05 November 2012

Why I Hate Election Season

It's that most corporate time of the year.
Election season. It's that most wonderful time of the (four) year(s). That time that turns friends into enemies, enemies into heroes, and every apathetic asshole you've ever met into an expert on domestic and foreign policy. Forget Christmas, Black Friday, or Hallween, there is nothing more spectacular this time of year as the well choreographed performanes we see on TV. Election season, the time of the year that Big Brother makes us cookies, freshly baked each day and topped with a sugary layer of frosting that reads, "You matter, [your name]". Ah, election season. How I adore you.

Go ahead, tell me I am wrong, but I will never stop dimissing the importance of the election and looking down at you that post insescently about presidential candidates. Fuck this shit. Here is why I hate the election.

It's that most wonderful time of the year when we decide it's ok to ignore the charade of a system that keeps us dancing like puppets to the beat of corporate drums.

To criticize the system from which our options slither out like worms baked in the power of moeny becomes taboo. To speak up against the importance we grant to a single presidential candidate who's role is more that of an image of a country than it is political, and who's decisions are simply the funneling of political shit in a direction that might be less bad than another becomes harmful. I see it go down all the time, on facebook and in real life, that the moment someone re-directs our attention to the flawed system within which we are operating, they are silenced by cries of "do you know what's at stake!" and "it's our system, for better or for worse!". The glow of TV screen during presidential debates, the lulling voices of speeches and empowering cries of crowds, the red, white, and blue so bright that it blinds - this, my friends, is what gives us this collective amnesia. Swept up by the crowd, we join the lies which we should be fighting. But, this, my friends, is not the time of the year to forget the system that keeps us chained. In fact, we should be screaming louder than ever, should be standing on the rooftops shouting to the skies. Fuck Romney, Fuck Obama, and fuck anyone that dares believe that there can be somethign good about a politician. No, I will not buy into your lies of what matters. Becouse nothing matters as much as shattering the foundations on which systematic oppression and torture is built. I will not grow silent about the prisons and lies in which we live because it's election season. I will grow louder, so hear me roar.

It's that most wonderful time of the year when we turn communities into constituencies and accept tokenizing marginalized groups so that some guy can win a popularity contest.

Four years we sit in the shadows, with "marginalized" meaning that no one cares, and suddenly they throw these words out as casually as Mardigras beads. It's like buying entire communities with fistfulls of pennies. LGBT for Obama, Latino for Obama, Women for Obama. Is it really no surprise that we don't see Pakistanis for Obama or Anti-Assimilationist Radical Queers for Obama? Because we are just targets on the path a victory, just puppets that lift liars on our shoulders. Forget the individuals we are inside, the battles we fight to survive, the differences between us that make us into rainbows. Election season means we suddenly matter, but only as faceless crowds who's votes work in unison. I am not your constituency, and I am not monochrome. There is depth to each of us and I will not let politicians forget that so that they can win Homecoming King. I will not change myself to fit your homonormative mold so that your cries of victory speak straight at me. And I will not pretend that just because some candidate has done a little good for my community, that that same candidate is not also doing so much to hurt it. I will stand my ground as an individual, as radical and (gender)queer, as an ally to my comrades who's lives are being destroyed by your candidate.

It's that most wonderful time of the year when we suddenly forget the privileges that make voting possible, and conflate them with rights, and responsibilities.

Voting is a privilege. I repeat, voting is a privilege. I will say it again, voting is a privilege, and not everyone has it. No, not everyone over the age of 18 who's a US citizen has equal access to the privilege of voting. And if you disagree, you best leave my life now. It's so easy, on college campuses, to throw out those words: "everyone should vote", "everyone should vote", "everyone should vote". But not everyone can. Those people with clipboards registering voters? They aren't everywhere. That information about where to vote? Not  always available. Transportation? Neither. Employers who give time off to vote like they're supposed to? Ha, like employers follow laws! Even if one is able to access the polls, the amount of work one must put into it is not equal. To do so easily is a privilege. The amount of time necessary to research the cause, to decide on a candidate, to know what's really going on is a lot, and requires resources that are not distributed evenly. Voting is a privilege that not everyone has. And, even if you do dare call it a right, there is no way that it is also a responsibility. You're nothing short of a scumbag if you dare say that voting is equally a responsibility for all, despite the fact that some people have to sacrifice so much more in order to vote. It's not equal. It's not fair. It's not a responsibility. And, if you take it as far as to say that someone who doesn't vote loses their right to complain and "bitch about it", like I so often hear, even though those for whom voting is most difficult have more reasons to complain about so much? Well, we should just stop talking.

It's that most wonderful time of the year when compromise is praised and to ignore significant issues is considered the ideal.

No, I will not compromise. No, I will not sacrifice. No, I will not simply overlook the issues that this election is overlooking. Oh, how often I hear it, to vote for the lesser of two evils, the candidate that's marginally better, to ignore so much for some small gain. How often people dismiss third-party votes, votes for those candidates that do not promote drones to the Middle East or abuses against protesters domestically. Now, there are valid reasons to vote for a candidate that's far from good (I did, in fact, vote Obama in this election). But that doesn't mean everyone else should - and that doesn't mean everyone else can. It makes me sick to think I voted for someone who is killing innocent people in Pakistan - but, for someone else, casting that vote could be more than just making them sick; it could be triggering; it could be impossible. There is no reason that I, or they, should compromise drone wars for abortion rights. There is no reason we should remain silent about what an awful person our current president is, and instead sidestep the issues he is sidestepping. This time of the year, we should grow louder. We should grow more vocal. And we should let our hate flood over politicians more than ever before. Instead, we grow silent. We grow positive. We shout "support". I do not support what our politicians are doing. I do not support institutionalized murder. I do not support Obama, I hate Obama and the evil he commits. And you should, too.

It's that most wonderful time of the year when everyone becomes holier-than-thou with their super special sparkly votes that nothing else matters anymore.

Elections take up so much room. Just look at my facebook feed in the last few months. It's flooded by pros and antis, with videos and infographics and debate quotes. And we praise it. We pet ourselves and our friends on the back for reblogging that thing about Mitt Romney is evil. We congratulate those over-election invested peers of our for "taking politics seriously". Even offline, I can't walk from class to class without collecting a flier on Amendment 64 and a thousand inquiries as to whether I support Obama (I'm even running out of clever responses). Elections become the foreground of our lives. And it's not that I necessarily think elections shouldn't matter, or that everyone should refrain from voting. I am not even saying we should talk less about it - in fact, we should be talking more, much more, about the faults in our system and the issues that both candidates agree on or ignore. But that's exactly it - we're not talking about that. Instead, we are talking about that one miniscule bit of our lives, and letting it overshadow everything else that we are dealing with, and that's going on every day. Hint: your vote probably doesn't matter. And, believe it or not, direct action and real lifestyle changes do matter. Projects that have been set in motion and continue existing fade away to the background in favor of promoting or insulting candidates. Personal changes seem unnecessary when you are such a fantastic politically involved voter. And this is all a load of shit. Because other things matter so much more. So shut up with your election, shut up with you voting, and shut up with your candidate. Focus on something real that you can do today to help someone's life. Focus on real issues that are hiding on the background. And clear the area so that real change can still remain on our radars, even during the time of this ultra special election.

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