I’ve been asked by many people why I am not voting for the reelection of President Barack Obama, and, by extension, who I do plan on voting for in the November 6, 2012 Presidential election. Let me respond by answering two questions first and foremost: *NO* I do not want Mitt Romney to be president. I am a left wing activist. Republican, conservative, right-wing, and libertarian politics are, in my opinion, wrong-headed and immoral. After a hundred thousand years of human evolution I’d like to think that we have evolved to a point where we have compassion and a sense of right & wrong, and that the state exists for the communal good and if need be to help us all, even (especially) the most downtrodden. As my son and I like to say- “Everyone needs a little, no one needs a lot.” And *NO* I don’t think I am wasting my vote.
Why will I not cast a vote for Barack Obama? Frankly he hasn’t earned it. I voted for Obama in 2008 when the world (certainly many folks on the left) were flush with the ideas of “Hope” and “Change”. I voted for Obama even though I knew that, as a moderate-to-conservative Democrat, he would disappointment on many issues from Day One.
I never imagined how disappointed I would be.
As much as I adhere to a radical left wing politic I am no revolutionary when it comes to voting in the US. It is next to impossible to be too much of a radical and still have some effect on electoral politics in this country. I find that more often than not I am a pragmatic left-wing member of the Democratic Party, more in line with former President Jimmy Carter and his policies (side-note: Carter was considered a southern conservative when he was elected… my how times have changed!). While I will vote when necessary for Democrats I don’t necessarily agree with (i.e. “holding my nose”), I have a principled line that I will not cross. I do not cross that line for Dianne Feinstein. I did not cross that line for Gavin Newsom. And I will not cross that line with Barack Obama.
There are many reasons that folks I know will vote for Obama, but to sum them up, from my perspective they can be divided into two camps: those who think Obama is great, and wholeheartedly support his reelection; and those who think Obama sucks but will vote for him because they think he is the lesser of two evils and they shudder to think what kind of right-wing craziness a Romney administration might bring.
To the former folks, I really don’t have a whole lot to say. If you are still a cheerleader for Obama in spite of his Drug Wars, his militarization of the border, his drone attacks with thousands of people hurt or killed, his lack of transparency, his lack of policies that will economically help the working class and communities of color that voted so heavily in favor of him, his lack of following through with his most progressive promises like comprehensive immigration reform and the closing of Guantanamo Bay, then there isn’t a whole lot I can say that might change your mind.
To the latter, I would just say that though things can and might get worse under a Romney Administration, things are bad already under Obama. And frankly I’m tired of voting based on Fear, of being threatened by the specter of the Republican bogyman that the Democrats put up every four years to scare many of us into voting for them. I’m tired of not voting based on my principles. I want to vote for leaders who I can wholeheartedly support.
The lines Obama has crossed, in my humble opinion:
- the deportation of more than a million struggling immigrants, the great majority of whom are not guilty of any crime save the crime of caring so much for their families and communities that they would trek hundreds/thousands of miles into unknown territory to provide for them.
- drone attacks that kills and maim hundreds if not thousands of victims, with absolutely no due process, the great majority of whom are innocent of any crime, with a few even being US citizens
- financial policies that saved and enriched the banking and auto industries while at the same time leaving hundreds of thousands of homeowners facing a foreclosure crisis
- instead of persecuting Wall Street corruption, tapping in to that market for his staff and advisors on economic issues
- causing more economic inequity than under the Bush Administration
- abandoning unions who supported him in 2008, especially in places like Wisconsin
- using policies that greatly affect the LGBTQ and immigrant communities as political pandering instruments (in the later case keeping DREAM-eligible young people in limbo for 3 years before finally signing an Executive Order that he could have done his second day in office)
- ramping up military spending ($500 billion!), keeping troops in harm’s way, using our military muscle to prop up dictatorships in Egypt and Bahrain (to name a few places), continuing to station hundreds of thousands of troops worldwide, continuing to fund and staff the unwinnable Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (STILL!)
- continuing George Bush’s “War without End” and perpetuating the neo-conservative strategy of striking perceived enemies first, without consulting congress
- continuing to push the failed “War on Drugs”, attacks on medical marijuana facilities, doing nothing to stem a prison population (made up mainly of non-violent drug offenders) and the prison industrial complex that houses more people, at a higher rate of incarceration, than any other country in the world, including such so-called repressive countries as Russia and China
- continuing the rightward corporate shift of the Democratic Party
I imagine that if Obama had turned back the clock on even two or three of these issues I would consider voting for him. I *really* don’t want Mitt Romney to be President. However, there is no reason - NONE - to think that Obama’s course of action will change if he were to be elected to a second term. And that is the biggest reason of all to not vote him: I neither agree with many of his policies nor do I believe that his administration represents the right direction our country should be headed and that it is, in fact, a continuation of the deeply wrong direction our country has been headed in for far too long.
If Obama loses on Tuesday it will be because of the wrong direction that he and the leadership of the Democratic Party have been taking us and our country.
That is why I’ve decided to vote for someone whose platform incredibly aligns with my ideas and principles and who is on enough ballots to be elected President of the United States- Green Party nominee Dr. Jill Stein (www.jillstein.org)
Suffice to say, our country has been on a rightward leaning path since at least the 50s… with a few hiccups here and there. While we have become more socially progressive in many areas, economically and militarily we continue to be backwards and belligerent. Do I think my one vote against the machine will significantly change this path? No, I’m not delusional. But there are many hundreds of thousands of people who are just as dissatisfied with the current state of politics of our country, and who are demanding more accountability from our leaders.
I am being strategic in NOT voting for Obama. I want the numbers crunchers to note that there was one less Democrat who voted for Obama. Ultimately, what I hope my vote, along with thousands of others, will lead to, and what I think would be best for this country, is if either the core of the Democratic Party- unions, the working class, folks of color, immigrants, social progressives- get tired of the corporatist shift in policies and practices of the current Democratic Party leadership and kick them out *OR* major progressive leaders in the Democratic Party finally get fed up and leave en mass, with the support of the rank and file, to form a new third party. Though I will vote third party this year, I have no illusions that the current offerings out there (the Green Party, for instance) do a horrible job speaking to the everyday issues of folks of color and working class folks.
Hopefully we can see something similar than what took place in the late 80s/early 90s with the rise of the Partido de la Revolución Democrática, who broke away from the old, stale, autocratic and authoritarian Partido Revolucionario Institucional.
Will this happen overnight? Of course not. As my good friend once told me about the addiction he battled- when you walk for years into the forest, you can’t just turn around and walk out in one. This will take time and a lot of hard work. But as every journey needs a first step to begin, so too do we need to make a first move that will signify that we are no longer susceptible to the politics of fear, to the politics of threats, to the politics of “the lesser of two evils.”
Our vote, our voice is sacred, and we should use it wisely, with short and long term goals in mind. This country is a disparate, chaotic mess of parts barely held together by the vices of militarism, addiction, repetition, isolation, greed, selfishness, and disbelief… that another world is possible. However we are more, much more than this. Hurricane Sandy proved to the world that no matter if we act or not, change a come. The hurricane also showed our resilience and ability to come together in time times of need and crisis. Better to help be the hammer that helps shape this change for the benefit of the great majority of us… here in the US and throughout the world.
Social justice, social equity, and peace. That’s my baseline, and that’s why I am not voting for the reelection of President Barack Obama.