There’s no excuse for apoliticism

Photo by Dani Sisson Student Publications

With Election Day next week, one of the most common ways of being politically active is around the corner. 

Folks of many different political affiliations head out to cast their vote and try to guide the future of the country in the direction they feel is best.

Voting is only one of many ways to be involved in politics, with protesting, donating, canvassing and more offering alternatives to voting.

Having so many ways to contribute to politics, and with this election cycle being critical to the future of the country, there is no excuse for being apolitical. 

Even the ability to consider being apolitical is a privilege, as the assumption that politics will not affect you can only be made by specific, privileged groups.

Issues that affect women, BIPOC folks, LGBTQ+ folks and other marginalized groups are on the ballot every time, and even if one is not a member of any of those groups, they must consider the implications of not supporting those who are.

Saying that you support members of these groups while doing nothing to support them helps very little. 

An oft-heard phrase along the lines of “I don’t care what other people do, as long as it doesn’t affect me” is not the benign, libertarian statement people often think it is. 

That line of thinking preserves the status quo without any action to allow others the freedom the statement implies. 

If the status quo favors marginalized groups, the apolitical person gets to pat themselves on the back in that they are not actively making anyone’s life worse, but they would not make any effort to resist a change that restricts those freedoms they are indifferent about. 

Where the status quo tends more regressive, apolitical people are content to allow for those affected by that status quo to suffer.

Everyone has opinions about at least some issues, and while it is normal to consider some to matter more than others, it is disingenuous to claim to be apolitical while distinctly still having a stake in politics. 

Just “wanting lower taxes” or allusions to just wanting freedom are political statements, but people who say these things often deflect on the basis of being apolitical when questioned on social issues.

Specific issues can highlight the invalidity of being apolitical. Marijuana legalization is one, where the popular stance of legalizing marijuana is still not the status quo in many states. 

To be apolitical means defaulting to imprisoning thousands for victimless crimes, a trend that affects minority communities disproportionately. 

To be “apolitical” while using marijuana yourself means hypocrisy, standing with — or at least not against — the side that favors these Draconian measures.

Politics are certainly not always fun, and the alienation one can feel when choosing between two parties, one ineffective and another working against the best interests of most of the country, is valid. 

Politics is not exclusively about political parties and posturing though: the policy that comes about as a result of voting and donating and protesting is the far more tangible and legitimate concern.

Policy as a whole affects everyone, and being apolitical robs one of their chance to affect policy. 

Knowing one’s views and why they believe them is important, and connecting that to candidates, issues and politics in general is essential to improving one’s stake.

Avoiding apoliticism is important even outside of the immediate election cycle. 

Protesting and donating time or money can continue to affect policy and improve lives. 

While parsing through the muck of political parties and posturing, consider a broader view of politics that centers around policy. 

Participating in politics can improve your stake and that of others. 

Apoliticism both real and feigned is a detriment, especially in the critical time around elections.