The Reluctant Voter: How the Election of 2016 illustrates Larger problems of White Supremacy, Inequity and Imperialism

From @brownmountaingirl’s Instagram
From @brownmountaingirl’s Instagram

This year’s election cycle has seemed like it has been in process forever, and for many of us, it has! As election day approached, I found myself deeply reluctant to vote for president. Don’t get me wrong! My reluctance was not because I thought that either presidential candidate was a better choice than the other; my reluctance was generated at the larger problems of white supremacy, inequities, and imperialism. And, a vote against Trump doesn’t make Clinton a necessarily acceptable candidate. As I mined my anxiety and reluctance, I was able to identify that if Clinton wins the presidency, we will be living into a presidential dynasty that is deeply fueled by US imperialism. Let me explain.

Dynasties happen when there is an overlap of people or families who hold power. The Kennedys were a dynasties; the Bushes, and others. We have direct experience of a presidential dynasty in the Bush presidential dynasty, and we have seen this in the Clinton dynasty that has materialized in multiple ways. For example, Clinton as Secretary of State was a strategic plan for Obama, so that Hillary Clinton could develop relationships with world leaders, in order for world leaders to trust in the US empire that would further solidify our US allies and cement Clinton as a viable presidential option. Politics is a game of chess that is often played blindfolded. Those who manage the chess board are those with racial supremacy, economic supremacy, and often male supremacy. All of these dynamics feed into a dynasty effect.

Another piece of my reluctance was the fact that what we have in front of us is another fold of US imperialism. Many of the folks I have spoken with are quite excited to vote for Hillary Clinton, largely because she is a woman (& secondly because they don’t want Trump to hold office), but there is no acknowledgment to the complexities of electing Hillary Clinton. For those of us who are desperately trying to live a life that is opposed to US imperialism and global capitalism, we must acknowledge that a vote for Clinton is not a vote against US imperialism; the empire will continue to dominate on a planetary scale. And yet, I am aware that imperialism is not the Clintons, themselves; they don’t posses it. Imperialism possesses them; they are conscripts operating within a system they truly believe in. Given this reality—that we cannot escape the conscripts of modernity that are expressed as conscripts of imperialism, we must ask the questions that ethics demands of us: what ought we do!?

As I agonized over four (4) ballots here in California ranging from national to local races, my reluctance to vote shifted into a deeper, more sustained analysis. I think there are two things going on here: there is this election right now of white supremacy and white feminism, and there is the need for an ideological shift away from imperialist dominance. Can Hillary Clinton provide that shift? To ask a similar question: Does Obama’s presidency alleviate the racism in politics? Of course not! Neither will Clinton’s presidency assuage the sexism that is inherent in today’s world. And, yet! We still need to commit to turning away and repenting from imperialist dominance. I don’t expect Hillary Clinton to be anti-imperialist or anti-capitalist; that’s not her work to do! What I do expect is for those who hold the power of racial supremacy to help those who are pushed to the edge of existence and endure the greatest impact of multi-system oppressions that fuel the interests of US imperialism. This is what will make a lasting change and help unhinge us all from the dogma of US imperialism.

My own commitment as a mixed-raced nonbinary Transgender Latinx is to live into the reality of nepantla, whatever the election results are. Nepantla is a Nahuatl term meaning ‘middle’ or ‘in between.’ Nepantla illustrates the capacity for people to hold multiple, often-contradictory positions; it is an ability to be a threshold person. And, in today’s world where we have both white supremacy and white feminism running for president, it is important to engage in the slow work of becoming a nepantlera.

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