Posted on 30 October 2008.
Voting is on the mind of the general public these days, obviously. Some people are wrestling with who to vote for, while others wonder if voting really matters at all. Both are legitimate perspectives. It’s your democratic right to vote or not vote, despite what frightened liberals have been saying. Voting is not the entirety of democracy. It does, however, dominate our perception of democracy every election cycle. In Connecticut, voters are privileged by our “blue state” status. Therefore, progressive and independent voters should make the most of it.
The most frustrating thing about election season is the gaping hole of political diversity in our country. Our political process is dominated by two parties, Democrats and Republicans, which are largely indistinguishable for progressive voters critical of both occupations (remember Afghanistan?), the lack of universal healthcare, the stranglehold of corporate influence, American military empire, the ignoring or outright hostility toward our most vulnerable populations (children, the poor, the elderly), white privilege, class privilege, gender privilege and sexuality privilege, and so on.
No mainstream candidate stands to address any of these issues to the satisfaction of progressives, nor do they even claim to. Yet, many progressives and even radicals are eager to vote for Barack Obama. Is Obama better than McCain? Sure. He could conceivably usher in a “new deal” of sorts to address the economic crisis. He would likely appoint pro-choice justices to the Supreme Court. Certainly Obama will be a friendler face to the rest of the world than the militaristic McCain. But remember: Bill Clinton’s charismatic “I didn’t inhale,” “I feel your pain” facade didn’t stop him from maintaining deadly sanctions in Iraq, and subsequently bombing them with no provocation or justification, not to mention the shredding of welfare, and his deregulation of the media.
Ultimately, Obama represents a party that is part of the problem, not the solution. Corporate lobbyists and long-bought off members of his own party will have greater access to him as president than any of us. Any real change he seeks to make will be mitigated by these two factors, at least. He will win Connecticut because it’s a so-called blue state. Whether he wins by one vote or 30,000 votes, the result is the same. He gets our seven electoral votes. This frees up Connecticut voters (in particular those who don’t want feel like “spoilers”) to do something better – to vote for minor party candidates who actually represent their political beliefs, thereby positively affecting our political diversity. Or, to not vote at all and work for more direct democracy, beyond the largely corrupt and illegitimate electoral process we have now.
There are more than two choices to make on November 4.