The Radicalism of Suffrage: Why Voting Matters in America

From Harper's Weekly: An example of racially-based intimidation of voters during the Reconstruction period. The caption reads, "Of Course he Wants to Vote the Democratic Ticket." As the party of southern white supremacy following the Civil War, Democrats feared the power of enfranchised, Republican-voting African-Americans. This is because voting symbolizes power and agency.

From Harper’s Weekly: An example of racially based intimidation of voters during the Reconstruction period. The caption reads, “Of Course he Wants to Vote the Democratic Ticket.” As the party of southern white supremacy following the Civil War, Democrats feared the power of enfranchised, Republican-voting African-Americans. This is because voting symbolizes power and agency.

Voting is a radical act. That’s right, you heard me. If you’re one of the roughly fifty, to sixty percent of Americans who actually vote in presidential elections, then you’re a committed radical. If you’re one of the even fewer who vote in off-year midterm elections that decide boring stuff like congressional representation (you know, the stuff that actually matters), then you’re downright revolutionary.

Of course, the idea that voting is radical might seem ridiculous. After all, a good many Americans have, for a long time now, been convinced that their vote simply doesn’t count. They look at a political system that is infested with the wriggling worms of corporate lobbyists and “dark money” special interest peddling, and,¬†understandably conclude that the vote of any individual Joe or Jane Six-Pack won’t make a dent in the system’s corruption-infused force-field.

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