My ballot, my bullet
Often when thinking about an issue, or any particular stance regarding it, in order to get my bearings I try to reason what great minds might think. (It seems to always be advantageous to think how Socrates might tear your argument apart so as to guard against trickery both by your own logic against yourself as much as the logic of your aggressor). What would Socrates say? What might Malcolm X say? How might Machiavelli view the situation? In recent days, following the election, I’ve wondered most about Malcolm X. Some view voting as a civil duty, others as an option that does not matter whether or not they use it, but perhaps it is easy to forget that each ballot is power. Is not my ballot – my bullet to the body of those I disagree with, my defense against a government inept – a weapon worth wielding?
In Malcolm X’s Ballot or the Bullet speech, he calls out Lyndon B. Johnson, and says that if he’s really for civil rights then he should declare it himself, especially as leader of the Democratic Party, which is often associated with civil rights. Furthermore, in Malcolm’s Autobiography, he goes on about the lion and the fox: you know the objective of the lion (Republicans) and you know he will eat you, but sometimes the fox (Democrats) can have you half eaten before you even know it…
If you do not use your ballot to defend what you believe in, to defend your rights and your liberties, then they can no longer defend you. That ballot, your bullet, has not been saved – it has been used against you. And while there may never be a candidate or an issue you fully agree with to vote upon, and maybe you will never fully be satisfied with who or what you voted for, and certainly you might feel as though you could have been more informed or made a better decision sometimes, but through education, learning to become critical thinkers, and the ability to develop a good eye, can make you a deadly sharpshooter with every scarce ballot you have been given.
This country has always been a partisan one; just see how Jefferson battled the Federalists during the French Revolution, which he supported even as it began to bloody, or how John Adams had to fight off even his own war hawk Ultra Federalist party members in order to avoid war with France. What can be sure is that our political ground is a battleground, though unlike a video game it is real and friendly fire exists. Perhaps it pays to be armed with ballots – our bullets.
On a more fun note, Van Halen does a song called “Ballot or the Bullet” from their most forgotten album with their third singer. Maybe the song and the lyrics give you an anthem.