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The Only Resolution that Matters: VOTE by Chris Thompson
It is resolution time again. We always promise to cut down on our sugar, or kick down our alcohol consumption, shed that winter weight, or end the “negativity”. Sometimes we make a promise to pick up a hobby or read more books or enter a gym membership. Others decide to not give up or add anything in the new year that they know they will inevitably ignore and peter out by the end of March. All of these routes are valid, and I cannot fault the naked honesty of the latter. Don’t let anyone judge or shame you for whatever path you choose. However, whichever way you go, whatever resolution you make or don’t make, promise that you will do one thing: VOTE.
Register to vote, and then DO IT. In fact, stop reading this, open up a new tab, and figure out how to register to vote. And then go do it. New York State now makes voter registration all online. You have NO excuse. GO. VOTE. When you’re done, help others get registered to vote. This is the bare minimum thing you can do to combat the huge swing in modern politics and policy. 2020 is a big election year, but don’t stop there. Vote in the off years, too. Only voting in the “big” election years yields the “big candidates” that we always complain about because they look like the inhabitants of an Orwellian farm. Voting locally is how we unseat the people who only care about their own success, and not the betterment of the people.
Our system is corrupt at its heart. It was flawed by original design. But show me a system of government developed by humans and I will show you a system that has corruption. Abstaining from voting perpetuates the corruption by allowing the people in office to take whatever measures they can to KEEP the system corrupt. The US was born in hypocrisy. The Founding Fathers who preached about the inherent personal liberty of everyone, all while they owned people and would not let women have any personal liberty. It is a lot more difficult to change a regime from the outside than from within. That is why China built a giant wall…and their dynasty was still overturned by way of their own citizens. Hitler worked INSIDE the government to create his personal hellscape, not remotely from Austria. We invaded Afghanistan and Iraq to “change the regime”, and look at how that turned out. France didn’t force us to ratify the 13th, 14th, and 19th Amendments.
Know that not every candidate will perfectly match your criteria. None of them will. You’re not looking for a life partner. You’re looking for a qualified candidate (though you shouldn’t look for perfection in a life partner either)! If you abstain from voting because YOUR candidate didn’t win a primary, then you are just giving up a vote for their political opponent. And don’t accuse the third-party candidate of “stealing” votes from the mainstream one. Most elections yield more people abstaining from voting than voting for their opposing side. SO don’t be mad at the Jill Stein voters of 2016. Be mad at the non-voters. At least the Jill Stein voters voiced their opinion.
Abstinence from voting means you have no reason to complain about any policy that is made, any measure that is taken, and any action that is taken by our government, because you did not do your base duty. If I don’t say what I want for dinner when someone asks me, and then dinner is liverwurst, then I can’t really complain, because I had the option to choose something different, and I did not take it. I’m a little bit confused about someone who would vote for the polar opposite of whatever their first choice is, but at least you voted. However, again, you cannot complain when that person who is the antithesis of who you want as a candidate does things of which you are completely aberrant, because YOU VOTED FOR THEM.
“This is the only resolution you need this year. VOTE”
I know that the candidate that you like looks good on paper, but trust, they are going to be different in office. In the case of the President, the only people who think that they have the ability to run an entire country are INCREDIBLY arrogant, for better or worse. When your candidate wins, you WILL be disappointed. They WILL break a promise or two. They WILL drop the ball on something that you hold important. That is still not an excuse to abstain from voting. That is a reason to keep your voice heard and to vote them out if they mess up royally.
If you claim to be an activist beyond just the armchair, then get out of the chair, and go vote this year. Get the forms, IDs, horcruxes, or whatever you need in your state to register, and do it. And VOTE. It may be difficult to do in some regions, but it is still the simplest form of activism that you can do, but it is so important. People created “poll taxes” in order to black people from voting. They would rough them up and sit in the ballot booth to force them to vote a certain way. They would give them a grammar test in Chinese to discourage them from voting. They would KILL people. Women were ostracized, slut-shamed, slandered, and beaten when they fought for the vote. Why do you think certain legislators keep re-drawing districts and making it even more difficult for certain people to register to vote? How many times has anyone in the US blocked people from doing something inconsequential? Has anyone been put through a gauntlet of impossible tests, tortured, hanged, shot, stabbed, burned alive, or fire bombed because they wanted to take up crotchet? Because at least half of some of my ancestors (and I wager some of yours) have. They fought tooth and nail to gain the right to vote. By you saying you will not, you not only throw away the easiest way to be active, you spit on all of the freedom fighters’ graves who you claim that you exalt.
This is the only resolution you need this year. VOTE.
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About Chris Thompson
(he/his/him) Chris Thompson is an engineer, writer, comedian, and activist who made Rochester, New York his home in 2008. In addition to his role as Contributor for 540Blog , he currently writes the Chronicles of Nonsense segment for the Almost Tuesday show on WAYO-FM 104.3, and regularly posts and writes on his own on Instagram and Twitter at @ChronsOfNon.Additionally , Chris is a Food Writer for Rochester City Newspaper. His blog is www.chroniclesofnonesense.com
Scale Up 2020 Campaign
540WMain will celebrate its 4 year anniversary with a party and extravaganza on Saturday June 13, 2020. In just four years the organization has become a pillar in the Susan B. Anthony neighborhood and a convener and curator of important and vital community conversations, classes, and programs. Your financial support helps us scale up this work in 2020 and beyond with a year long fundraising goal of $40,000