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Sweet Baby Jesus, Just F**king VotePosted by Nathan S. on 10/17/12 | Filed under Opinion, Politics
RefinedHype is my baby, but I've been lucky enough to have a lot of help raising that baby in the form of a steady rotation of other writers. (Possibly terrible metaphor alert.) For the most part I've been more than happy to let Jason James, The Platform crew and more bring RefinedHype its political element, but since I haven't seen a viewpoint I hold represented yet, I'm jumping in. To put it bluntly, sweet baby jesus, just f**king vote.
Once upon a time, a young Nathan S. was neck-deep in Rage Against the Machine and Public Enemy and thought that all politicians were identical, and identically fucked up. With a firm belief that voting was an exercise in futility I boycotted the first election I was eligible to vote in: the year was 2000 and what followed was eight year of one the most damaging presidencies in American history.
Granted I was in California, a state that would have gone Democratic regardless of my vote, but I learned a valuable lesson that year; there actually is a difference between politicians and parties, although often that difference is completely absent or razor thin. Lord knows if Al Gore was elected America wouldn't have become a shiny, happy place, but it also wouldn't have been the near-apocalypse that Bush and his crew (Cheney, Karl Row, etc.) implemented.
Which is why it's so frustrating to hear so many people - unfortunately including a lot of influential rappers - say since there's no difference between Obama and Romney, no one should vote. Really though? There's absolutely no difference between Romney and Obama?
How about we start with the fact that Romney's campaign is backed by a nexus of billionaires, while Obama is widely known to be the most billionaire-unfriendly president in modern history. Right off the bat that's an important difference; call me crazy, but I don't exactly trust billionaires to keep my family's best interests in mind.
Do you think Romney would have passed the health care reform we so desperately need, even the watered-down version that is "Obamacare"? Do you think Romney would have passed the Dream Act? Declared his support for gay marriage? Those are three issues I personally care about, and I know Romney would have rather been seen at a Too $hort concert than done any of them.
I think a large part of the problem stems from the outsized, and frankly often delusional, expectations so many had for Obama during his historic 2008 campaign, delusions Obama often encouraged in order to win. The sad truth is that no one person, even a perfect one, can effect the type of change we need, and Obama is far from perfect. No matter who's elected, they'll be forced to work within a system dominated by corporate interests and a mind-numblingly broken Congress that makes even the slightest hint of progress painfully difficult. But I also believe it's extraordinarily dangerous to confuse "not as much progress as we'd like" with "no progress".
To be clear, I'm absolutely one of those who are disappointed in Obama. When I watched his inauguration, for the first time in years I felt some flicker of hope that America might finally become the country it has the potential to be, and that flicker has had a bucket or two of water throw on it in the last four years. I won't hesitate to say that Obama's failed as many times as he's succeeded, and I know I'm far from alone in feeling that way.
But I also think that too many are now apparently willing to accept terrible because they didn't get perfect. Let me see if I can put this in rap analogy terms:
Lil B and Drake are running for Rap President - whoever wins will have their music played constantly on every radio station, TV channel and internet site in America for the next four years. Now you might be pissed that your choices are between Lil B and Drake - Fuck, we can't get Tupac to run for Rap President? Kendrick Lamar? Anyone but those two? - but that doesn't mean you'd rather listen to Lil B for four years straight than Drake. If you had to choose, and you do, everyone here would take Drake. (And yes, in this analogy Lil B is Mitt Romney.)
As insane as that analogy might have been, the presidential election isn't that far off. Even if you boycott the election, someone's getting elected, and that person will have a profound and direct influence on your life. So even if you believe you'd be choosing the least-terrible option, why wouldn't you choose the least-terrible option? Wouldn't you rather have your life be less-terrible than terrible for the next four years?
Regardless of who you vote for president, or if you vote at all, it's crucial to remember that while national politics do effect our lives, more profound changes are often simply made in our neighborhoods. Too many people elected Obama and then sat down and waited for their lives to change, and are now angry they didn't get what they voted. Well waiting for any politician to give you what you want makes about as much sense as waiting for Dr. Dre to deliver "Detox".
So step into the ballot box to vote, and then the second you leave start thinking about how to improve your community without relying on politicians. Volunteer at local organizations, take some initiative in cleaning up your street, hell even just making sure you really know your neighbors can improve your life more than any president ever could.
I'm sure a lot of folks will argue against me, and frankly that's a good thing. What's even more important than voting is actually taking the time to think and discuss these issues, and while I may disagree with them, I've got a lot of respect for people who don't believe in voting. (Or at least the ones who have really thought through their stance and aren't just using it as an excuse for complacency.) But so far I haven't really seen the "sweet baby jesus, just fu**king vote" viewpoint really represented on these pages - problem solved.