Introduction to TFW Voting Forum

October 23, 2012

Over the course of this election season, TFW has wrestled with the idea of issuing political endorsements. As a Collective, we are committed to a future that makes human flourishing possible. For us, this future is one that depends on radical self-reflexivity, naming the insidious workings of racisms, sexisms, heterosexisms, and nationalisms, alongside acting in our worlds with a politic motivated by our critical analyses.

In many ways as Collective members, we share a vision of a liberatory future, even as we understand the route to that future differently. For example, each one of us comes to the question of electoral politics with a distinct perspective. Likewise, what we are doing in response to the current elections–Presidential and otherwise–ranges widely. Some of these differences are due to citizenship status, geographic location, particular forms of disenfranchisement, and even age. Not all of our Collective members meet legal voting age requirements. Yet, not even those of us amongst the Collective who carry the status US citizen approach the act of voting in the same way and, in fact, we do not collectively agree about who deserves our endorsement.

The “undecided voter” looms as a demographic category operating throughout media coverage and political strategizing. Certain questions persist. Who is the undecided voter? What are core issues are candidates insufficiently addressing? Are undecided voters politically apathetic or systematically disenfranchised? And ultimately, what makes undecided voters, decide?

In the context of elections that are too close to call with any certainty, the category–undecided voter–is so thoroughly interrogated because election results often hinge on those votes. While analyses of those yet decided can tell us something about who is likely to be elected, the focus on being undecided leaves the act of having decided relatively unspoken for.

As those with critiques of politics and economics writ large, it is the case that many of us among the TFW Collective are decided. Yet, some of us might be described as reluctant or vexed voters, as we bring our critical lens to bear on the politics of those candidates deemed “liberal” or “progressive.” Alternately, some of us are choosing not to vote and are investing our energy towards efforts that we believe are more responsive to undermining injustice. Others of us have wrestled with the glaring silences in political discourse and made a certain concessions, choosing to invest in mainstream candidates, while others vigorously support independent parties. All of these approaches to electoral politics are worthy of reflection, we think.

Our purpose is twofold. First, TFW’s mission is explicitly invested in exploring interventions that facilitate well-being and social justice. For many, voting is this kind of intervention. To be sure, not all of us agree, but given how voting operates in so many spaces explicitly oriented around social reform, it is worthy of our collective reflection. Secondly for our readers who are looking for some practical guidance as they sort through their own relationship to voting, we offer this forum for your consideration as you wrestle in these coming weeks.

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