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Tattoo Politics


This is shooting fish in a barrel, I know. But I could not let this insipid Vox essay by a young Jill Stein voter go unmentioned.

It’s hard to say why so many millennials are voting third party. Among my peers, most are in the bag for Clinton because they are so scared of a Trump presidency. But overall, I feel that our generation is much more progressive than the older generation. We grew up in the Obama years, under an administration that gave us the Affordable Care Act and passed laws to protect marriage equality. I think people my age are hungry to move even more toward the left. Hillary, with her moderate views and establishment attitude, is not going to be that champion.

That’s why I’m standing for Stein. I can cast my ballot without guilt, knowing that she represents who I am as a person. People tell me to compromise and vote for the lesser of two evils — but I cannot compromise when it comes to my beliefs, especially when they involve human rights and systemic oppression. If Stein didn’t happen to fall deeply in step with my views, I would abstain from voting entirely. I vote based on principle, not because of party loyalty.

It is a moral, not a pragmatic, act.

Personally, I think it is a moral act to not let a fascist who will destroy American democratic institutions into the Oval Office. But then Hillary Clinton doesn’t quite get intersectionality so both sides are the same, right?

This is the worst possible identity politics–what I call tattoo politics. What do I mean by this? It’s people who display their politics like their new arm tattoo, showing it for all the world to see and then saying that anyone not on board with their particular issue is a gigantic sellout who cannot be voted for. This is pure narcissism and total consumerism, which is of course ironic coming from the left. But the atomized individualistic consumer model of voting is something I have railed against for a long time. On top of it is a puritanical moralism that suggests that your vote is a strictly moral choice that implicates you in whatever that president does and, more importantly, that withholding your vote from a compromised candidate means that you are not implicated and that you above those sellouts who got their hands dirty. The former part of that construction may be true, but the last is certainly false. All Americans are responsible for their government. Voting is a time when you have no legitimate choice but to pick which of the two major candidates are going to be the best and then organize before the next election to get better candidates. Voting is not how change happens. Voting consolidates the change since the last election cycle. But I am screaming into a tornado to challenge the extreme consumerism of modern politics.

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