An Extraordinary EpisodeNovember 2, 2010 Leave a comment
Vote Today! It does matter. But you probably already knew that. I’m down on the state these days. And I don’t mean Massachusetts. I mean “the state,” the dominant organizing structure for human affairs. But I still think we should vote – wield some of the influence we have.
When I was more into “the state,” I was really influenced by Roberto Mangabeira Unger, the Brazilian intellectual who authored “Democracy Realized.” He is fond of saying that “democracy cannot be reduced to the extraordinary episode of the vote.” If you are what campaign strategists call a “super voter,” like I am, then you vote twice a year every year. You don’t miss an election at any level of government and you always participate on primaries – even if your vote is blank, you show up.
Still, twice a year every year is rather extraordinary – it doesn’t happen very often. Democracy cannot be reduced to an event, the responsibility of governing ourselves, the work of making the tough choices that define how society evolves – this is a way of life, it is not something we can outsource.
When we look at it from this perspective, then it becomes easier to vote, check-in, give politicians a sense of what we want and don’t want. But we are not for a second fooled into believing that a vote will set us free. We begin to take responsibility for building our communities, defining and redefining our norms, having conversations that matter, connecting with one another and standing for justice with our very lives.
Vote! By all means vote! But know what you are doing and take a look at how we live.