Let’s Vote Defiantly

This time feels different, and not just because in-person voting will now be open for 10 days in LA County.

This political moment feels like the most pivotal in my lifetime. We have a choice to make that will define the rest of the decade and affect all of our lives to come.

Overstatement? I doubt it. Can you imagine the 1960s if Nixon had been president instead of Kennedy, or the 1980s if Reagan lost to Jimmy Carter? Rehashing the 2000 election is triggering for many, but few could deny how the aughts would be different if Al Gore had presided instead of George W. Bush.

Yet 2020 feels different, despite also being an election year at the start of a new decade. Perhaps it is recency bias, but today feels like some of the most polarized our politics have ever been. The respectability and civility that are so often demanded of those on the periphery of society have been absent in the White House, setting the tone for our political culture.

These times have simultaneously driven people towards and away from politics, with the latter believing it to be “too messy” and generally unpleasant. Those observations are valid, and the proof isn’t ever far out of sight on Twitter. More importantly, being a student is exhausting, and the cost of living in LA demands so much of our energy.

Meanwhile, by fate, dumb luck or divine will, I have drifted towards politics. To be clear, I am an exception, in that I was imbued with some natural passion for it, along with an ego big enough to sustain my involvement in it, and the privilege (especially financial) to invest so much of my energy into it.

This is damning, for our country and society, because privilege ought not decide whether or not someone engages in our politics. Democracy is a doomed lie if the largest portion of the population is set up to fail like this, and never incentivized or empowered otherwise to participate.

Indeed, ours is a dire moment, but in it I also see potential and opportunity, to create a more just and considerate world. We should vote defiantly. Those with the privilege of time or experience, should assist and empower our family and neighbors to participate, so that we uplift the whole of our communities.

Voting is not everything, but it is a tangible and accessible first step towards the justice we deserve. For instance in this election, the possibility of war, deportations and healthcare rights are just a few real consequences that will be for us to determine. Local issues are even less publicized than these, and matter just as much to our immediate communities, where our everyday lives are affected.

Lastly, on the messiness of politics, understand that it is no accident. Your voice should be actively coveted in government, to ensure a healthy democracy, but it is not. Other voices, groups and classes are given priority over you. The ails of our society reflect as much.

But I’m excited by what we can get done together. A new decade is here, just as we prepare to enter our careers after college. I like our odds.

Article written by Michael Meeks.