Why I'm Going To Vote Democratic (and not Green)
This post grew out of a comment I made on Tom Cordle's A Liberal Call to Arms.
I am going to vote Democratic in the upcoming election. So much for a secret ballot. I actually agree with the issue stands of the Green Party more, so why am I going to vote Democratic? Three reasons:
1. Voting Democratic does not mean supporting the Democratic agenda after the election, it just means keeping the Republicans out of office. If our first available course of action is, to use another blogger's terminology, to elect Evil in order to keep More Evil out of office, so be it. That doesn't mean we support Evil, it just means we're keeping More Evil out of office.
2. As was shown in the 2000 election, there is a very significant difference between the parties. The argument was made at the time that we should vote for Nader because there was no real difference between Bush and Gore. Had Gore been elected, we can be reasonably sure that at least the following differences would have been evident:
- No war in Iraq
- Much smaller deficits, if any
- Supreme Court that would not have made this Citizens United decision
- Less dependence on fossil fuels, further along on renewable energy
- Less global warming
Regardless of what you think of Gore and whose pocket you think he may have been in, the above differences are still pretty predictable. Those differences cannot be construed as insignificant by any thinking human being. This does not mean that we all would have approved of a Gore administration. We wouldn't have had to, because the question is not whether a Gore administration would have been Good, the question is whether a Gore administration would have been Better than the Bush administration was, because those two administrations were the only realistically available alternatives.
The differences in this election are likely to be smaller but we're starting out in way worse shape. Again, I'm not claiming that a second Obama administration would be Good, I'm claiming that it would be Better than a Romney administration. We can be reasonably sure we'd see certain differences, such as:
- A difference in the makeup of the Supreme Court
- Differences in where the tax burdens fall. Romney is unlikely to increase taxes on the wealthy (all he claimed in the debate was that he wouldn't decrease them but they're historically low now), Obama is likely to increase them
- Differences in how much renewable energy is supported compared to fossil fuels, with resultant differences in global warming and oil dependence
- Differences in the economy as a whole, because the more tax policy and government programs are skewed toward helping people lower on the economic ladder, the more business will be created
- Differences in the economy as a whole in terms of different approaches to how to balance austerity and the deficit
- Differences in support for social programs for those without resources in general
- Differences in support for college/university education, which is critical for American competitiveness
- Differences in how minority populations are treated, including support for or opposition to the Arizona approach to defining who it's reasonable for police to stop under what circumstances
- Differences in womens' rights, including support for the Lily Ledbetter law, abortion rights, etc.
- Differences in support for gay rights
- Differences in the availability of health care and nursing home care for the poor and elderly
- Differences in environmental policy in general. Whether or not you think Obama is an environmentalist, he's certainly more of one than Romney is
- Differences in military spending. Romney is supporting spending the Pentagon is actually not requesting
I’m not saying that the similarities between the candidates are not greater than the differences. That’s beside the point. The point is that these differences would have a significant impact on many people’s lives. The only valid path to the conclusion that any liberal/progressive shouldn’t vote Democratic is to claim that the differences between the candidates, including those listed above, would not have a significant impact on many peoples’ lives. If that’s not your case, then
To ignore these differences is irresponsible, Period.
If it is your case, make it. Not in comparative terms, in absolute terms.
[Note on 10/22: Due to a remark by Skypixeo on his blog, I will amend that last sentence to read: "Not in general terms, in specific terms." The point here is that simply stating "they're too equivalent" amounts to ignoring these differences. If you choose to ignore these differences, I ask that you acknowledge the differences you're ignoring.]
3. Without some sort of long-term agenda for replacing Democrats with something better, this posturing is useless. Fine, Democrats Suck. Now what? Voting for Jill Stein, as much as her issue stands are far closer to mine than Obama's are, is posturing because there's no way in Hell we could even in theory build enough support for her in this election cycle for her to have the chance of Half a snowball in Hell to get elected President.
So, to conclude, the best available damage control at the moment is voting Democratic. After that, if you want to either get rid of the Democrats or change their agenda, come up with a plan to do so. Or at least the beginnings of one.
Because of the significant differences between the parties, EVEN IF BOTH ARE EVIL, voting Democratic gets us a better result AT THE MOMENT than voting Republican does for the simple reason that it helps more people. That is why I am writing this.
I’ve seen loads of lists of Six Million Ways Obama Is Awful. I’ve read them. I agree with some of the points I find on them. However, the category they fall into is Grievance Lists, not Plans. They’re kvetching. Withholding your vote will not make any of these grievances go away; it is in fact likely to make many of them worse.
If you want me to withhold my vote from any Democrat, you have to tell me what good that will do. Because that’s the thing: I’m not interested in making a Statement or a Gesture, particularly as an alternative to helping people, even if that help is relatively minimal. I don’t care if I am theoretically soiling my hands by the very act of voting for horrible people, because keeping my hands clean is not my biggest priority. Having clean hands doesn’t help anyone else.
If you want me to withhold my vote from any Democrat because voting amounts to fiddling on the deck of the Titanic, tell me what to do about the gashes in the hull. If I can’t do anything about them, I will do more people more good by fiddling on the deck than I would by running around screaming “Bastards! They put gashes in the hull!”
I want to know what to DO. I want a course of action that will actually help people. The course of action I have in mind will at least help some people in the immediate future.
Frankly, if your suggestion helps people less than what I plan to do, your sugggestion is useless.
Let me repeat that in case you didn't get it the first time:
If your suggestion helps people less than what I plan to do, your suggestion is useless.
ADDENDUM, started 1:41 AM, 10/25/12
I have come across what I would consider to be a valid answer to this post. I do not believe it was presented here. It's author is Skypixeo. The point he makes is that the US Presidential election is decided by the Electoral College, not the popular vote, so if you don't live in a swing state, your vote is screamingly unlikely to affect the outcome and is therefore unlikely to prevent Romney's election. If that is the case, you may actually help more people in the long run by voting Green, both as a statement to the Democratic Party for what they've gotten wrong as of late (and a signal of what they need to correct and that said corrections may be a matter of some urgency) and as a way of building a party whose views may reflect yours more closely than those of the Democratic Party.
I happen to live in a swing state whose result is far from a foregone conclusion, so my post still applies to me. It does not, however, necessarily apply to all those reading it.