Top 10 Epic Reasons Why Americans Should Give a Shit About Voting

Voting – or not voting – in some way impacts almost every aspect of our lives, including whom we can love, our bodies, our food, our air and water. Voting is important in spite of our fundamentally corrupt political system

by Victoria Collier and Ben-Zion Ptashnik, Truthout | News Analysis –

vote button 2014

“Democratic elections must be part of the central commons we build together. To change everything, we need everyone.” (Image: Election voting via Shutterstock)

Pop icon Russell Brand raised a ruckus last year when he exhorted, “Don’t vote” to millions of his fans; a radical political directive under fire even by the likes of Sex Pistol Johnny Rotten.

But Brand was just preaching to the choir.

Many Americans, particularly the young, believe that voting is an exercise in futility, or worse, an immoral display of support for a fundamentally corrupt political system. Far more appealing is to build a diverse grassroots movement – organically and horizontally – to change our consciousness, our lifestyles, the way we grow our food, harness our energy, travel, trade – and how we treat each other as human beings.

In other words, direct action to the change the world, starting with ourselves and our communities, seems more viable than investing hope in a political apparatus sold out to big money corporate interests on both sides of the aisle.

But not everyone feels this way. Some see our current dire situation as more of a yes, and opportunity, as in: Yes, we should do all of the above: radically change ourselves, radically change the world, and radically engage in the political process.

Casting a ballot never precludes more direct acts – that’s just a cop-out. The fact is that not every societal change is made at the personal level, or through revolution on the streets. That’s why millions before us, most recently African Americans and women, have protested, fought, were imprisoned, set upon by police dogs, lynched, force-fed in hunger strikes, and killed for the right to cast a ballot. And even so, millions of former felons will still be disenfranchised in the coming elections, as will those who lack proper ID (thanks to a slew of new discriminatory laws pushed by the right wing to suppress minority voters).

Meanwhile, thousands of students in Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution are putting their bodies on the line right now to demand true suffrage, standing up to the Chinese Communist oligarchy that murdered democratic activists in Tiananmen Square. Those youth are fighting for control of their future by demanding democracy and refusing to back down.

In a candid moment that he may live to regret, Hong Kong’s Beijing-appointed political leader Leung, who lives in a palatial mansion, stated that China could not allow the majority of the citizens of Hong Kong to rule, because doing so might allow the working poor people a potentially dominant role in running their own lives.

In light of all this, Russell Brand’s call to toss aside what so many still mightily struggle and suffer to win, seems disrespectful, in the kindest light.

If we have a future (and granted, this is debatable), we all have to Occupy Democracy. We need to Occupy Elections, Occupy Legislatures and Occupy Local town and City Councils. The concept of Occupation has been central to many movements over the past century. Occupying means you are bringing your conscious intention and fierce dedication to change the system to reflect your values.

In a recent article, Carl Gibson of US Uncut points to the high standard and sanity of living in Denmark, a country where 87 percent of voters turn out. That public showing could account for practically all educational institutes in Denmark being free as well as a truly “living” minimum wage of $21 an hour.

For those of you still on the fence, here are 10 pretty epic reasons to vote this November – and to prepare to get active in the critical battles to come in 2016.

1. Climate Change

As Naomi Klein and 400,000 protesters in NYC recently pointed out, climate change is forcing a time of reckoning upon our capitalist culture of excess. While everyone will have to make profound personal lifestyle changes to help balance our ecological books, many of the big transitions to sustainable energy and development must happen at the state and federal levels. And it will take an enormous amount of political activism, cooperation and vision to move the agenda.

Cynical political abandonment allows the wrong people to control our government and decide whether climate mitigation is a national priority, or a “liberal conspiracy.”

So, after taking the Climate Mobilization Pledge, as we solar-panel our roofs, relearn the wonders of riding a bike, cut carbon-intensive meat from our diet and consider establishing an eco-village with our friends, we can also get involved in supporting the candidates who are committed to taking meaningful action. Tremendous government investment and war-time mobilization is needed to make the transition away from the climate cliff.

We must Occupy the streets and the political process at every turn, to change laws that disallow for a sustainable society: from international trade agreements to local policy banning front yard vegetable gardens and keeping a few goats and chickens.

Whether you “believe” in voting or not, the fascists will take over if we don’t stop them at the ballot box.

So yes, your active political participation and your vote will help determine whether humanity builds a green bridge across the abyss, or rides an oil-funded warhead into oblivion.

2. The Koch Brothers.

Heard of them? These two guys are the fossil fuel, petro-chemical kings of our dirty and self-destructive economy. They’re worth $43 billion and deeply invested in thwarting a less carbon-intensive, more just society. To that end, they’re spending some of their pocket change (a few billion or so), and using their pay-to-play operation ALEC, to control our political process: buy candidates and campaign ads, fund climate-change denier propaganda, install anti-democratic puppets in office, dismantle unions and kill state legislation promoting renewable energy and other green incentives.

Voting overwhelmingly for candidates who are not funded by the Kochs will knock back these arrogant oligarch’s attempt to simply buy our country and our future. Clearly they think Americans couldn’t care less. Too busy playing with our X-boxes and learning to twerk.

Wouldn’t it feel good to prove them wrong?


Reprinted with permission