Last week, the day after Hurricane Sandy’s perilous touchdown in the East Coast, the New York Times published an excellent short documentary from Errol Morris titled "11 Excellent Reasons Not to Vote." For registered citizens who have relied on open fire hydrants as a water source for the past six days, a trek to the friendly neighborhood polling place may find itself low on the to-do list come Tuesday. There’s been plenty of speculation as to the extent to which Sandy’s wake will stunt voter turnout, but consider also that Morris’ Op-Doc was filmed long before superstorm-induced indifference washed ashore.
Take the second of Morris’ clever jabs at disillusioned millennials: “Like Jazz, Apathy is an Original American Art Form.” And, like veganism, the right to abstain from the ingestion of political fare is a luxury awarded only to those privileged to have the civic choice to begin with.
Says one of Morris’ young female subjects, squinching her nose at the camera, “I understand the inclination not to vote.”
“No candidate is good. Everyone is telling lies,” continues another.The very fact that this exchange can take place is what makes it so interesting, and Errol captures it brilliantly. That the East Coast has witnessed something historic and terrible, but in the midst of it all, retains access to greater insights on the political workings of this country. That even though the tree-lined sidewalks of the Upper East Side are just as they were on October 28, there are 14-story apartment buildings in Stuyvesant Town, dark and dank, where residents are unable to descend the stairs. It is, all at once, a mix of shame and guilt and gratitude for the way things turned out.
And while there may indeed be good, if not excellent, reasons to not vote, dare any of them trump the most reasonable counter of all?
“It’s not about you, it’s about all of us,” affirms a grinning, thinly mustached co-ed. “Get off Twitter, stop talking to all your friends about how great you are, and go down to vote and just throw your lot into the sea with everyone else.”
In other words, vote. Because you can.