You Just Gotta Vote

It’s really as simple as this: the only question is whether you’ll vote.

I mean, yeah. It’s pretty clear that lines are drawn right now. It’s unlikely that too many folks are going to change their minds—some, sure, but not many. So that means this November is merely about numbers: who votes and who doesn’t. It’s as simple as that. There’s no real reason to get nasty. It’s all about the numbers.

Which is why this tweet from Chuck Wendig struck a chord today.

Lisa and I have had several conversations about how much any single vote matters—me often taking the argumentative position that (not counting my 6-5 stunning victory to take the presidency of my high school German Club) there’s pretty much never been a single vote that won an election. This is, of course, false. And regardless of my intellectual argument here, I should note that I’ve always come down to the point that—while your vote itself may rarely swing anything directly—the act of voting does actually matter because it reminds people who make and enforce the laws of our land that you actually have the right to do it. It says you’re watching, and that it matters to you what the country is doing. It says you care. It says that you know your government is supposed to work for you. It says you can look at a public servant and say “you’re fired.”

So, if you don’t like the raw grossness of what Donald Trump is doing, if for you his Trumpness is not a feature but a bug: by all means resist. Protest. Write articles. Make jokes. Be vocal. I’m with you. But you need to go out and vote.

If you want to get back onto a path to fix things that are actually wrong in the country, then raise your voice. Call your congress folks. Sign petitions. Do it all. But come November you’d better go do it at the voting machine too.

If you don’t want companies to decide what health care you get, take to the streets about it. Write letters. Share examples of how our system is idiotic. But you gotta vote.

If your stomach turns every time someone says immigration is the country’s most important problem (and proves it by being willing to use state power to rip kids from their parents), then … yeah … argue vehemently. But go to the place where your voice matters the most and vote.

If you’re worried people of all ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, religions, or any other categories won’t have safe places to merely exist, then go and get aggressive in pointing out places where they aren’t safe now. Shine light on discrimination. Be vocal. But still you gotta go vote.

If you think education as a public institution is important, and the environment is worth maintaining—that working with human beings from different cultures is the most important step forward for both ourselves and them—then yell and scream.

But you’d better vote.

If you decide to go to the mat to fight the clear and obvious hard-core fascism at the heart of Trump’s platform, then, yes, I’m for you. March. Be pushy. Make your views known. If you want to stand up and say “this is not who we are!” I agree. I’m on your side.

But you need to go to the voting booth in November.

Because if you don’t do that, nothing else matters. None of it—including whether I agree with you or not.

We’re all in this together. Which means we’ve both gotta go vote.

Just to be “open,” let me be clear here, too—for the short term, I’m probably good no matter what. As a white guy with a semi-stable financial platform, barring horrific things that are probably unlikely, but not really that hard to imagine anymore, there’s not a lot for me to worry about regarding my day-to-day life right this minute. The most likely worst case for me is that I’ll have to stop being a writer and go back to selling my soul to a corporation so I can be ensured of some kind of health care. Not the end of the world.

My discomfort is more because I view myself as a Terran before I’m a US citizen, and a US citizen before I’m an Arizonan, and on down the line. I mean, I’ve lived in four states. Why would I care about people in “my state” more than I would the rest of the country? For me personally, the stakes are not yet that big, but I know that for others the situation is a little different.

If you’re like me, though, this means it’s super-easy to just retreat. Let others do the protesting and resisting. Let others be outwardly brave.

This is a matter of privilege, of course. Being an activist takes a lot of energy, and expending that energy never really does anything to change my daily reality. This is actually a problem. I totally get it. Yes, it’s a great problem to have, and yes very few folks are going to give you much sympathy—nor, really, should they—but it’s still a problem. Privilege makes your brain do loopty-loops sometimes. That’s okay. You’ve got to deal with it, but that’s okay.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about these things a lot recently. If you’re like me here’s something I’d like you to think about right now: when you go to the polling place in November you get the same voice that everyone gets.

So if you’re not comfortable with calling congress folk or going to the streets or whatever, you can still do your part. When you go to the polling place you get to be just as brave as everyone else.

We’re the home of the brave, after all. Or at least that’s the logo.

So, yeah. Resist. Or don’t. Whatever. Just do your best. That’s all someone can ask, really.

Except, of course, you gotta go vote.

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