I’ve been having an ongoing discussion with a friend about a candidate he thinks I should vote for. While I disagree with many of this candidate’s stances on certain issues, and agree with him on some other issues, I find myself defaulting to the argument that, really, whether this candidate wins the presidency or not (and it’s highly unlikely that he will) it really won’t matter. Ultimately, I’ve come to believe that voting doesn’t matter.

Trust me. I want to believe. And I know you do, too. And I certainly won’t attempt to dissuade you from voting. But ever since I voted for Ralph Nader. Twice. And had to endure the endless accusations that my vote for the candidate I sincerely felt most aligned with was a complete and utter waste and, essentially, a sabotage of all things American…I’ve been somewhat disillusioned. If voting on principle is a subversive act, doesn’t that make voting itself subversive?

I’ve always been of the opinion that voting is only part of the equation. That once politicians are voted into office, it’s our duty to hold them accountable for the promises they have made. However, what actually happens is that politicians get into office and are only accountable to the corporations that fund their next campaign. And while certainly in recent times, with the Citizens United ruling, the effects of a corporate stranglehold on our political process has become more visible, we really can’t pretend that this hasn’t been the standard all along. We are the complacent cowards, and religion is no longer the opiate of the masses – consumerism is.

And, to some extent, voting is. Which is why I felt a not-so-vague discomfort today at the Texas War On Women rally, as women from all over the state gathered to celebrate our power, and attempt to rev up a “movement” that has long since died. Every. Single. Speaker. urged the crowd of 1500 or so to vote! vote! vote! and countless canvassers roamed the crowd to beg support for one candidate or other who honest to god would then themselves vote! vote! vote! for women to regain the rights that have been slowly usurped by those who wish for us to remain enslaved by our reproductive organs.

I wanted to SCREAM – VOTING WON’T SAVE YOUR UTERUS! But by the time I had figured out why I was not feeling energized by such a large and vocal crowd, people were already dispersing for home, having fulfilled their quota of political activism by gathering in front of the capitol for two hours, listening to speeches, signing a dozen or so petitions, and listening to watered-down pop tunes that vaguely expressed the power of women in a not-too-terribly scary or offensive manner.

Thankfully, there were 30 or 40 of us in the crowd who were equally disenchanted with the whole thing and actually wanted to bring our concerns to the street. We all met out in front of those vaunted metal gates and took the streets, our voices but a shadow of the thousands who cheered for voting and asking for permission to change things. I know it’s not ladylike to be angry, but I was pissed. What’s the point of enfranchisement when we are all so disenfranchised? Our energy is so easily funneled into the institution of elections, where we are forced to choose the lesser of two evils and hope to Hell our consumer demographic is compelling enough for the corporations to invest in the legislation we desire. FUCK THAT SHIT! FUCK IT. Ladies, I don’t vote with my uterus – I FIGHT with it, and my feet and my fists and my heart and my soul and my MOTHERFUCKING BRAIN as I work with my brothers and sisters to create a new system within the old system.

Voting is a tool used by the ruling class to pacify us. To make us feel like we can make a difference with minimal effort and thought. Which is why there were no riot cops out today. There was no excessive amount of police patrolling the Capitol. They understood it was all ok, because we were playing by the rules of those in power. We were safely aligned with the system today. We weren’t challenging things. We were abiding by their rules in their space so they could say “Look – you had your freedom. We allowed you to gather and speak, because you used the language we want you to use.”

Never in the 6 months since I became actively involved in the occupy movement have I more fully understood the power of actually occupying space without asking permission, without inviting politicians, and without what is commonly referred to as a “list of demands” but is actually code for “a candidate to vote for, or an issue we can beg our elected officials to support.” And never have I been more thankful for the small but devoted group who straggled into the streets after the rally and shouted echoed, familiar refrains as we marched to our home at City Hall – where we gathered to practice real, participatory democracy in which every one of us has a voice, and every decision presents a real choice.

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