All these get-out-the-vote efforts are giving me voter fatigue.
I’m not just bored with celebrity activism. It’s enough to make a voter yawn that Amy Schumer used her list of recommended candidates to announce her pregnancy, lifelong-Californian Will Ferrell has been campaigning in the South, and Taylor Swift has posted about voting on her Instagram three times. Now it’s not just celebrities insisting we all vote. It’s our ice cream, our clothes, and our music.
Ben & Jerry’s has been known for its politically themed ice-cream flavors, so it’s probably no surprise that it released “Pecan Resist” just in time for the midterm elections. I’d rather enjoy my chocolate ice cream without my money going to groups fighting one side’s agenda, but maybe that’s just me.
I can ignore ice cream at the grocery store (with a lot of self control, I admit), but now retailers are sending emails just to encourage their customers to vote. I have no problem with businesses spamming my inbox if they’re offering sales, but when Madewell sent me an email last week with no discounts, just “One word: Vote,” I was already over it.
But hey, if I’m in my own home and I’m not checking my email, I should be safe from the constant cycle of voter-turnout fanatics and political doomsdayers. At least I can listen to music.
Last week I woke up and opened Spotify, ready to start the day without thinking of politics, just listening to the melodious voice of George Ezra. But the first thing I saw was this: “Virginia! Midterm elections are coming up on Tuesday, November 6. We made you a playlist of songs uniquely popular in Virginia to take to the polls.”
It took about two seconds to dismiss the suggestion and start the music I wanted to hear, but the reminder was a shocking return to 2018, where everything is political and nothing is safe from politicization.
Maybe that sounds dramatic, but hear me out. I’m not saying voting is bad or that businesses shouldn’t be allowed to incentivize civic involvement in their customers. I’m saying that at some point it all becomes too much. These political agitators should be aware that not all get-out-the-vote efforts are created equal.
Offering discounts to voters, if a federal candidate is on the ballot, is actually illegal. So I guess I can’t fault Madewell for not offering me another 30 percent off. But if businesses try to skirt around this law by simply producing a PSA, they probably do have a particular political party they’d like you to support, which is why offering election-related sales are illegal in the first place. On top of that, high voter turnout typically skews blue, which means the more voters emerge from their couches to the polls on Tuesday, the likelier the “blue wave” becomes.
To take a more charitable view, maybe all these businesses want to do is to say, “Hey, we’re politically conscious. We know there’s a big election coming up, and we’d like to help you be a part of it.” I appreciate the thought, I really do, but I’ve heard it too much. I’ve heard it so much, in fact, that I’m beginning to tune out midterm messaging whenever it comes up.
As soon as Spotify’s voting playlist appeared on my phone, I clicked “dismiss” without thinking. It didn’t even occur to me to listen to the playlist (though now I’m curious what songs are on it). The more we hear about the election, not in the public sphere, but in our own private spaces, the more we’ll be pushed to tune it all out.
I guess all I can do is avoid the internet until after Election Day. I have one comfort, though. Next time I open Spotify, I’ll be jamming to Michael Jackson’s “Leave Me Alone.”