On Saturday I participated in a Rap Sessions event held at Pastor Frank Reid's church in Baltimore (Bethel AME)–one of the more activist churches in the region. Marc LaMont Hill, Maya Rockeymore, M-1, Rahiel Tesfarmariam, Rev. Lennox Yearwood also participated. We ended up spending a significant amount of time on an argument attributed to (but not REALLY made by) M-1, who suggested that the vote be considered more of a tactic deployed in local instances than one used in national elections. This conversation is an important one to have, particularly today.
For many folk this is the most important political moment in four years. And after this political moment passes, it'll be another four years before folk gear up again.
One way to think about it, given the venue, is that voting is the equivalent of Easter Sunday. Instead of lapsed Christians who only come to church one Sunday a year, we have lapsed citizens who only engage in voting once per electoral season…and who do little to nothing otherwise. I believe it better to be registered to vote than not, largely because if you aren't registered to vote you can't be a member of a jury pool. But I'm less convinced by historical arguments about what folk died for us to do. And at the national level one vote is simply a drop of water in a very large pool. Now this may sound weird given that I just wrote a piece in favor of the creation of a National Voting Association.
But in as much as that project is really about transforming what the vote means and using that transformation to make a set of larger claims about what government should do, I don't see a contradiction at all. (For what it's worth, I don't think the national election is going to be close. The popular vote may be, but the electoral college will not.)