A few days ago, I posted a two-part guest post from Kelly McCullough about the necessity of voting. The first part was practical, laying out some political truths about why this country has found itself where it is today. The second part was far more direct, talking about the people voting most affects. As a nominally fertile woman, I happen to be one of those people.
Apparently, Kelly’s post wasn’t blunt enough, as I have two people who usually display relatively normal reading comprehension skills going off the rails in the comments. One of them is bragging about how he does nothing to protect my rights while telling me I’m on a “high horse” and accusing me of calling him names. The other has a list of issues I must solve for him before he’ll do anything about my rights and is saying, oh, it doesn’t matter anyway, because systemic collapse must be on its way.
So, Kelly’s post was not blunt enough. I can fix that.
You really want a name from me? Fine. Let’s go with “complicit”.
There is no purity in politics. There really isn’t any purity in anything, because the whole concept as applied to people is religious in nature. For that matter, so is your “when the revolution/collapse comes” apocalyptic fantasy. There is no miraculous better world that arises from the rubble any more than there is a way to abstain from the consequences of your political decisions.
(Those of you out there now saying you’re determined to let a Republican win if your choice for Democrat doesn’t get the nomination? You don’t even get to claim religious fervor. You’re just straight up holding hostages, and you’ve chosen the most vulnerable among us to throw between you and the gun.)
Nor is there any opting out of politics. No political office will go unfilled because you didn’t want to vote. Someone is always going to have that power. The only question is who.
When you have the option to vote and don’t, you’re still making an active choice. You’re choosing to see us all ruled by “Eh, whoever the rest of you feel like because voting makes me feel dirty.” Given what we know about how elections have played out over the last several decades, in practical terms, that means most of you are choosing to elect Republicans, warmongering, income inequality, white supremacy, theocracy, misogyny and all. You have other options; you just choose not to take them.
What I really want to know is how much blood you can take with your choice to abstain and still feel clean while you’re doing it. If I’m going to be among your sacrifices, I want to know how much I count for. How much do any of us count for?
How many coat-hanger abortions and arrests for miscarriages are you willing to condone in order to feel pure when you won’t vote because our president didn’t call people to account for torture? Where is that balance?
How many people can be sold into dangerous prisons while you feel virtuous for abstaining from the party of the mayor who brought us the cover-up of a police shooting? How many Syrian refugees can remain in danger while you righteously declare “a pox on both their houses” over decisions from two wars ago? How many people will be denied access to their hospitalized partner while you point fingers at the Democrats who participated in obstructing same-sex marriage for a time? How many people can go hungry and ill now while you beat your chest about events of the 1990s? Just how bad can income inequality get while you lovingly stroke your conscience over Wall Street?
How much blood will you allow to be spilled because voting is impure?
That’s the choice you actually have. I don’t have clean hands, but neither do you. All you have is the choice–every time there is an election, every time you have the chance to influence the political process–about what happens next. All you have are the same political realities that the rest of us have.
There is no purity. There are only people, and people aren’t pure. We can’t be made pure. That’s a religious redemption fantasy.
So figure out where it is you draw that line. Who are you going to sacrifice for your fantasy? Then tell us. Be honest. Say to my face that my rights matter less than your imaginary purity. Say it out loud instead of putting your hands behind your back and trying to look angelic. It isn’t working.
No matter how often you tell yourself you’re pure, I know. We know. We don’t forget our rights are on the line the way you do. I, for one, am done letting you make the claim unchallenged.
You’re not pure. You’re complicit. And we’re going to keep saying so.