in the primary. Of the 449,777 people who voted in the Democratic presidential primary, 449,731 of those also voted in the primary for state’s attorney [4].

When we vote, we win.

Lightning struck twice. Tim McGinty, the Ohio prosecutor that neglected to prosecute the cop who mercilessly gunned down 12-year-old Tamir Rice within seconds of encountering the boy? He’s out of a job too. 190,374 people cast ballots in that presidential primary, More than 149,000 voted in the prosecutor’s race [5].

When we vote, we win.

When we talk about justice for Tamir or justice for Laquan, this is a snapshot of what that looks like. It’s a people power that says, these young boys shouldn’t have been killed in the first place, but when crimes happen, we trust you to do right by us and take these officers to trial. And if you won’t take it to trial, we’ll find somebody who will.

When we talk about justice for Tamir or justice for Laquan, this is a snapshot of what that looks like. It’s a people power that says, these young boys shouldn’t have been killed in the first place, but when crimes happen, we trust you to do right by us and take these officers to trial. And if you won’t take it to trial, we’ll find somebody who will.

It’s still bigger than hip hop, protesting and hashtags. All over the country, local legislatures, school boards and city councils—the bodies that directly affect our quality of life—have been allowed to ransack our communities, decimate our public schools and not be held accountable to the people. They were all elected by the voters, and to an extent, by those who didn’t vote. As Alvarez and McGinty discovered, they can also be sent to the unemployment lines. A few thousand votes can swing lots of local races. It can put a different member in Congress, a school board member who cares about children over profit, and council members for the people by the people.

I don’t blame you for not wanting to vote in an election headlined by juvenile antics with uninspiring candidates. But as Illinois and Ohio showed us, you should vote anyway.


[1] The Ballot or the Bullet
[2] Meet Presidential Hopeful ‘Deez Nuts’
[3] Anita Alvarez concedes bid for third term in Chicago
[4] Tweet by @JoyAnnReid
[5] Tweet by @JoyAnnReid

By AJ Springer

AJ Springer is a writer, communications pro, nerd and nomad. Stomping competition is his hobby and job. You can find him on the Internets discussing current events, combat sports, pop culture and the finer points of pro wrestling. When not doing that, he can be found searching for a new home for his written words.