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Why We Fight, Why We Vote, Why We Win

August 10th, 2016
By: Ashley Lukens, PhD, Hawai'i Center for Food Safety Director
Center for Food Safety

On the eve of the Primary Election this Saturday in Hawai‘i, I want to share my thoughts on voting. As someone inspired by anti-colonial work, anarchist activism, and direct action, I understand the need to work outside the system and on the system. As someone frustrated by two-party politics (or, in Hawai‘i’s case, one big fake party), I too want to express my disdain by opting out.

I have read the polls and have voted for long enough to feel a sense of powerlessness, especially when you’re voting for president from a non-swing state. Given that I’m not planning a move to Florida anytime soon (and I’m assuming neither are you), I’d like to offer the following reasons we should add voting to our political repertoire:

We vote because when our children ask us what we're doing today, we can say we're helping pick our president, our representative, our senator, our mayor.

We vote so that our employees, our friends, our family, our students, our communities know that we voted - and that together we create a culture that votes and participates.

We vote because as leaders we must lead by example.

We don't just vote to win. We vote because when we don't, we maintain a world where a few with money and power run our government and our economy.

We vote because local politicians, the one’s we often cannot name and do not know, make choices every day that have a profound impact on our daily lives. They shape the rules that govern large corporations, and how these entities can impact our bodies and our environment. Corporations spend big in local politics because it matters. They know that if they have representatives in government at the state and local level, then the game they play will have rules that work for them.

Though it may feel like the odds are stacked against us, the writing is NEVER totally on the wall. I remember the final days before the vote on Maui County’s GE Moratorium in 2014, when everyone thought Monsanto had it in the bag. I remember those signs that community leaders Lauryn Rego and Alika Atay made that read “$8 million to tell the truth?” I remember losing on the first print out (I was actually on live TV). I remember losing on the second print out.

And I also remember when we won.

Please, everyone - vote. Vote as if our planet depended on it. Vote as if the lives of our friends depended on it. Vote as if our educational system depended on it. If everyone had that attitude, then we wouldn't be fighting the battles we're fighting today.

And then, when you're done voting, realize it’s not enough and organize, advocate, resist, and create.


2016 Primary Election Information:

Voter Registration & Early Walk-in Voting Locations Open until Thursday August 11 at 4 PM

Primary Election Day – Saturday August 13 from 7 AM to 6 PM

Find voter registration and early walk-in locations here.

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