Tuesday, February 5, 2008

To Vote or Not to Vote?

For the past few elections I’ve felt no urgency whatsoever to “cast my ballot”. However, voting is a tradition in my family, so just like it was a given that my siblings and I would go to college, it was a given that when we turned eighteen we would register to vote and exercise that right. I think I understood voting to be a clear cut process or at least it was explained to me that way in social studies class. You vote for someone and your vote counts. But I haven’t been convinced for some time that the process is clear or that there is even a true process.

I am aware of the history of voting rights and in particular, the struggles of women and people of African descent in this country and others. And everyday, I choose to not participate in acts/relationships/jobs etc. that will not benefit me. So it is an issue for me to continue to participate in voting when I don’t see how my community, the schools I work in or my people benefit. At this point voting seems like an act of good faith and is it the only option if we want to be “counted” or “participate in change”? I’m pro-education for ALL of the masses so I watched, somewhat interested as the younger voting demographic was “courted” by Bill Clinton via MTV and its town halls and “Choose or Lose”, not to mention voter registration campaigns like “Rock the Vote” and “Vote or Die”. I like it when people have agendas to promote, those moments can give rise to an educational opportunity. They can stimulate thoughts and foster dialogue. I just don’t believe that equal rights and justice or food, clothes & shelter will happen with the vote alone.

It is said in education pedagogy that good teachers have clear expectations and make the learning process transparent in some way. So why shouldn’t these same principles apply to the process or the state of the process of electoral voting here? Voting is not magic. So how is this process being talked about with our children especially when you consider the last Presidential Election and the resulting selected president? There is much to be illuminated with regards to the space between pulling that lever and food being in your fridge or textbooks being in your child’s school. With a presidential election year approaching the climate is almost like the Christmas shopping season; everyone abuzz and swept up in the frenzy. I stopped celebrating Christmas several years ago because I didn’t know what I got from the experience or why I continued to participate. Voting and Christmas are both traditions I was raised with and didn’t question but I do now. What do we believe we are voting for and what are we really voting for?

-Adisa Vera Beatty

1 comment:

Wendi Muse said...

i totally agree. often the complexities of voting (can you say electoral college?!?!? why do we still have this?!??!) and the limited number of quality candidates at times can be very offputting. there needs to be a serious revival of voter confidence in the process and the candidates, but i think we have a long way to go. i appreciate your sharing your thoughts on this, especially at a time with suffrage-related zeal is high. it's ok to have doubts, and one who has questions and doubts is often the one who makes the most reasoned, clear choice.