- Brooks Applegate
Expel the Farquaads: A Call to Action and a Tut-Tut at Voter Apathy
In 2001 Dreamworks released the animated movie Shrek. In the movie, our title character, Shrek, and his loveable sidekick, Donkey, go up against the Napoleonic and narcissistic Lord Farquaad. Details aside, Lord Farquaad’s attitude can be summed up nicely in a single line from the film. The line has since become a meme and an all too real stance for politicians.
The Lord Farquaads of the world permeate every level of Government. In my small town of Bonita Springs, Councilwoman Laura Carr stated in an April 15th City Council Meeting, in a plea to open up the economy, that “It’s sad, but people die everyday.” A justification that can be used for anything from mainlining heroin into one’s eyeballs or letting a toddler run with a kitchen knife.
Similarly, Texas’ Lt. Governor Dan Patrick faced criticisms after his comments on Fox News. Lt. Gov. Patrick suggested that senior citizens would be willing to die in order to save the “America that all America loves.” The Farquaadisms extend to even the highest reaches of our government. The President of the United States at his recent rally in Tulsa stated, “when you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people, you’re going to find more cases. So I said to my people, slow the testing down please.” The President is willing to slow down testing so that his administration's bungling of the Covid-19 response looks slightly better. This is a crime against humanity.
The above examples are all right leaning folks (to say the very least about their attitudes and positions), but the Farquaad’s are not hindered by party lines. In a live stream on June 26th, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, a Democrat, doxxed BLM protestors. Doxing is a process of revealing someone’s name and addresses online to the public. Generally, doxxing is done to expose the political beliefs and stances of people so that they will face backlash in their workplace in the form of firing, harassment and threats online or in person, and in some cases even physical violence. It is also illegal.
These examples are only the most current in a long historical tradition of discrimination and abuse of power in United States politics.
Why, then, do we continue to vote for Farquaads?
The answer is complicated. And while the reason for electing a person who is set against one’s own interests is multifaceted and nuanced pie, I’d like to turn to a single slice, namely apathy. Specifically voter apathy, the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer wrote in The World as Will and Representation, “ A man can do what he wants, but not want what he wants.” In other words, human beings can vote and for whom they choose, but a human being cannot vote if they possess no desire, or “want,” to vote.
Collectively, we continue to vote for those who don’t have our interests and safety at heart. By safety, I mean multifaceted policies, decisions, and programs that promote the physical well-being and socio-economic betterment of all peoples. Whether that be environmental security in the forms of environmental policies that seek to protect rather than strip and further pollute the earth; economic security in the form of a well-paying job and a workplace free of tyranny and racism; racial justice in the forms of reforming a broken criminal justice system and reparations for black and indigenous peoples; and sexual and reproductive justice allowing women and the LGBTQ+ community access to birth control, healthcare, and equal workplace status. The list goes on, but the reason I’ve listed all of these things is to show you the importance behind the act of voting. Voting directly affects everyone.
Continued nay-sayers may say, “My vote doesn’t count” or, “The elections are rigged for the powerful and the wealthy.” And they are correct. In a study conducted by Thomas Ferguson, Paul Jorgensen, and Jie Chen for the Institute for New Economic Thought, they found that the single largest factor that contributed to the success of a campaign was money. In the study's conclusion, the authors state,
“Statistical studies of the subset of public policies that have drawn enough long
term attention from pollsters to permit tests show that ordinary Americans have essentially no influence on public policy when their preferences run counter to those of the rich.”
There is a silver lining to this distressing news: the wealthy wouldn’t be spending so much money to influence elections if our vote didn’t matter. They wield these massive amounts of money to attempt to influence the public. They create giant systems of media conglomerates and employ think-tanks, propaganda campaigns, and marketing strategies to their benefit.
Oftentimes, I’ll come across quotes attributed to Mark Twain or Emma Goldman that can be condensed to this sentiment: if voting mattered they would make it illegal. One does not need to look far for confirmation of this sentiment. In Kentucky's most recent election they closed ninety-five percent of the polls in order to suppress voters. Continually, politicians are coming up with new ways to make voting illegal in every way except an outright declaration and in some cases even then. North Carolina attempted to pass a voter ID law in 2017 but was struck down by the Supreme Court for the targeting of “African-Americans with almost surgical precision.” Voting matters! These powerful leaders both elected and unelected are trying to make it as difficult to vote as possible.
This is why I say tut-tut to voter apathy. Tut-tut, an exclamation of disapproval where one flicks their tongue behind their teeth, is a silly and archaic gesture from Shakespeare's age. It is the perfect response to those stuck thinking that they are still ruled by the divine right of kings and queens.
In Plato’s Republic democracy is labeled as “the tyranny of the majority.” It is meant as an insult, but I quite like it. So, go out and cast your vote. Vote out the Lord Farquaads that plague our political system and endanger our rights and our lives for their benefit.
Remember, we rule ourselves. We are the majority. We are tyranny.