I just read an article about the Daily Show‘s Jon Stewart apologizing to fans for telling CNN‘s Christiane Amanpour that he did not vote.
CNN’s video is misleadingly titled “John Stewart: Why I’m not voting!”
At first, I was kind of surprised, a little by the fact that Jon Stewart, One of two of the comedians of whom I actually trust getting any political news from, didn’t vote, and mostly by the fact that he was apologizing for it.
I thought “even if he didn’t vote he has no reason to apologize for it. He’s a grown man and isn’t obligated to vote and even if he was joking, he’s a comedian. Why should he apologize for a joke?”
But then I watched a clip of his apology on the Daily Show.
Obviously he explained that it was a joke and that he was “being flip” but still he apologized, “It sent a message that I didn’t think voting was important, it is and I did.” Stewart explained. “I shouldn’t have done that. That was stupid.”
I thought about that and then I understood why his apology matters. I read the comments and I thought about how much of a prominent figure Jon Stewart is and how much he influences young voters. What astonished me was how many people did not realize that he was joking and are against voting.
Every other comment read “voting is an illusion” or “voting is the worst thing you can do” and one man even wrote “No election in the history of elections has ever “changed” anything. So keeping on voting is true insanity.” And I thought how insane that is to think; that not doing anything is making more of a difference than choosing to vote.
Mostly because I’m 23 years old and I’ve never voted.
I used to be like that. I used to believe that voting only existed to preserve the status quo. That there were no real choices in elections so why choose the lesser of two evils?
But not voting is the most pathetically apathetic way you can give up. Not only is it a blatant disrespect to every civil rights movement in US history it maintains inequality by complicating the process of breaking down the currently gendered and racialized hierarchy. Not voting is like Switzerland not getting involved in WWII. Sure, neutrality means that you don’t want to be included in the senseless fighting, but it also means you’re sitting idly by in the face of injustice and an international crisis.
The division of the national working class into “republicans” and “democrats” is sickening and only emphasizes political and economical coercion.
No voting does not show that you are against the republican/democrat dominance of elections, it only shows that you are willing to allow either candidate to continue its dominance.
So in lieu of Jon’s apology for joking about not voting, I’d like to take this moment to apologize for actually not voting.
I want to apologize to everyone fighting to ensure that I still have a right to vote and for fighting voter ID laws.
I want to apologize to immigrant workers, climate scientists, same-sex couples, welfare households, business owners, teachers, and stoners.
I want to especially apologize to women.
I am sorry for not voting. I am sorry for failing to realize my power in making a difference. I am sorry for being Switzerland.
I promise, it won’t happen again next year.