Staying out of politics is a privilege

Sam Dunaway | News Editor

A few weeks ago, I was driving around with my boyfriend and began thinking about the upcoming midterm elections.

“Have you registered to vote?” I asked him. He didn’t respond.

I asked, “Did you update your current address online?” He replied with a small shrug.

“Are you voting at all?” I inquired.

“I’m just not interested in politics,” he replied. And we left it at that.

If you’re curious, my boyfriend is a white, cis-gender, middle-class male — one of the most privileged groups out there. So, it’s no surprise that he can turn a blind eye to politics because he’s “not interested” or doesn’t “get into politics.”

But, for some people, politics aren’t something that they can brush aside and choose not to participate in. For many, if not all, minority groups, politics govern their lives and well-being. Politics determine whether or not they have to stand in front of a capitol building and ask to stay in a country that they’ve lived in since they were children. Politics govern whether or not they can get married, own a home or get a job, based solely on their sexual preference or gender identity. Politics can dictate if a person’s religion will ban them from their home country and label them as a terrorist. Some individuals don’t get the choice to ignore politics.

It’s easy as a white male — or even for me, as a white female — to not have to worry about politics taking away our rights. So, if you’re a person who is generally not affected by federal and local policies, why should you care about politics?

It’s the same reason that men stand alongside women during the Women’s March, why I witnessed a room nearly full of white, older adults demanding support for DACA recipients at a town hall with Ron Wyden and why individuals living 2,000 miles away showed solidarity for members of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation — to look past your privilege and stand up for those that need it. That support begins with the candidates you choose to represent you and your community.

It’s one thing to be slightly uncomfortable when the name “Trump” comes up at family dinners, but if you’re actively not voting because the outcome of the election wouldn’t affect you, you’re turning away from the minorities in your community that are fighting for their lives because of politics.

It’s a choice not to vote, and not voting is relying on your privilege to protect you. I just hope you consider the people around you who don’t have that luxury.

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