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).