TOMORROW IS SKATERS VOTE DAY
Let's Get Everyone Who Rolls Registered... and Just Everyone In General.
On September 17, 2020, we’re asking (well I am but there are others too) everyone in skateboarding to post something about the importance of voting with the hashtag #skatersvote day. That’s it but if you want to provide links where people can register that’s very nice too.
So do that. Please.
Several skateboarding brands had an awakening this summer when they posted support for BLM on Instagram. There were calls to keep politics out of skateboarding, aggressive “all lives matter” comments, and general trolling and odd Q commenting. This his what the United States is now—a place so polarized and topsy-turvy, that showing support for equal rights becomes a political issue rather than a human one. Brands and skaters quickly learned the reality of having a point-of-view that isn’t shared and it will always elicit negative responses often by people who don’t skateboard or aren’t even real a.k.a. bots.
With that knowledge, several brands have gotten behind Skaters Vote Day understanding that if you tell people to vote a large percentage of people—not just Americans—see that as telling them who to vote for because of how they’ve been programmed by leaders, Facebook groups, conspiracy theories or peers. We can’t change that but we can ignore it and just ask that we all engage in the political process. That process is key and something that’s always on and always evolving. The overarching goal is to educate new and past voters on what they’re actually voting for in every election and not one party or ideology.
Most recently two of skateboarding’s largest brands have supported voting in the 2020 Presidential Election and both got shit for it.
Supreme partnered with When We All Vote, creating sticker and QR code to encourage registration. Of course those ended up on eBay where they average about $20.00 per pack. They also had plenty of toxic comments on the post.
Fucking Awesome has incentivized registration by offering a limited edition T-Shirt to those who are registered. Many of the comments were people upset that they are out of state and couldn’t come to the store to get a shirt, are not of voting age, are felons who can’t vote, or aren’t US citizens but still want the shirt. Others brought up the slogan “Nobody For President,” which was once on an FA shirt in an attempt to “call them out.” This is interesting because it speaks to how literal young people or people, in general, can be. If Jason Dill tells them voting sucks, they listen, so will they now listen en masse if FA and Dill support voting? With a roster with more POC than most teams in skateboarding and who has donated $20,000 to BLM, they are not concerned with taking a side or the repercussions of doing so financially because I assume, they realize it won’t actually impact them. When someone burns their Nikes or a sports jersey, those companies don’t suddenly dip in value and FA’s cool isn’t going to suffer from their core by encouraging skaters to vote. More brands need to do this if it’s part of their DNA or simply something they believe in now, regardless of the past.
Since I started working with Skaters Vote I’ve learned a lot about why people don’t engage in our political process and those reasons range from apathy to anger and there’s a lot of confusion in the mix as well. The thing is, this is how things are engineered in order to try to control the outcomes of elections along with the antiquated-ass Electoral College. The youth vote could swing almost any election but young people often don’t vote—they historically don’t care.
But they should.
In 2016 Arianna Gil of the Brujas told the New York Times the following:
“Skateboarding is a political act,” said Ms. Gil, whose family moved to Washington Heights in 2009 after being priced out of an apartment on the Lower East Side. “It allows us to question private property and reclaim all the spaces in our city that have been rezoned and redeveloped into oblivion.”
More recently, Jill Cowan wrote a piece about how skateboarding can help fight racism for the NYT. In that piece, researcher, lecturer, and co-chair of the CSEF Neftali Williams told the paper “Young skaters are really excited to demonstrate to each other and en masse that they’re important and they want a better world.”
What I have noticed is that young people—especially in a pandemic—have a lot of energy for peaceful protests because the entire act is more energizing than lining up to pencil in some people you probably don’t know much about on a ballot. It’s completely understandable but not following up unrest with votes for local, state, and federal officials who most represent your political views is a misstep. I must emphasize most here as we are still in the infancy of a new progressive political push in the United States but as history has shown us—you know that thing no one cares about—once in motion, change has the potential to move swifter than those blocking it. All the protests in the world backing human rights will be for naught if the Supreme Court is stacked with more conservatives, especially ones that hate such things as gay marriage and equal rights in general.
Protests are essential to democracy but are one part of a larger process. We have to look at the entire way we engage with local and federal government in order to get these systems to reflect who they are actually governing—that’s all, it’s not even a partisan agenda in that sense.
I’ve always seen voting as an always-on process not something that happens every four years that I may or may not care about. Staying engaged in our political process makes the “lesser of two evils” argument seem thin. We had George W. Bush vs. Al Gore, where Gore was often depicted as some “crazy environmentalist” or just “boring.” Many wanted a change due to their disapproval of the Clinton administration and many didn’t vote. This led to the Iraq War. Again, look to the history of that war and it’s implications now… it’s not good or even just.
