TO VOTE, OR NOT TO VOTE, THAT IS THE QUESTION……a lot of us are asking ourselves before election day. And like the play Hamlet, whose main character struggled with tough decisions, we too, are struggling to decided who should lead our great country for the next four years to come. Before I carry on any further with this article, it is important that I emphasize to the reader that I am categorically aware of the many anachronisms that exist in making the comparison between the play Hamlet and the current political situation that many of us find ourselves in today. Moreover, my intentions for summoning such a wonderful and complicated play was, to simply just focus on how we, the voters, and young Hamlet, were/are presented with tough decisions that, within them, contains a multiplicity of solutions.
And who is this “we” that I speak of? Well, majority of us are small business owners, college students, and non-profit workers. And according to an analysis from U.S. census data from the Pew Research Center, we are around age eighteen to thirty-five and we’re now the largest political force in America. That is f*cking huge!….but at the same time it might not be a good kind of huge because we’re also classified as “undecided voters” and undecided voters do not vote.
It is no surprise that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the most despised candidates in the history of American politics. And rightfully so; one is a two-faced technocrat who speaks in the feel-your-pain language of the working-poor but yet possess no policy to address their unique quagmires. And the second one is an orange-talking STD who think it’s ethical and morally right to disparage women and deport the children of eleven million immigrants back to Mexico. But yet, some like Bernie Sanders, President Barrack Obama, Celebrities, ect, think we should not only still vote, but vote for Hillary Clinton—-because she’s the more reasonable one. “This is not the time for a protest vote, in terms of a presidential campaign,” Sanders once said. “I ran as a third-party candidate. I’m the longest-serving independent in the history of the United States Congress. I know more about third-party politics than anyone else in the Congress, okay?…..This is the time to elect Hillary Clinton and then work after the election to mobilize millions of people to make sure she can be the most progressive president she can be.”
If Bernie doesn’t think that this is the time to do a protest vote, then, I wonder, when does he think that perfect time will come? And I know Bernie means well, but I’m a little confused to why he would suggest that somehow electing Hillary will change the politics of “business as usual?” For those who have yet to drink the Hillary Kool-aid, this is the perfect time to protest vote. We have too many issues on the line that are slated to not only affect a few of us but all Americans. Issues like Climate Change, Black Lives Matter, Immigration, Terrorism (foreign and domestic), etc, and what we’re looking for is someone who has the conscious to really do right by these issues. And unfortunately, as we survey the political landscape, we see that neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump are fit for the job. Yet despite that, some people are still bent on selecting Hillary; “It’s not that she’s the *lesser* evil, though she is;” said Jesse Myerson, a New York-based activist, and writer, “It’s that she’s the *more strategically useful* evil.” Be that as it may, what people just aren’t getting is that Americans are tired of the politics of lesser evilism. Yes, we are aware that Hillary is the better option but we don’t want her. That is why majority of us are planning on sitting this one out.
But what if, instead of not voting, we actually do vote but do it in a democratically progressive way? What I am going to suggest is not new but, if done right, can dramatically swing the election to such an extent that it actually might start to work in our favor. One of the benefits of being in a democratic society is, that, voters are equipped with a kind of endless political repertoire, that enables them to not only be heard in many different ways, but to also shape and mold the society in the way that they think is fair and equal to everyone. And one such way that we can make our political landscape more fairer is the exercise of our spoilt vote.
The spoilt vote is when a voter intentionally either does three things to his/her ballot—-one; not voting at all, two; voting for more than one candidate, and three; damaging the ballot so that it cannot be counted by a machine. And what’s so interesting about the spoilt vote is that if enough people do it; not only will it be counted as a form of voting, but the media, the public, and the two dominant parties will eventually demand to know why we decided to spoilt our votes. And the moment when they decide to know why, will not only be the most important moment to us voters, but it will also be the most important moment to society and to the name of democracy. Real change, I believe, can only come when we are strategic with our voting power—-not wasting it by being passive and apathetic.
If you’re considering spoilting your vote, it is important that you are consistent and intentful. Simply marking your ballot blank or damaging your ballot while thousands of other people are doing something totally different is not an effective strategy. To demonstrate the importance of unity and consistency, allow me to draw your attention to exhibit A; the United Kindom. Back in two-thousand-and-ten, they had three candidates running to be the next prime minister; David Cameron, Gordon Brown, and Nick Clegg. But the majority of the voters did not like those candidates so over two-hundred-and-ninety-five-thousand people spoilted their votes while sixteen million people did not vote at all. And what do you think happened? Although he resigned back in July after the UK decided to leave the European Union, David Cameron ended up winning the general election.
The moral of the story is that what we all must do is vote in the same way. Everyone has to decide to vote blank or write in “all the above” in order for our spoilt votes to be legitimately recognized. We cannot have one group spoilting and the other group not voting at all. If we do not unite come election day, we can kiss our chances of creating some kind of meaningful change, goodbye. And by the way, the spoilt vote should not be confused with protest voting or absentee voting. Because of the fact that a protest vote, although similar in nature, breeds what writer Edgar Allan Poe called a “Settled apathy,” or an indifference towards politics in general. And the absentee vote, again, similar on the surface, but yet below the surface, is insanely ineffective and completely misdirectional. Spoilt voting—-that is if everyone spoilts their votes in the same fashion—-is dramatically different because we’re still exercising our rights to vote but with purpose and focus.