Let’s Talk About Voting

Citlaly Escobar, opinions editor

The alternative to voting is not something that can be summarized with an article. There is not a “one size fits all” solution. The alternatives are rooted in the understanding that facism cannot- and will not- be voted out. Instead, the alternative to voting is something that is battled on the feet of people caring, working and looking out for each other. It is building mutual aid projects, taking care of those without homes in your area and demanding for immediate and expansive corporate and political reform. It involves putting your body on the line and direct political confrontation. Alternatives to voting are not comfortable, not short-term and are not easy.

The upcoming election this November is undeniably one of the most tense moments many of us Auggies will be facing in 2020. No one is really sure what will happen. The heightened anxiety for the election has undoubtedly been coupled with recent events beginning in March when the Augsburg community was forced to revert online and thus had many Auggie students facing financial security, homelessness, familial instability, and worsening mental health. In the wake of George Floyd’s murder by the Minneapolis Police this past May (and countless other police-murders since then) all Auggies have been impacted with some form of understanding of white supremacy in U.S. society, and how it is entrenched and operates in all the nation’s structures.

Every four years, the United States is faced with a presidential election that can “decide the future” of the country. But what does that mean when the past presidency was not elected by the popular vote? What does it mean when over half of the people in the U.S. who are eligible to vote, don’t, or when about 1 in every 44 people in the U.S. are not able to vote at all? What does it mean to have a presidential election that never ensures the radical promise of “liberation” but rather adopts reformist policies of “well, we can’t do it all, but at least something is better than nothing”? What does voting mean in a system that forces marginalized people to grovel at every election for crumbs when the top 1% of people are freely buying it out through lobbyists and dark money?

What does voting mean in a system that forces marginalized people to grovel at every election for crumbs when the top 1% of people are freely buying it out through lobbyists and dark money?

To say that the reason why we are “in this situation” is because people voted third party (or not at all) is grossly inaccurate and an act of victim-blaming. As a reminder, Trump did not win in 2016 because of “one person’s vote;” he lost by three million votes. He won because of the way the political system was designed through the electoral college, which was constructed through gerrymandering of districts which in turn were funded through dark money in politics and lobbying groups. It might be plausible to say that Trump’s administration “stole” the election; but is it stealing when it was designed that way? Doesn’t his win say more about the system of the government and its processes than it says about marginalized people who did not vote or voted third-party? 

For those of us who are eligible to vote, the election is coming up on Nov. 3. As it stands, there is no clear projection of who will win. Because of the stakes of the election- with the largest civil rights movement in history, the global pandemic, healthcare, reproductive rights, immigration, etc- people are in a frenzy to get other people to the polls and vote. It has become trendy to say phrases like, “vote or don’t complain!” or “George Floyd can’t vote- but you can,” or even blame people for the conditions they’re in, as phonebankers and social media stars say “if you’re not voting, you’re asking for another 4 years of x, y and z.” At Augsburg it’s most common to hear phrases like, “well, I don’t want Biden either but he’s better than Trump, so I’ll vote for him!”

To that, I say this: who is either candidate “better” for? Because to those who are facing incarceration, in nations that are facing U.S. sanctions, and those who are BIPOC, low-income and disenfranchised, neither candidate offers strong reforms. In retrospect, it can be said that Trump will accelerate facism in the U.S. and Biden’s election will perceivably slow it down, but what tangible reforms can be done when the foundations of the U.S. is one of violence, genocide and exploitation?

To those who feel the inclination to shame a marginalized person for not voting, I ask, what are you doing to support your local community besides being active in politics? Are you doing supply drives, feeding those around you, and getting to know the people you live nearby? Are you hosting authentic political education workshops? Are you taking action in your local organizations and schools to build a liberatory future? Or is voting once every 2-4 years your “political activism”?