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Study Hall: ‘Will Not Voting in 2024 Unravel U.S. Democracy?’

On a related note, I feel very conflicted about the 2024 election. I’ve seen a lot of people expressing that they will not vote for Biden again after his unwavering support of Israel and I’m having a hard time coming to terms with it myself.

But I feel like if I don’t, then any progress we’ve made is going to be set back. I feel like democracy itself is at risk. Do you have any advice? 

Truthfully, I’ve found myself in the same conundrum. Every time I find myself confident in my resolve to either vote or abstain, I end up devil’s advocating the other side. Luckily for both of us, there’s still time to make that final decision and for Biden and his ilk to course correct. 

But before moving forward, I must acknowledge the immense privilege of contemplating whether to vote. It suggests I have nothing to lose either way. While the reversal of Roe v. Wade hasaffected me and has altered the way I navigate the world and technology, abortion access and reproductive care are still within reach for me. The same cannot be said for others. And that impact level will fluctuate depending on the particular issue and one’s relationship to it. So, that must be acknowledged and put into perspective whenever we discuss the decision to vote.  

In that same vein, democracy has always been at risk, if not absent, for many people in the States and those outside who are impacted by this country’s policies and military. If anything, democracy is more so at risk for those of us who have always had it. For those of us who have never had to worry about: when our next meal will be, if we or a loved one will make it back home safely, seeking asylum, access to clean, drinkable water, had to pick between going to the doctor and buying medication or paying bills, or bombs and drone strikes. Even the basic component of a democracy, the right to vote, isn’t guaranteed here.  

The current pool of candidates isn’t working to ensure democracy is felt by all of us. Instead, they are invested in maintaining the status quo to where you and I—but truthfully, those who look like them—can comfortably exist. And you’ll need to ask yourself, is that enough? 

What obligation do I have to those around me and overseas? What issues or groups of people am I indifferent about? And how does this indifference impact others and shape the systems around me, including the issues I’m deeply invested in? What am I willing to excuse and ignore for my comfort and what I care about? What has led up to this moment? Can a politician or government represent the people while minimizing, benefiting, and supporting the murder, subjugation, and oppression of another?

Deciding whether or not to vote should not be taken lightly, nor should our voting power. Our vote—whether it influences election results—signals what we believe and what we support. And our interest shouldn’t just reside on what affects us individually but what affects all of us across the globe.

I’d like to pull one word from your question that caught my eye: unwavering. Democrat candidates and elected officials have received our unwavering support across local, state, and presidential elections for quite some time, often just because they’re blue. The same is probably true for Republican or Independent voters. Still, no politician or government should have our unwavering support and allegiance, regardless of our shared party affiliation. We should want more from our elected officials, whether we voted for them or their opponents. We deserve more than lip service and empty campaign promises and threats that things will be worse with the other party. Democrats have been able to coast by with that last statement for way too long, just to carry out the same policies they condemned the other party for or try to appease us with smaller wins. If we were truly the democracy we pride ourselves to be, we wouldn’t be watching our elected officials use our tax money to fund the indiscriminate bombing and ethnic cleansing of a people after being told there’s no money for healthcare for all, student debt relief, etc., but especially when the majority of the populace demands a ceasefire.

Our elected officials should always lean towards what is right and just and listen to the needs and demands of their constituents, not just leading up to an election or during polling. If not, they do not deserve our support, only our dissent and anger. 

So let’s use this time before the 2024 election, and every subsequent election, to pressure every single elected official and prospective candidate to guarantee—in paper and in practice—our human rights and dignity. Our support is conditional to our needs and rights being met. We must incessantly voice our dissent, leverage our votes, and let it be known that the human rights of all people are non-negotiable. 

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