- Pennsylvania Among 'Terrible 10' Most Regressive Tax States
- February 4 Non-Partisan Training: HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013: HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Republican Governors Opt-In to Medicaid Expansion
- The Reports of Unions' Death Are Greatly Exaggerated
- Ask Allyson Schwartz to run for Governor
- Mind the gap: Opting Out of Medicaid Expansion Leaves Low-income Families Behind
- Jan. 14 Workshop:HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013; HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Seth Williams on Guns, Jasmine Rivera on School Closures @PFC Meetup Wednesday
- PA Revenue Strong Midway Through Year; Tax Cut Could Have Big Impact
- What to Make of the Fiscal Cliff Deal?
Making the Perfect the Enemy of the Best We Can Get in Presidential Politics 2012
I would love Green Party candidate Jill Stein to be President since I agree with almost all her proposed policies and programs. I would also like myself to be President because I like all my proposed policies and programs. Here’s the problem. Jill Stein and I have an equal chance of being elected President. That chance, of course, would be zero.
So why would anyone engage in the futile act of voting for Jill Stein, or no less usefully, writing in their own name for President? Five reasons are usually offered.
First, of course, is the well-worn cliché that there is no difference between Romney and Obama; therefore there’s no reason to vote for either one of them. That is just patently false. Here are just a few obvious differences:
• Obama would keep Obamacare, and Romney would repeal it. Romney’s win would mean that tens of millions of low wage workers who would otherwise have health insurance would not get it. Their only health care provider would be the emergency room. Many of them would die of diseases diagnosed too late for them to get the medical care that would save them.
• Romney would voucherize Medicare, making it unaffordable for millions of seniors. He would also do everything in his power to privatize, i.e., destroy, social security;
• Romney would raise taxes on working people, cut them for the rich;
• Romney would appoint judges intent on repealing Roe v. Wade, and eliminating affirmative action;
• Romney would attack the ability of unions to exist;
• Romney budgets, if they follow the lead of his running mate and other House Republican leaders, would decimate food stamps, education funding, and federal aid to cities of all sorts;
• Romney would make the EPA into something as fierce as a big slice of pumpkin pie.
We also are told that Obama is just a corporate tool, just like Romney. I have sympathy for this argument. Obama should have broken up the big banks, but instead created a regulatory regime that requires vigorous and committed agencies to enforce. Such agencies, however, don’t really exist. Obama’s Justice Department has prosecuted no major Wall Street CEO’s for their rampant fraud and self-dealing that created the Great Recession. He’s done little to make banks reduce the mortgage debt of below water homeowners.
But Obama also cut big banks out of the student loan program, enraging them, and saving students millions. He pushed for and signed credit card reform, eliminating major abuses. He pushed for and signed into law the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the brainchild of Elizabeth Warren. Obamacare forces insurance companies to spend more on health care, less on administrative overhead and profits.
In short, Obama has a mixed record on corporate regulation. Romney? It’s clear that as a child of Wall Street, Romney would do none of the things that we wish Obama would have done, and repeal everything Obama did that was worthwhile.
Then, of course, there are the social issues. Obama supports gay marriage, mandatory health insurance coverage for birth control, and the Dream Act. Romney, not. Indeed, as noted above, Romney would appoint judges who would repeal Roe v. Wade; with Robert Bork as his advisor on judicial appointments, a Romney Supreme Court might well annul the right to privacy altogether. If you like sodomy laws, you will love Mitt Romney’s judicial appointments.
In short, it’s just ludicrous to say there is no difference between Romney and Obama. Even if one views the choice to be between a lesser of two evils, it seems to kind of be a no-brainer to prefer less evil. And there would be a lot less evil with Obama.
The second argument for voting for a good person who has absolutely no chance to win is that even if he’s better than Romney, Obama is just not progressive enough. Obama has not pushed for single payer health insurance, an end to big banks or fracking. Furthermore he has failed to prosecute war criminals, has continued the war on drugs, fires drones at innocent people, and does other stuff that we just don’t like. But here’s the thing. We cannot elect someone who would do any of those things differently. We need to pursue better policies in those areas, but we cannot, in this upcoming real-life election, accomplish them at the ballot box. All we can accomplish by letting Romney win is to keep millions of people from getting health insurance on account of the fact that we can’t elect someone who would prosecute Dick Cheney. How grown up is that?
The third argument to vote for Stein follows from the second: “my conscience won’t permit me to vote for Obama given his horrible civil liberties record or war criminal record, or [insert your own grievance here.]” So to that I just have to ask: Does your conscience allow you to cast a vote that would help someone win who would require women to use coat-hangers for an abortion? And then might put them in jail? Or someone who would require poor people to use emergency rooms as their only source of health care? My conscience tells me no.
Next, people say, “we must teach the Democrats a lesson.” To which I say: “been there, done that.” I’m not arguing that the Green Party helped elect George Bush (although it probably did.) I am arguing that voting for Ralph Nader once or twice obviously has not taught the Democratic Party any observable lesson, or at least not the right lesson. (See section on all the things Obama is doing wrong.) So you think that this time will be different? Why? Anyone proposing that progressives vote for Stein must show why the risk of electing Romney in all his greater evil is worth it because of the prospects that this will cause the Democrats to move to the left in the face of all the evidence to the contrary.
The last argument I hear is that we must build the Green Party as an alternative to the two corporate-owned parties. But again, where is the evidence that casting a completely ineffective vote for President will help build the Green Party? Especially since with Republicans having wall-to-wall power in Washington, it is practically guaranteed that it will be harder for working people, poor people, minorities and urban-dwellers to vote. And that corporations will have greater control over the electoral process than ever. And that labor unions may be on the verge of extinction. Where is the Green Party going to get their votes?
So that’s it folks. I really want to vote for Jill Stein for President even more than I want to vote for myself. But I won’t; I can’t. If you don't want to risk the election of the most right wing government in a century, you won't either.