Everything Must Change for Everything to Remain the Same
Is there electoral apathy? Are young people interested in voting? Perhaps the question should be rephrased: Is it worse to vote? Because the impression is that no matter who you vote for, nothing—or very little—changes.
It’s a bipartisan thing: Both political parties work to keep the status quo, a system that’s already showing signs of distress, with only two political parties in power, a tax system that openly favors corporations and the rich, endless subsidies to companies, political impunity, lack of accountability and so much more.
The electoral “apathy,” particularly among youth, is an expression of social satiation by the citizenry toward a status quo that favors only privilege, corruption and impotence to effect change.
Just before the pandemic, I was summoned for jury duty in Fresno. During the selection process for the 12 jurors, we learned about the case I would judge if selected: Walmart was suing a young Black male for robbery.
The case seemed to me offbeat—a company suing a robber? Aren’t the police supposed to take care of such cases? Wouldn’t it be simpler to send the young guy to community service? The robber didn’t get away with the crime as he obviously was caught.
So what else did the company want and why? To me, this was a case of extreme punishment against a powerless person who was already punished by being caught and humiliated in front of dozens of people in court. To me, without a doubt, the company wanted to send a message to society: Don’t touch any of our goodies, or else.
And what did that young guy, with his lost look, rob? Perhaps some merchandise with a value of $100–$300? Less than what the company’s attorney was charging per hour. So, the company wasn’t interested in money but rather punishing the robber, to teach him, and society, a “lesson.” It doesn’t matter if that show of power costs taxpayers thousands of dollars on an insignificant case.
Fortunately, I was excused from being part of the jury. But this experience showed me clearly and loudly the power that certain companies have, the same entities that are favored by wide tax deductions and government subsidies.
Citizens’ power is limited, and politicians are doing their best to limit it even more, particularly in states controlled by Republicans via voter suppression and redistricting to limit the voting potential of minorities.
In the meantime, nothing is really changing for the good. The Senate and the Supreme Court are controlled by Republicans so nothing proposed by Democrats passes, we still have the Electoral College in place and the issue of immigration remains unresolved—where is Kamala Harris, wasn’t she appointed by President Biden to come up with a “solution,” or at least a plan to tackle the issue?
We are back to the cold war, but now instead of the Soviet Union we have two enemies: Russia and China. This allows the powers that be to instill more fear in the population so that people will approve of an already out-of-control military budget. At the same time, little is being done to control climate change and our daily increase in the planet’s temperature, while allowing the oil industry to continue poisoning our air and increasing their profits.
Considering this context, how can we ask young people to vote?