This election, I seriously considered voting third party due to my opposition to President Obama’s drone strikes, possible forthcoming war with Iran, assault on medical marijuana dispensaries that comply with state laws, mass deportation of immigrants, and failure to prosecute Wall Street criminals. My alternative choice for President was Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson, but I realized that my support for him was based more on frustration I felt towards Obama and less because a protest vote would actually improve the country. Nonetheless, I donated to Anderson’s ballot access initiative and hope to see his party expand its influence.
It’s regrettable that the Democratic Party, with the election of Bill Clinton, chose to discard certain progressive values, most notably a respect for civil liberties and a restrained foreign policy. There are more than a couple Democrats on my ballot that I will not be voting for this year. Even while supporting the President’s re-election, it will be necessary to ceaselessly pressure Democrats to justify their wayward policies. Let’s not forget this is the same party, by and large, that supported a war with Iraq, the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, and the mass imprisonment of young black men in the name of an absurd “war on drugs.” It’s a deeply flawed party, in many respects divorced from the policies and ethics of some its most celebrated members, among them Robert F. Kennedy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the recently deceased George McGovern.
But as far as Democrats go, Obama is superior to Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and every other candidate who ran against him in the 2008 primary. He is a far better President that George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan. Thanks to the Obama administration, we exited Iraq within the time frame promised and will exit Afghanistan in the not-too-distant future. We have a President who shapes public opinion by affirming his support for gay Americans and supports legislation to ensure equality for minorities and women. We have tax cuts for working families, the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, a nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia, the body of Osama bin Laden resting on the ocean floor, the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, the reversal of growing unemployment, and the revitalization of the American automotive industry.
While it is important to have reasons to vote for a candidate, it is also necessary to have reasons to vote against the opposition. Mitt Romney’s mantra of “no apology” aptly describes the kind of insensitive, arrogant administration he would likely preside over. 70% of Romney’s foreign policy advisors served in the Bush-Cheney administration (leading me to believe Romney is either more likely or just as likely to launch an unnecessary war with Iran as Obama) and his economic policies are nearly identical to that same debt-inducing regime. Romney won’t bat an eyelash over union busting or the destruction of the welfare system or the elimination of universal health care or the oppression of gay Americans.
If you want to protect workers’ rights, maintain programs for the poor, expand health care coverage, raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, and withdraw troops from Afghanistan, then a vote for Obama is the only vote that has any hope of actually accomplishing these goals.
There are Americans out there with no jobs and no education and no money and no hope. Vote for them. Vote for the men and women who, until recently, could not serve in the military without denying who they are. Vote for the working class family, routinely denounced as leeching off government assistance, who longs for an America where they can rise to new heights. Vote for the children being raised in communities with failing schools and soaring crime rates who are ignorantly instructed to fend for themselves in a world they are ill-equipped to navigate.
For those who say a vote for Obama would betray their principles, I ask: what principle could be more sacred than the well-being of your fellow citizens?
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