Turns out people vote differently for different reasons.


I appreciate the zeal with which Sanders has approached this election. I think that people forget that economic inequality was a concept barely allowed in any mainstream news narratives until occupy forced the hand of the producers (with a lot of groundwork laid by people like Sanders who’d been speaking to it for decades). And we can thank progressives, leftists, anarchists and others who fit non-traditional and non-mainstream identities for fighting to make that happen. And so I don’t believe in going, “If you’re going to do this during the election, or vote in this way, or abstain from voting, or whatever, then you are this, or you are not this, or you are that, or you are definitely that.” I don’t believe in doing that because some of the people who aren’t going to vote the way I am going to vote have helped paved the way for politics I believe in, regardless of what we think is best to do in November. We may disagree on tactics, but we likely share a lot of common ground.

And so it’s both discouraging and depressing when I see people say, “Voting for this person is voting for this policy…” Or “Not voting for this person ultimately results in this…” I find it disappointing because it illustrates a frustrating and reductionist tendency on our parts to believe ourselves righteous. And we are not righteous. Some people we look up to, who have fought for a better today—who will keep fighting—who we love and respect—they’ll vote differently than we will because they believe in different approaches. And so when you say, in essence, “Fuck these people for doing this thing,” you’re not only revealing your own tendency toward willful ignorance, you’re dismissing people we should love, revere and respect even though we disagree on tactics. And I’ve said this so many times, and I’ll say it so many more times, but if you’re trying to build a movement, “Fuck you” is not an effective starting point.

Like, if you want to go tell Noam Chomsky he is a hack because he advocates for voting for Clinton in places where Trump could win, or you want to tell Cornel West that he’s an asshole for supporting Sanders, have fun with that but I’m not sure what it’s going to prove to anybody outside of the fact that you are tone deaf as fuck.

I respect my friends who are greens, anarchists, communists, radical, socialists, and even moderate Republicans, even though we might not take the same approach on ensuring Donald Trump does not get into office. I don’t get anything out of saying, “If you don’t do it my way, fuck you.” More than anything else, it’s a masturbatory approach. I vote with more than one policy in mind. I vote with the Supreme Court in mind. I vote, once primaries are behind us, strategically. I vote considering the whole system that we all agree is fucked and screwed and stacked and slanted. I vote considering my brothers and sisters who don’t look like me or identify the same way I do, and are on the receiving end of hell because of it. But that’s only one of many approaches I take to dismantle the things I think are wrong. Election day is one of 364 days for action. But action is a lot more than running your mouth on Facebook, or speaking in platitudes, or throwing your brothers and sisters in solidarity under the bus so you can come off morally pure or superior.

We get it. You’re more radical, or more tactical, or more passionate, or more rational, or whatever. But maybe let’s stop addressing each other in a way that will make us hate each other by the time this fucking disaster of an Election season is over.

Alex Steed

About Alex Steed

Alex Steed has written about and engaged in politics since he was an insufferable teenager. He has run for the Statehouse and produced a successful web series. He now runs a content firm called Knack Factory with two guys who are a lot more talented than himself.