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This is a response to Ethan Vassar’s column, “Why it’s not essential to register to vote.”
I once had a coworker that wore her lack of political agency and her unwillingness to educate herself on important issues like a badge of honor. “I don’t know enough about what’s on a ballot to make a good choice,” she said. I questioned her about this, asking her why, if she knew it was a problem, she didn’t do a little research. “No time,” was her answer.
Now at this point, I had to walk away. This was a woman who easily spent three hours every night on various social media platforms, ogling friends vacations, getting tips on how to meal prep more effectively and watching a random assortment of videos on YouTube.
I had this same desire to walk away while reading Ethan Vasser’s opinions on why he doesn’t vote. I understand where he’s coming from. Well off, White men are over represented. These same people have, historically, been given and kept their rights more easily than any other demographic.
What I find so unforgivable is the sense that it’s on us, those who are marginalized, to pick up the mantle alone and wade through the political and social nightmare that we live in. It is not on him, with all his privilege, to educate himself. It’s not on him to wield his considerable power (in this case his vote) to help those who do not have those opportunities.
To be frank, it shows a lack of empathy and forethought if he feels there is no possible way he can remedy his current predicament or that his voice has no place within the conversation. It does. He needs to stand alongside and in support of others. He needs to stand with voices that are marginalized because his is not.
Right or wrong, the reality is that his voice will go further because of his privilege. This is a world where “not caring” and willful blindness has helped maintain a system where black and brown bodies are literally shot daily for being black and brown. I’m not asking Ethan to change the system. I’m asking him to become active in it by using his vote which is his voice in this world.
Hope Harbert, first-year graduate student
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