The worst reason not to vote is “I don’t live in a presidential swing state.”
As a progressive who lives in Texas, I have heard plenty of times that my vote is unimportant on November 6 because I cannot possibly help re-elect Barack Obama. Texas is simply too red, too conservative for that to be a possibility.
Yet here in Travis County (a little blue oasis in the supposed sea of red), the ballot is so long, so full of state- and local-level elections that it can take 10 full minutes to vote. Voting for president is just 5 seconds of that. Perhaps my most important vote was for my local school board and that vote is *just as* important as the one I cast for Obama.
If the Koch brothers and their ilk have taught us anything in the last decade or two, it is that the political long game is not on the presidential level. The way to seriously change things is to think and vote small. As a Texan, my first thought about how small elections can be huge is the ENORMOUS power that the members of the Texas Board of Education wield in ways that reverberate not just here in Texas but also nationally. When the Texas Board of Education threatened to change textbooks in horrific, anti-intellectual ways, people around the country were shocked – SHOCKED – that these few people had such influence. But that was not surprising to people like the Koch brothers who have funneled tons of money into small, seemingly unimportant races and have now cornered the political market in a series of states. On Twitter, @MollyJolene wrote to me, “They’ve all but turned Kansas into their kingdom. People don’t understand that their state is next on the list. They invested SO much money into our primary-everyone seems bought & paid for.”
John Darnielle (@mountain_goats) argued similarly: “city & county assaults on reproductive justice have quietly gone forward while we slept — we need to proactively promote rights. we need to get on some unglamorous duties. City councils. County boards. Because the other side is -already there-.”
They are ALREADY there.
What can we do at this point? We can vote directly against their financial investment.
You should absolutely NOT believe anyone who tells you that your vote doesn’t matter because you don’t live in a presidential swing state.
UPDATE: @sp0ka just wrote me something that I meant to point out in my post: “Texas has nearly the worst voter turnout rates cos they told you not to vote so you wouldn’t notice their shit & you’ve rolled w/it.” YES! They have created the appearance of inevitably and use that appearance to discourage voters, thus insuring that everything remains completely in their control and it appears that it was all inevitable to begin with, like they said.
Remember: the smaller the election, the more your vote matters. In city-level votes, you can literally cast the deciding vote. THE DECIDING VOTE.
UPDATE #2: @sybbys made this visual representation of this idea: