This presidential election was the first I could have legally voted in. I didn’t.
Neither candidate seemed to offer enough possibility of good to make me overlook the probability of evil, and there wasn’t a third party candidate with the potential to cause the two major nominees serious pain. So I sat it out.
This, my high school civics teacher would tell you, is a very bad thing. Voting is a civic duty, a sacred ritual, the right for which our forefathers, and more recently, foremothers, suffered and fought. Failing to take full advantage of our enfranchisement is the shallow, lazy, self-centered detachment of youth at it’s worst. Get out the youth vote! Also, reading is FUNdamental and good people recycle!
Well, pace Ms. Baxter, I’m not so sure. It seems to me the emphasis on and definition of political engagement in terms of voting is a ploy to keep citizens, and especially the young, from organizing in more volatile ways. Vote! Work within the system and with whatever alternatives the parties offer you, and that way you’ll discharge your civic duty without breaking anything.
Nice people vote, and nice people recycle, and nice people don’t do anything rash.
Be a good girl, Lena Dunham tells us. Be cute (everyone likes a smile!), wink, play your part, and accept that your virginity is still the most relevant part of your public person, and we’ll keep you safe and comfortable. Choose a nice guy, the guy who’s going to do right by you.
Be a good, submissive girl, and don’t ask too many questions. Pat yourself on the back for recycling, and don’t think about whether anything other than radical upheaval in our mode and standard of living is going to slow climate change. Cast your vote, and wash your hands of all the miserable injustices we live and move in.
Of course, there’s no actual dichotomy between voting and other methods of political engagement; there’s just something amazingly soporific about the way voting dominates the discourse on political action, and the way political action itself is just another method of personal curation. Vote, because it’s where the cute, cool, girls are. You know, the fun, sexy feminists.
Lena Dunham is not the voice of my generation, but perhaps here she’s finally found her demographic. The cool, cute, fun girls. The ones who don’t ask questions.
(For a more measured perspective, go here.)