Many didn’t vote when Mr. Bush was up against John Kerry, who many saw as “wooden” and was disparaged by the Swift Boat Controversy which was later discredited. Kerry was also beaten up because his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry was a wealthy heiress born in Mozambique. She was painted as anti-American and their marriage tooled for political gain. One talking point was that Kerry himself was weak for marrying a woman much wealthier than himself.
Ultimately, instead of either of these officials who—like any politicians—had their flaws, Americans chose eight years of W and the Iraq War based on a completely false narrative. And in 2016 Hillary or “Killary” who many called a “fucking bitch” and or they didn’t want her to be the first female President of the US because (insert sexist reason or comment about being a warmonger.) As I type this, I realize we’ll still be talking about her and how she needs to be in jail in the comments and that’s fine.
It’s 2020 and we’re back to “the lesser of two evils” or “settle for Biden” instead of evaluating what in the actual fuck is going on with the United States of America and thinking about what it looks like under each candidate, their cabinet, policies, and appointments, as well as their accomplishments. It’s nothing short of bizarre.
The left is too concerned with cool whereas Mr. Trump IS cool to the right. He’s an asshole, he doesn’t care about how he looks, he “speaks his mind,” his rich, he has a “trophy wife,” he “drained the swamp,” and he makes them feel better about themselves because he’s flawed but still the leader of the US. He doesn’t need to do anything other than be a prick.
Biden is not remotely cool. He is known for his gaffes, telling corny stories, and odd behavior. So while many oppose Trump, they wouldn’t buy a Shepard Fairey Biden limited print because he doesn’t symbolize cool or progressive thinking and that’s understandable but why is this always about merch? When did the Presidency become a war of T-Shirts not a war of ideas? I get that “settle for Biden” is a way to say, “I am progressive and don’t want Trump so I’m going to add a caveat to my support of Biden which really isn’t support at all” but why post anything at all? If you are hyper progressive it’s obvious that a Biden Presidency is not your dream, so why is there such a need to spread the message “This guy sucks but vote for him”? It’s confusing to young voters and disparages them rather than explaining that he may be a transitional President who lines up a cabinet that reflects progressive views and advances the party. That’s kind of it, right? That part isn’t too fun or cool or attractive. Yes, many are doing exactly that but the existence of cool in politics is just puzzling. We aren’t voting for a fucking best friend or a cool aunt/uncle for fucks sake.
Skaters/Readers, (I had to have some skating in here I guess) it’s obvious I’m a left-leaning person. This is no secret but I ask that you register to vote if you are not and then learn about the process and vote in every election going forward based on how these officials can improve our society. This is what I was taught about the voting process not “what can this candidate do for me?”
Will I get a tax break? Will they protect my guns? Will they protect my body? Will I get free health care?
Take out the “I” and think about “US” both the US and the idea of a community.
“Will the next administration protect us?” Us being all Americans and those who legally seek asylum.
Shortly after President Trump’s victory, Proud Boys founder and VICE co-founder Gavin McGinnes said in a YouTube video, “This must be what it feels like to win the lottery.” McGinnes did win the lottery in 2008 when he left the company due to “creative differences” and was given an undisclosed by considerable severance.
This launched his career as an alt-right pundit—a fella with tattoos, a compass for cool, and plenty of shocking views but still a character, like Steven Colbert once portrayed. Both suck. McGinnis has had to distance himself from the Proud Boys but he leveraged the Trump victory for more monetary gain but what did that actually do? Did Mr. Trump do anything tangible for Mr. McGinnis other than embolden him? He’s not rich-rich, so did he really benefit that much on his taxes? What gain for America was that lottery win? The answer is it was a personal win, just as the lottery is and of course, Gavin McInnes didn’t buy all his relatives something nice or pay off their debt, instead, he continued on with a hate group until, like VICE, he had to distance himself from it.
As reported by OZY, that “lottery” was less about money and more about brand and ideology:
“A former associate of McInnes in Los Angeles who declined to be identified because he didn’t want to get dragged into “all of this” offered a clue. “What people forget is that Gavin comes from money. He’s never been broke and is not broke now,” he told me. “So this is really class war for him. Not race, sex or religion. It’s about his class prerogative to do whatever the fuck he wants.”
None of us are winning the lottery when a winner of the 2020 Presidental election is eventually decided, most likely 3-4 weeks after November 3 because of how polarized not only this entire country is but how fractured the left is but ultimately, each of us needs to make a decision then decide what officials to support in every election.
Like skateboarding, our political process should be about the whole and not the individual—how do we make this entire thing better and then continually improve.
I’m not asking you to vote for anyone, I’m asking you to show your support for the concept of voting to skateboarding and everyone on September 17 to amplify the message that skateboarders are more than a “cool demographic of young edgy tastemakers,” badass thrill-seekers or dumbass Jackasses® who like to pull pranks and wear funny costumes.
And maybe those things do define you and you’d still like to say you vote, that’s cool too.