Voting Isn’t a Magic Bullet: But Let’s Be Real, We Are In A War


By Phoenix Calida

Regarding voting- over the last few days I’ve been told I’m everything from “fucking stupid” to ignorant, to uniformed because I vote.
I’m none of those things, and people need to stop assuming what I know.

I know I am not hetero, rich, white, or a man.
I know this means no politician is ever truly in it for me.
I’m from Chicago, I know more about political corruption than most of the country.
I know how capitalism, nepotism, pay to play, white supremacy, puritanical, and hetero/cis centric ideals form our world.

I also know that we have a massive problem with people in poverty and people being homeless. I know cuts to medical care will further devastate people that already struggle. I know if schools stop serving breakfast and lunch, poor kids will go hungry. I know people who need medical help won’t get it because they don’t have papers. I fucking know that every winter in Chicago, homeless folks freeze to death on the streets. I know many homeless are people of color, or lgtbqia, or mentally ill, or drug users. I know people who don’t know about carbon monoxide will die because of faulty heaters. I know poor people will freeze to death in their apartments because they can’t pay the heat bill.

I know global warming has added to this problem by creating a polar vortex in our city.

I know we are already overwhelmed trying to keep these people warm and alive, but if my vote helps make sure the less eco friendly candidate doesn’t get elected, I can slightly lessen the burden. If I can make sure the person that supports cutting funding to programs that help the poor pay heat bills, I’ve made the burden smaller. If the person that wants to cut funding to homeless shelters doesn’t get elected, at least I know the problems won’t be worse this winter. If we can elect the the person that won’t shut down more mental health facilities or rehab centers, we have a tiny bit less of a battle in front of us. If we can make sure the candidate that wants to cut school funding or social services to the poor doesn’t win, we can at least help on that front.

Voting isn’t some magic bullet that’s gonna just solve our problems. But be real, we are in a war. It’s literal blood, sweat, tears, and dead bodies for every inch we make it up the hill. And I will take any and every measure possible to shrink the body count and lessen the tears.

We are overwhelmed, we are tired, but we can’t stop. And if some politician inadvertently makes the war easier but not cutting funding or further hurting a marginalized group, I think we’d be foolish not to take advantage of that vote.
So yes. I am choosing to vote because I cannot afford to waste *any* resources available to me.

3 thoughts on “Voting Isn’t a Magic Bullet: But Let’s Be Real, We Are In A War”

  1. I recognize that this is complicated, and I’ve got very little interest in chastising any individual for their decision to vote or not, since I think such individual decisions are essentially irrelevant.
    I would, however, dispute the political reasoning that underlies this defense of voting as such. It seems to me that if we want to talk about wasting resources, mobilizing voters is a serious misallocation of time, money, and effort.
    On one hand, voting fails to meet immediate needs. Organizing people to cast ballots fails to put food on the table, pay the rent, or take care of the kids. All of these things are within the reach of community organization through direct action – and I mean that in the proper sense, so that it would include the formation of childcare collectives, food-sharing programmes, etc.
    On the other hand, organizing people to cast ballots rarely translates into longer term strategic power *unless* (!!!) it’s part of a more general organizing project. In that context, I still think it’s a waste of time that could be spent on directly meeting important needs, but, in any case, the useful aspect is the long-term organizational capacity, and not the election of this or that Dempublican.
    Perhaps I’m wrong, and there is specific context that makes voting more useful than the spending the time one takes to organize voters-as-voters on something else. However, I think that this specific context needs to be spoken to, because this general position falls pretty flat-on-its-face strategically. It’s really something akin to “I need to co-operate with that community policing initiative, because the alternative is worse police.” The dichotomy is false. The question isn’t “organize voters” or “don’t organize voters” – it’s “organize voters” or “use those resources for something entirely different”.

  2. We can all agree that voting is pretty ineffective when the 1% control who gets nominated and how the votes get counted. Theoretically, the ballot box is a great nonviolent conflict resolution tool, but most politicians today avoid talking about the real conflicts. I believe we could change that.
    We can start by practicing real democracy in our neighborhoods. We can meet and discuss peacefully the serious problems we face together, coordinating our responses to be more effective in reaching genuine solutions. Together, we can assert our authority to tell government how we will allow it to serve us. We can stand up to heartless corporations and mindless bureaucrats and say, in one strong and united voice “Not in our town!”

  3. Can anarchists endorse and enact “transitional anarchism”? Somewhat akin to models of transitional justice, transitional anarchism would involve working with some dominant institutions while simultaneously dismantling/replacing them.

    If we can’t endorse some sort of transitional anarchism, do we then tend to merely sign on as if evangelists trying to out-radical one another?

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