Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Protesting is good, but going to the polls is too

The Daily Show would have loved the sign I saw the other day, now that the mocking of the Occupy movement is in full force.

Jon Stewart's daily dish recently had a go at New York protesters for being bizarrely dressed, generally slackerish and given to wanton dancing. CNN's Erin Burnett went the superior sorority girl route, smugly pointing to one oddly costumed participant as only, "that."

Still, under that smug are good questions about a gone-global movement surely making the 1 percent a little nervous over their nightly cognacs. Who exactly is it occupying streets from New York to Seattle? What do they want? And do they even vote?

When I hit our own Occupy Tampa camp to ask, what do I see but a guy with a sign in red letters that says: TOFU IS MURDER!

And … um … okay.

Even the other Occupiers were scratching their heads at that. They had signs more down with the financial inequality theme: STOP CAPITALIZING. PEOPLE NOT PROFITS. And the all-important reminder: WE'RE STILL HERE.

The group united against corporate greed and bought-and-sold government is more tattoos than ties, a few bare feet, a couple of homeless and one mohawked guy with duct tape on his mouth whom the TV cameras can't seem to get enough of. The crowd, on this rainy day down to about a dozen, turns out to be made up of both voters and those who say they are too disillusioned.

On the curb I meet two women in their 50s, morning walking partners who "solve the political problems" and "save the world in a 5-mile walk." Barb Sherry — here with Karen Joseph, a STRENGTH IN UNITY sign and an American flag — says the young people she's met are "good-hearted." But as someone who hasn't missed a chance to cast a ballot, what does she think of people who say they don't vote because it doesn't seem to matter?

"I have a lot of sympathy for them because I think there's a lot of truth in their feelings," she says. "But I feel like if we give up the good fight. … "

A DJ named John Thomas tells me he hasn't voted in years because he can't see a difference in the candidates. Kevin Flynn, a soft-spoken Army vet, doesn't trust the system to turn out someone who represents the people, so he does this, trying "to indirectly affect change."

That disillusionment is something I hear a lot lately from young people I know who didn't see the big change they hoped for the last time around. Why should I vote if it doesn't rock the world? And you can't say "because it can" enough.

I also meet Pepe "Slamdunk" Kovanis, a 30-year-old organic gardener who voted for Obama and will vote again in 2012, "absolutely." Shane Ali, a freelance videographer out there in a Bob Marley T-shirt, has already filed to run for state representative.

There's Alicia Dion, a 24-year-old University of Florida grad in a Glee shirt who says she couldn't afford law school (too bad, because she sure can argue her case on, say, the absurdity of homeless on our streets as foreclosed houses sit empty). She votes and "tried to get as many people to vote as I possibly could."

I do applaud a good protest, particularly one to unnerve the powerful. But not voting, not adding your voice there, too, might be the surest way to stay among the mocked rather than the ones politicians actually listen to.

Protesting is good, but going to the polls is too 10/20/11 [Last modified: Thursday, October 20, 2011 7:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Chasing 125: Bucs hope to hit rushing goal more often


    Ever so often, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter pulls back the curtain a bit and shares some of the stats that matter to him most as a coach.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017.
  2. Two Boca Ciega students arrested on charges they brought gun to high school football game


    PINELLAS PARK — Two Boca Ciega High School students were arrested for having a loaded semi-automatic handgun with them at a Friday night football game at Pinellas Park High School.

    Two Boca Ciega High School students were arrested for bringing a weapon on school property on Friday night at a high school football game at Pinellas Park High School.
  3. Bucs-Jaguars was NFL's lowest-rated ESPN game since 2005


    It is just the preseason, and it is the Jaguars, but Thursday night's Bucs-Jags preseason game earned a 1.6 rating on ESPN, which is the lowest-rated preseason game (excluding NFL Network) in 12 years, according to Sports Media Watch.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, left, talks with coach Dirk Koetter during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
  4. Crash at U.S. 19 in Pinellas Park kills one, shuts down traffic


    PINELLAS PARK — A man is dead after a crash between two cars at the intersection of U.S. Highway 19 and 70th Avenue N just after 7 a.m. Saturday.

    Pinellas Park police are investigating the death of a man during a crash on U.S. 19 early Saturday. (Pinellas Park police)
  5. Tropics watch: The latest on Harvey and what systems could hit Florida


    While Eastern and Central America monitor the progress of Tropical Storm Harvey, two tropical disturbances are moving through the Atlantic.