Faces of Open Primaries: When I refuse to affiliate, I have no voice - Open Primaries
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Faces of Open Primaries

Posted by on July 24, 2015 at 10:37 AM

When I refuse to affiliate, I have no voice

megan_headshot_small.jpgAfter a short melody of mouse clicks my transformation is complete. Now the state of Colorado thinks I'm a Democrat, but my loyalty is a ruse.  Despite my ease, this trick required sacrifice.  I had to swallow my ideological pride, disown my integrity, and align myself with an organization I neither trust nor respect. 

In exchange I may vote for my candidate in the primaries; through a single dishonest act, I am permitted to engage in our democracy.

When I refuse to affiliate I have no voice.  Come election day, the bipartisan system has already selected a disappointing pair of hopefuls to choose between. 

I am offered a mere catch-22, a false dichotomy that masquerades as agency.  Faced with such meager and insulting options, feigning affiliation to vote in the primaries becomes a morally sound choice.  A lie for a lie.  I hope my deception helps remedy the inherent dishonesty in our elections, and the irony of that dream is not lost on me.

I don't buy into the narrative that us Millennials are apathetic.  Far be it for me to speak on behalf of a generation, but whoever told that tale spoke out of turn.  It seems to me that we are, perhaps, weary: weary of participating in a rigged system, weary of repeating the mistakes of our parents and grandparents, weary of how we construct our identities (which is surely influenced by the parties we affiliate with, both political and otherwise). 

Our weariness is characterized by skeptical dissatisfaction.  I think it's safe to say that we care deeply, but for many of us the irony of lying to achieve a more honest system is too unpalatable.  We need nonpartisan, open primaries because healthier elections should not be achieved through lies.

I have often heard the mantra, "Vote for the lesser of the two evils," and I suppose it's true.  At least, that has been my only recourse in every election I've participated in.  Walking into the voting booth with that attitude, no wonder I feel weary.  My lie is an attempt to change my disposition on election day. 

I want to stride into that booth, head held high and shoulders squared, with a joyous pride welling in my chest because I am about to cast a vote for a candidate that I believe in.  I want to step out of that booth elated with patriotism and gratitude that in America we engage in a healthy democracy.  But I have never felt that way -- not yet.

Megan Gafford is an artist from Boulder, CO

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published this page in Blog 2015-07-24 10:37:53 -0400