* I wrote this last year for Virginia’s off-cycle elections, but it’s even truer today. We are not actually that divided as a nation, but politicians distract us by using “wedge” issues (like the caravan) to literally drive wedges between us. Regardless of whether you agree with me or if you are in the minority (because I AM in the majority, statistically), you should use your right to vote, as there are people all over the world who wish they had the luxury. And people died to get that right for you. *
I resent that I am forced to vote along party lines. The vast majority of Republican candidates, especially Virginia Republican candidates, are fundamentally opposed to my core values. Put shortly, they are anti-reasonable gun restriction, anti-abortion, anti-gay and trans rights, pro-Christian, anti-all other religions, climate change deniers. So I don’t even get to think about nuanced issues, or their qualifications, or even consider whether I actually like most of the Democratic candidate’s positions. Because our current political system is more based around out-voting one another’s fundamental beliefs than anything about the government itself.
When I received my absentee ballot for Clarke County, the place I still vote because I will be moving back permanently in the near future, I knew that Northam is a former war doctor who believes in the importance of empathy, and that Gillespie is a jerk, but was uninformed about nearly all of the other candidates. And it was infuriating to just go down and tic boxes for the Democratic nominees mindlessly like the Republicans I shit on for toe-ing the party line. It was infuriating to know that, as mad as this makes me, I can’t consider voting another way.
I will not be someone who votes for Nader or writes in a candidate or dead gorilla (RIP). I’m a realist who can do math, which means recognizing that I need to vote for one of the major parties, and for a candidate actually on the ballot, for my vote to be relevant. People have their reasons for protest voting, but I don’t do it. This essay isn’t so much a call to change our two party system or limit the amount of power the DNC and RNC hold or consider campaign finance and lobbying reform, although those are issues to be addressed. It’s more of a call to reason. When the majority of the country believes in/wants certain things, and passes laws and hands down Supreme Court decisions about said things, how can they repeatedly show up as political issues? Why are we still dealing with pushback against abortion rights, health care reform, and gay marriage? We’ve already done this. We’ve made the decisions. You lost; now fuck off. No wonder the Republicans are so pro-Confederacy right now; they are all about the losing team coming back again and again to stop the winners from making progress. Your whole party’s vision for America is “fuck the Democrats and undo everything they’ve done.”
The majority of Americans believe gay marriage should be legal (65%). The majority of Americans believe in abortion rights (59% - 69%), and the vast majority should be outraged by our rising maternal death rate due largely to insidious restrictions aimed at limiting abortion (0% admit to wanting more women to die). The majority of Americans want the government to provide healthcare that doesn’t cost them an arm and a leg (60%). The majority of Americans believe in global warming or climate change, and the percentage was higher until these terms began to be used politically, a tool to pit us against one another, painting accepters of the science as liars out to steal your jobs, cars, and coal (71% down to 57%, but the number is climbing again). The majority of Americans (64%, including 51% of Republicans) even believe in marijuana legalization. The majority of Americans think we need to address the gun issue by introducing restrictions (60%). I know this post shows that I think I’m in the right here and that may annoy you, but it’s not just me, it’s the majority, inluding many Republicans and Independents. It’s the winning side. The 2016 election did nothing but strengthen this belief, because Trump’s bigotry and anti-progressivism (regressivism?) lost the popular vote (by 2.9 million votes, 48.2% to 46.1%).
So, to any of you who don’t want to vote [tomorrow] because you’re discouraged and think that politics sucks, yeah it does. It sucks so much ass. Our system is so, so, so broken. But we aren’t alone in this; if I learned one thing traveling it’s that most people feel that their political system is failing them. And I still don’t have an answer to the question repeatedly asked of me in Cuba: What does your generation’s revolution look like? But I know it doesn’t start with all of us not voting, because then we will forever be forced to live under “leaders” (leaders seems like a real stretch here) who won’t let us marry who we want or smoke weed or get an abortion if we are raped or, honestly, even bring our attacker to justice if we are. Because it’s not just Democrats who want these things, but right now we are so divided by party that we can’t discuss these issues and find common ground. You’re with us or you’re with them.
Now go forth and vote, and challenge anyone who refuses because he can’t bring himself to choose between a giant douche and a turd sandwich. Because, despite their potentially valid reasons, we’re gonna have to deal with one of them, so let's just get this over with and we can start making progress towards a world with fewer doucheturds.