I voted today.
You should too.
You should vote because democracies live or die by the participatory actions or inactions of the citizens that live in those societies. While it is true that inaction is a fundamental right in democracies, it is an ill-advised course. Consequences rain down from the sky, and it is not a matter of doing or not doing; consequences will always show up.
I’m reminded of a student in one of my classes who once said that Jesse Jackson was “basic.” It was such an appalling thing to say because, as a Black American male youth, Jesse Jackson took a lot of physical and psychological abuse just for that Black American male youth to be able to sit in that college classroom or even walk across that college campus.
We need to understand that what we have today, especially as Black Americans, did not come without great sacrifice. Even before Black Americans were able to get a drink of water at a public fountain, someone had to get beaten and arrested for the privilege.
In order to maintain the progress we have made, we need to vote. Voting in America is a constitutional right, but that does not mean it is a given. It can be taken away, especially if we don’t use it and especially when we are not looking. Purging people from voter registration is just one way to go about it.
I’ve heard some say that the two-party system is one-and-the-same, that neoliberalism has corrupted the very foundation of democracy. To those people, I would say, “Yes, but one reason that neoliberalism has gained such a foothold is that people don’t vote; they don’t participate in their own experience.”
Some people would say that gerrymandering and voter suppression keeps people from voting. To those people, I would say, “Yes, but one of the reasons politicians have been able to create these circumstances is because people decided not to vote.”
During the last midterm election, we had the worst voter turnout in 70 years. If you are angry with how things are today, think back to your voter participation in 2014. Actions or inactions always have consequences.
During the recent presidential election, 46% of the eligible voting public did not vote. Actions or inactions always have consequences.
Democracies are synonymous with life. Say that you dream of being a doctor. You can dream of living the life of a doctor all day long, but if you are dreaming from your couch, that dream will never manifest. You actually have to get up and put in the work. In the glorious words of Outkast, “get up, get out, and get something.”
We cannot hashtag our way to equity, equality, freedom, and liberty. We cannot boycott our way to safe schools, churches, and synagogues. We cannot protest our way to coverage of pre-existing conditions. We actually have to exercise the mightiest power that any citizen of a democracy has; the power of the vote.
Inaction is what the status quo needs to remain in place. Further, and this is so important, so read this carefully, if you don’t like the shape of your experience in this country, then vote out the people who have created and maintained that shape.
If you do not participate in your own experience then you are directly contributing to your own degradation, ya’ll, go vote.
Participating is always a consequential action.