I speak to the dismayed, because I have been dismayed.
Four years ago when I was 17 and the Obama administration took the White House, I cheered my heart out as an admirer from afar. Four years later, as I skip past another article about the Democratic and Republican camps preparing for some other ephemeral debate over which I expect absolutely none of Occupy Wall Street’s demands to be discussed, I am not merely disenchanted, but I am exhausted, disheartened and almost at a point of apathy for what I’ve now long recognized as a system of white Anglo-Saxon heterosexual male Protestant domination maintaining the status quo through yet another sham of an election brought to us by media corporations so profoundly subjugated in this age of the Patriot Act that I’d really rather just change the channel to watch Walter White make meth and stick it to everybody on “Breaking Bad.”
I have watched with disgust as pepper spray and batons have repeatedly been deployed against activists both on the streets and college campuses of California and the country at large, and I have frustratingly kept up with the acquittals of these cases, the negative precedents set by them, the continuing threat to an affordable education in the refusal to appropriately acknowledge their implications and the myriad of other similar and seemingly infinite injustices in this intertwined assortment of institutions and bodies making up the mad society we’re a part of.
And I could go on; I’m sure we all could. We could spend our whole lives condemning these things and some of us will, but despite that, I’m going to vote anyway, and I urge my fellow cynics to do so as well.
Why, and what for, considering all the evidence that when I get up the next day virtually nothing will have changed?
Why, and what for, considering that the system is still going to rail against me no matter what I check off on some ballot?
The reason is not that serious. It’s not something profound. It’s not even political and in fact it might be just a little absurd.
Every day, at every moment, including this one that I share with you right now, people everywhere are dying. People everywhere are suffering. They are being raped and beaten and abused and thrown away, and if they’re not doing away with each other, they’re doing away with themselves, somehow, if they’re not being destroyed by disease or tragic bad luck.
And it’s not just that the world can be the most horrible place. Every day, at every moment for someone out there, it is.
And we all know this — it’s just that most of the time, we choose to ignore it. What we don’t know is that we won’t be one of the sufferers of these great tragedies. What we do is hope otherwise, and of course, we go to school to get good jobs and hopefully buy some nice homes with big sturdy walls and formidable security systems to ward off nuclear war the day someone finally decides to push the button.
Or at least, that’s what I do. I don’t know what’s ahead, but I hope, and give it a shot that way. The same will be true with my vote.
After what feels like a lifetime of disenfranchisement in experiencing racism, in suffering a rather embarrassing list of personal trials with the state, and in witnessing countless other injustices both up close and from afar, I’m still going to participate in the process because I still don’t know for sure, without an ounce of doubt, that it absolutely won’t do anything.
After all, every morning I don’t know how the day is going to go but I still choose to live it.
That’s a vote.
And when I applied to go to school at UC Davis, I didn’t know that I’d get in, but I did.
That was a vote too.
Considering this, we vote every day, and when Election Day comes and that ballot is in front of me with some nonsense about changing this or that because the time has come, well, I don’t know that my choice will do any of it — in fact, I could go on, we all could — but fuck it I’m going to vote anyway because I can, and I urge all those like me out there who can to do the same.
JIMMY RECINOS knows you have an opinion too. He’d like to hear it at firstname.lastname@example.org.