LANDINGIN: Voting is only 1 way to exercise civic duties
Opinions Column: A Sophisticated Tho(ugh)t
My political views started taking shape when I first voted in the 2012 presidential election. When I told my parents that I voted for President Barack Obama, my mother thought that she failed in instilling her Christian values, and my dad — who voted for then-Republican nominee Mitt Romney — was impressed by how I exercised my political right and freedom, despite my mother’s opposition.
Obama’s progressive appeal, inspiring rhetoric and use of social media marked the millennial call to action. At this time, this was a demographic slowly replacing the baby-boomers — a generation mostly known to have the tendency toward holding on to homophobic, racist and sexist attitudes.
The millennials have become an influential force in shifting the direction of the United States as a result of being left to pay off the liabilities created by the boomers. As many would say, millennials are largely responsible for pushing Obama to endorse marriage equality. It is a generation that participated in getting a biracial president in the White House.
In the 2012 election, Obama won with a majority 332 to 206 in electoral votes and 65,446,032 to 60,589,084 in popular votes.
I was part of the popular vote who believed in Obama’s slogan to keep pushing the country “forward.” In addition to governing with the citizens’ best interest, he brings with him the promises that convinced people to vote for him. I felt the weight of my vote.
In hindsight, I was young and ill-informed about the polarity and corruption in American politics and government that prevented progressive change. I was naive to believe that a biracial president marks racial progress. As a result, it’s not a surprise that there are a number of young progressives, such as me, who don’t believe in the idea that voting a woman into the White House is radically progressive.
In this year’s election, many of us are left disappointed in our presidential options, while Republican nominee Donald Trump’s rise to legitimate candidacy still left many dumbfounded and confused.
Why are we surprised, when reality television continues to sell and many of us are mindlessly taking in junk, known as the Kardashian effect, which is when someone reaches fame with a lack of skill, talent or ability. It is infamy characterized with the use of viral content, such as sex tapes and social media.
As Obama clarified, “(Trump) didn’t come out of nowhere”.
I tried to distance myself from suffering anymore from this election’s predictability and bigotry. But like a monster that crawls out of the screen into your reality, hate walks and is chalked all over campus.
With the failure of American politics, many demand honesty, but a kind of honesty that validates the lies and stereotypes believed as truths. Trump unveils the illusion of progress by showing that racism, sexism and anything that oppresses marginalized folks did not subside, but were kept hushed. Despite all the baggage and sexist mistrust, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton presents herself as an honest politician.
This election shows that solutions do not reside entirely on the presidency. No matter who wins, we must refuse to contribute to the self-defeating belief that this upcoming presidency may lead toward an unstoppable apocalypse.
Despite the annoyance of not having a national voting holiday and my disbelief in a system that discounts the popular vote, allows states to use Jim Crow-style voter suppression and prevents undocumented people and Puerto Ricans from getting a say on who’s running their government, I’m dragging myself to the voting booth.
I’m voting to exercise my freedom for political engagement and the belief that my voice matters.
Not voting or not being able to vote is in itself a form of silencing.
I’m voting for the option that does not impulsively and viciously shut down the work towards individual freedoms. A vote is a right, but is not the only key to tangible change. Political engagement can look like building an environment that allows the marginalized and unheard to be more politically engaged and refuse to accept imposed realities.
Beyond voting, civic efficacy is about finding ways to be involved in movements that champions the kind of education, within and outside the classroom walls, that fosters critical thinking and empathy in order to better our political environment.
Realizing that change does not depend entirely by voting, means realizing the change we want is contingent upon the collective sums of our daily actions and coming together to taking care of each other and the Earth.
In order to build a system that works for us and by us, we need to organize. The revolution begins when we come together to break ignorances and silences that prevent us from building bridges between our differences.
As Audre Lorde said, “… for it is not difference which immobilizes us, but silence. And there are so many silences to be broken.”
Rae Landingin is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in journalism and media studies with minors in art history and digital, communication, information and media. Her column, “A Sophisticated Tho(ugh)t,” runs on alternate Tuesdays.
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