Sultana Khan

In the wake of both Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s heroic testimony and Sen. Susan Collins’s abhorrent cowardice, I’ve seen much of the same old rhetoric on the interwebs. Calls for men to round up their misogynist friends, suggestions for women to co-opt the anthem protest, pleading statuses asking friends to call their elected officials, deeply personal essays on relevant issues, and, of course, exhortations for fellow progressives to vote.

Voting won’t save us.

Voting is important, and this column isn’t meant to dissuade people from knocking on doors to register their neighbors for Election Day. Voting and civic engagement are the cornerstones of democracy, and I encourage you to offer meaningful help to your neighbors and community members who might not have access to the same voting privileges — offer to babysit, provide transportation, translate documents, etc. Do whatever you can to help flip the majority back to blue so we can pull the e-brake on this cataclysmic backslide into the dark ages. Show the hell up.

Just don’t forget the Democrats are a fucking mess. Voting blue doesn’t mean you’ve chosen the right side, it just means you’ve chosen the side less likely to publicly endorse rapists and racists. And in a rural, white, isolated state like Maine, our progressive politicians are a constant disappointment for those hoping to cement inclusive values — our gubernatorial candidate, Attorney General Janet Mills, has been involved in ongoing litigation that undermines the sovereign rights of indigenous peoples not only in Maine, but also in Washington state. Progressive values call specifically for elevation of the rights of the smallest marginalized communities — abandoning our principles in favor of the lesser of two political evils is how we’ve arrived at the juncture at which we currently find ourselves.

Even if we had perfect progressive candidates for every election, however, America is a deeply toxic and broken country. It is a lovingly buffed apple infested with mealworms.

Voting within a system that was created to uphold white supremacy and patriarchy isn’t going to change the societal fissures that not only allow but encourage a sitting president to mock a sexual assault survivor or a reporter with a joint condition that limits mobility in front of rabid crowds. Voting secures rights for some, but the system is still broken. And it does not fix the fundamentally racist, sexist, homophobic, and ableist beliefs held by our fellow citizens walking around in those truly hideous MAGA hats. Red used to be my favorite color, you jerks!

So yes, vote. But keep in mind that in 2008, voter mobilization gave us our first black president — and now we’re here. Voting, in its current presentation as the savior of all that is just, is a false peak for those too exhausted and demoralized to keep working toward shifting societal norms. We know in our hearts, this fight is simply beginning, that it may never end. We can never go back to the way it used to be.

And we shouldn’t. We should be always be waist deep in our country’s garbage political scene — let go of the privilege of ambivalence and do more than vote. Run for office! Host town halls! Throw eggs at the gray house near Willard Beach where the guy told me to go back to my country a couple months ago! (Note: I do not endorse egging in any capacity! Especially not in retaliation for that dude Steve’s racist and bigoted treatment of me! FYI toilet paper might be better! Just a thought!)

So yes, please go out and vote next month, but let go of the idea that voting is the panacea we need to fix what ails our country. The pathway to an equitable society through altered public perception seems too long and too hard for our weary hearts, but it’s a path we must travel nonetheless. Reclaim those tiki torches and keep marching.


Sultana Khan is a social justice advocate who works in youth development. Previously, she worked as a national security correspondent and cultural commentator for Gawker Media.

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