Like most of y’all, there was a lot on my mind after the Hobby Lobby ruling. So after I got up off my lazy ass to update my voter registration on Thursday morning—something I’d been putting off for too long—I wrote this up in the Aloud blog.
Reblog this to your friends if you want, but I’d appreciate it even more if you just read the whole thing and took it to heart.
In brief: you mad about the Supreme Court? Pissed off about the demented ideals of a conservative fringe stepping on your rights as a woman, as a voter, as a human being? It’s time for us to stop eating shit, Tumblr. The midterm elections are arguably as important as the Presidential election (if not more so). We’ve got a lot of work to do offline.
Here are few ideas from some rando on the internet desperately fighting off his inner cynic.
NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND: NOW IS NOT THE TIME FOR MEMES
The Hobby Lobby decision hit this week and the court didn’t disappoint, in so far as they issued a disappointing ruling. My typically light-hearted repartee with my dad ended with a thud shortly thereafter which—via text message—looks like this:
“Shame on those pieces of shit.”
But I’m not here to talk about the Hobby Lobby case, much as I’d like to. For an engaging explanation as to why it’s a boneheaded ruling, I recommend reading Justice Ginsburg’s dissent. For a trolling good time, hit up their Facebook page. (And for a better idea of who we’re up against, check out who was in on this beyond Hobby Lobby.)
I’m here to talk about us, and the time we expend to post things that make us feel better about having front row seats to the circus when we should probably use that energy on something constructive. Not that I’m judging, mind you. Seeing snarky remarks on jpegs stylized in a well-worn format makes us feel good in the same way listening to the Pee Wee’s Big Adventure theme song would lift one out of a bad mood.
The problem is, unfortunately, that’s where it usually ends. Something awful happens, we pretend Samuel L. Jackson said something about it, and we forget it till the next awful thing arrives.
But the 2014 midterm elections are coming up. We’re in a spot where the people we elect to positions of influence tell us money is speech, corporations are human, women are not, and the Constitutional right to cast a ballot is infinitely less important than being able to cast a bullet.
Now is not the time for memes.
Now is not the time for feel-good slacktivism, the effortlessness of preaching to the choir, nor the comfort of futility.
A lot of good things have happened since 2008, as have a lot of bad, and if we don’t get our shit together the bad’s going to start outweighing the good real goddamn quick.
A few actionable recommendations from a man who is not a doctor.
1) Register to vote… THEN VOTE.
The 2010 midterm election was a pivot toward the garbage we currently find ourselves in. I did not vote in said critical election. My flimsy excuse was that we were on the road and I didn’t think to get an absentee ballot in time. (Massachusetts did not have early voting until five minutes ago.) I figured, fuck it, it’s not important. It’s Massachusetts, right? There’s no way on earth Scott Brown was going to win that Senate seat.
Then Scott Brown won that Senate seat, and we had to contend with having Captain Pickup Truck representing the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for two years. Not our best hour (nor Martha Coakley’s) to be sure.
So, lesson learned: even in Massachusetts, don’t forget to vote.
“#bqhatevwr Henry, voting is stupid.”
Well, yeah, but so are a lot of things like music, smoking, and pretending that there’s anything worthwhile about The Big Bang Theory. I’ll even contend that voting may be the bottom of the barrel when it comes to effecting change and being heard.
However, I respectfully submit this: if voting in this country is bullshit, it is hard-won bullshit.
Think of the women’s suffrage movement of the early 20th century. Think of the literally bloody Civil Rights movement of the 60s. Think of the countless others who came before that. There is a depth in that struggle—one for infinitesimal odds that your view is accounted for—which cannot be ignored. These days, our Constitutionally protected brutum fulmen has gotten much harder to exercise for a lot of people now that ill-conceived and downright immoral voter suppression laws are breathing down their necks.
So, non-voters, I get it. I respect you deeply and I relate to you more than the gung-ho voting public. (Contrary to the popular trope, you are allowed to complain if you don’t vote, as loud as you fucking want.) Even in the best of times, voting is the spiritual equivalent of taking a dessert fork to a mountain range with the intent of eroding it to something more climbable.
But with everything that’s at stake, we have to stab at that massif with everything we’ve got.
2) Stay informed
If the Internet were a human being and websites were different cerebral lobes, Facebook would be the part of the brain that handles hysteria and determining if it’s a good idea to get in touch with your middle school girlfriend.
(Twitter would be located in the hemisphere that determines Luis Suárez is a scumbag and Tim Howard is your new god.)
It’s upsetting the amount of times I’ve been able to debunk the flotsam peppering the open seas of social media, often from people I consider incredibly discerning in the meatspace… and I’m just some dickhead who writes songs and has 20 spare seconds to Google “Metallica E-F lawsuit”.
Needless to say, social media is not a good place for accurate information. Our electronic echo chamber is ill-equipped for disseminating facts, so watch your back.
Or you will look like an idiot when you…
3) Write to your Congressperson
"And then… democracy happens."
As unpopular and lazy as Congress is these days, it’s still an important institution, if not the most important one.
If you get in touch with your representative, they will at least pretend to listen to you. I’ve written to my rep. several times in the past, and I’ve always gotten a response mailed back to me. (Whether or not it was their aide doing the writing, I’ll never know, but it was on a legit House of Representatives letterhead with text relating to my correspondence, so I’ll take it.)
Congress Merge has some good tips on the most effective way to get in touch. The short of it: know your issue, letters and emails in your own words are much better than sending form letters, making a phone call if there’s a vote coming up has an impact, and meeting with your representative in person is usually the best. The key words are your representative. Unless you live in the 8th district of Ohio or have some checks he can pass out on the House floor, John Boehner probably won’t give a shit about you.
Also: courtesy is key. They might be bastards, but bastards are people too. You want to get them to listen. If you’re a jerk, they will probably ignore you. (And if you threaten them, the FBI will be popping by for some coffee!)
4) Misery loves company… make it someone else’s problem too!
One dessert fork taking on a craggy plane is pointless, especially when the competition is basically this…
For any of this to have even the slightest chance of making a dent, more people need to be brought along. This is especially vital in the 22 states that have passed voting restrictions in the last four years, arguably implemented to reduce voter turnout.
Help people register to vote, encourage them to get in touch with their Congressperson, organize a carpool to your polling place, help others obtain the necessary ID and documentation for voting… whatever you’ve gotta do to make it happen.
If you’re unsure about the documentation you’ll need to cast a ballot this year, Vote411.org can help you obtain information on your local election.
I don’t know if this post will mean anything after I’ve hit the publish button, or if it serves any purpose beyond my own screaming into the abyss. But you’ve made it all the way to the end of this 1,311 word entry, which means you’re well on your way to beating TL;DR thrombosis.
There’s hope yet.
Register to vote: www.vote411.org/register
Who are my representatives?: whoismyrepresentative.com
What am I voting for?: www.smartvoter.org
Where do I vote?: www.eac.gov/voter_resources/contact_your_state.aspx