There is nothing radical about refusing to vote. It doesn’t make you a renegade, a rebel or a rabble-rouser. And, if you’re a celebrity sharing your misguided views with millions of young followers — many of whom are eligible to vote for the first time — you’re a disgrace.
If you didn’t already think the stakes are high with Donald Trump just months away from having the nuclear codes, if you’re just not feeling “inspired” by any of the candidates or truly, deeply believe your vote doesn’t matter, Trump’s comments at last night’s debate should raise your level of urgency. And the consequences of Great Britain’s Brexit should be a warning sign of what can happen if we don’t resist Trump at full force.
Nick Cannon, Bow Wow and Meek Mill have all announced that they won’t be voting in the 2016 presidential race, for their own varying reasons. And activists Marc Lamont Hill and Killer Mike have both embraced third party candidates because they do not see Hillary Clinton as a lesser of two evils compared to Donald Trump. If you can’t vote because you’re a felon or an immigrant, this doesn’t apply. But eligible celebrities and citizens who think they are bucking the system by staying home on Election Day are only placing their people at a greater disadvantage.
While disillusionment with the political system — especially if you’re one of the many groups who have been marginalized by it for centuries — is completely understandable, how are these celebrities aren’t as worried about a free world run by Trump as the rest of us? There’s nothing wrong with choosing not to participate for your own reasons, but using your platform to spread cynicism and discourage young voters who are on the fence is not revolutionary — it’s gravely irresponsible.
At least Cannon encouraged participation in local elections. But if he’s wise enough to understand the importance of voting locally, why can’t he see that not voting in the big race will be more of a hindrance than a power move for oppressed citizens?
“A lot of people get up there and argue and debate about Hillary or Donald Trump and then you ask them who their city councilman is, and they say ‘I don’t know’. I think we got to start in the community.” – Nick Cannon
He has a point. But that doesn’t make the national election any less important. The president holds a lot of power; As a global symbol, as a lawmaker and as the leader of the military. But we can’t overlook those points because we’re turned off by the trashy reality show nature of campaign season. “Me personally, I don’t like the pageantry of it, it’s a popularity contest,” said Cannon, the host of a nationally broadcasted popularity pageant.
Meek Mill said he doesn’t think he will ever vote, blaming his distrust of the system on the blatant injustices he sees everyday. But those injustices have been upheld because Blacks were blocked from participating in the political system as it was developed. Claiming ignorance and sitting out is giving into the Jim Crow laws that were created to keep us unequal.
Marc Lamont Hill and Killer Mike’s stands are even more confusing. They claim that supporting Green Party candidate Jill Stein will force change more rapidly, but it will really just tighten the race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Clinton is flawed, but she is sane. Watering down her vote to make a point is not the way to any sustainable amount of power. It will only get a psychopath elected, which could lead to even worse circumstances for underprivileged citizens. In any crisis, you handle the most immediate threat first. You can’t beat cancer if you get hit by a bus. Clinton’s oppression is subtle and has been slowly killing us for years, but it can be defeated without catastrophe. Donald Trump is a bus with no brakes coming full speed at all of us.
You can’t gain anything by boycotting an election. Withholding your vote doesn’t hurt anyone but yourself and your community. Just like on the playground, sitting in the corner and refusing to participate will not stop the game. It will only increase the deficit. And makes our concerns even less of a priority for the general public than they already are. Bill Maher compared sitting out this election because you don’t like either candidate is like responding to the classic “Sophie’s Choice” by choosing to let the Nazi’s take both of your children.
Voter registration closes as early as October 9th in many states. Click here to register.