Back when the Brexit vote happened I saw a lot of people saying that they voted for Brexit but simultaneously claimed that they are not racist. They argued that their reasons for supporting leaving the European Union were other than xenophobia, and therefore they should not be held responsible for the racial consequences of the voting results. However, many of the arguments for Brexit were overtly racist, leaving the EU may have major ramifications on immigration, and hate crimes have skyrocketed since the vote.
When the effect of an action is increased power for a majority group and negative consequences for oppressed groups, it doesn’t matter what the purported reason for that action is. If your policy, action, or vote has racist, sexist, or ableist impacts then it doesn’t matter what your intention is – you are responsible for the oppressive impacts of that action. It doesn’t matter that pro-Brexit voters think of themselves as not being racist, they supported a racist action with racist impacts and that is what matters.
Tomorrow the United States will finally conclude a long election process. A Donald Trump presidency has the potential to be the most actively oppressive presidency in memory. A vote for Hillary Clinton is the only action that can have the effect of avoiding that future. Any other action – voting third party, refusing to vote, or writing in a candidate – has the effect of increasing the risk of an oppressive future. While Clinton’s policy positions and record may not match yours, or my, preferences perfectly, it is the EFFECT of our votes that matter. A third party vote, for example, may have the effect of putting into power a fascist demagogue no matter what the voter’s intention may be.
Furthermore, this same is true for elections for Senate, Congressional seats, and state and local elections. Our actions in this election matter only insofar as the effect they have. Certain votes will increase the likelihood of a seriously frightening future, while others decrease that risk. I will be voting on Tuesday with all of this in mind. I will vote to block a Donald Trump presidency, and to attempt to deny the GOP control of the Senate. I will vote in my state and local elections for a future that doesn’t uplift the extremists that Trump has emboldened.