Right now, as the bid for the Democratic throne still seems to be wide open, everyone and their sisters seem to want to get political. As the daunting primaries approach in the Spring of 2020, my disdain for all things political only grows. It’s not apathy, per se, but it’s getting dangerously close. As the news becomes saturated with Democrats racing one another to get ahead in their pretence fight of “caring about communities,” I have just stopped caring. Yes, I watch the debates and laugh at the memes, but in terms of actual critical thought, my brain is as good as a jar of marmalade. I am tired, and I’m sure other people feel the same way.
Before you come for my neck– I vote. I always vote. I will always vote. You will always catch me having an opinion, or somehow having kept up with the news. I will never stop caring, even minimally, about the state of the world. But I disagree wholly that if you are not constantly consumed by the burning of the world that you are somehow not Feminist, not “woke”, or don’t deserve to have your say. What drives me absolutely insane during election cycles is when people post to Instagram saying that “if you don’t vote, you don’t get to complain.” That statement will immediately earn an unfollow from me (because I am the harbinger of all that is popular and cool, and you should definitely care if I unfollow you on Instagram).
Not only is there a slew of reasons why people don’t vote (i.e. permanent addresses, convicted for felonies that shouldn’t be felonies, the historical and structural gameplan to keep communities of color away from the voting polls, and other reasons described in this article from PEW Research Center), but keeping up with the Democrats should be its own TV show. It is painful, cringeworthy, nonsensical, and pure and utter trash some days to read, understand, and reflect on the state of politics.
But this article isn’t just about voting. Most people (correctly) assume that I have an opinion, or a candidate, or an issue that I care about. But they also (wrongly) assume that I want to share it. And this is how most people who are “political” feel, I have found these days. Those of us in the field of Caring Way Too Much do it from 9-5. Do you expect an engineer to keep engineering after their workday is done?
If ignoring politics is a privilege, then being utterly consumed in politics is surely a burden, most often placed on the bodies of those most vulnerable. Not only do we force policies by privilege people, for privileged people onto people of color, Indigenous people, disabled people, convicted felons, etc., but we then place the blame on vulnerable communities for not showing up at the polls.
I used to be one of those people, posting my vote to Instagram– because being civically responsible is so sexy these days– but I have since learned the error of my ways. Look, I’m not saying that voting isn’t important. Electoral work is highly important as one of the only ways to get people actually involved. I am extremely lucky in that I have always been from a swing county, so my voice literally actually counts.
I don’t want to make the point of this article that it’s okay not to vote. It isn’t. Because of the aforementioned slew of reasons that vulnerable communities cannot vote, it is even more important that you– a privileged person– does. But please, this election cycle, do not put the burden of politics on someone who doesn’t want it.
Vote, talk about politics on your social media, discuss it with your conservative family at Holiday dinners and parties. But if someone puts up boundaries around politics, believe them. The world is burning, and there are only so many memes we can make before the reality reaches the core of our beings, and the depression never lifts.
I will vote, I will have an opinion, and I will take a stand. But that doesn’t mean I am not empty inside, like so many other politically active people. Respect that emptiness, and don’t push it.
Recently, our Brown Prince Hasan Minhaj told us to “close some tabs” when it comes to the news. He gave me permission to take care of myself in this way when it’s been fairly unpopular to stop caring. When he said that, I breathed a sigh of relief. I can care about the 2020 election in a minimal way, and still close that tab. And that’s going to be very unpopular for those who still have hope in the elections. I don’t. And it will take heaven and hell to make me believe in them again after this doozy of a year.
So, I’m going to close that tab, and call it a year. 2020, I will put my peace of mind first. And that means not throwing a fit every time Joe Biden flashes his pearly whites at the camera as he makes a comment about running for the Presidential election.