The Complexities of Voting

From the October 2012 PNL #818

compiled by the PNL editorial committee

Editor’s note: As Election Day draws near, the mainstream media is flooded with campaign ads desperately trying to sway voters in the 11th hour. Here at SPC, we know the electoral process is much more complicated than choosing between two, or even three parties. The PNL Editorial Committee asked you, our readership, to share insights about why you make the voting choices you do, who gets left out, and the effects of such exclusion. Submissions were chosen for diversity of opinion. For author’s integrity, editing was limited to spelling and grammar.

Will you be casting a ballot on November 6?

Who are you endorsing and why?

What are the key issues weighing your decision?

If you choose not to vote, why not?

Are you excluded from the electoral process?

How does this impact your life as a member of our community?

Albert Sales

We need to change the way we and others look at the elections. No matter who each person votes for, it is important to vote. We should look at each candidate and their platform carefully. If the message they send is negative and filled with fear, so will their term in office be. If their platform and presentation is inspiring, we can assume that there is a reason and should look into how likely they are to hold to their statements and claims. Voting based on fear has taken over the nation and made possible some of the worst platforms imaginable. This will only get worse. I have tested my friends many times, getting them to agree with every aspect (when listed individually) of Jill Stein’s platform. They then recall their statements and talk about how “a third party vote is a vote for [insert the two-party candidate they fear].” Only people can change the system. I am voting third party at all levels this time.

Diana Green
I’m voting for Obama & Maffei. We cannot afford the Tea Party fanatics. While social justice movements are extremely important as outside pressure on the political process, let’s realize that the political arena is not a purist pursuit. Obama has had to compromise, but he’s far better than Romney, and I would be upset if not voting or voting for Ursula led to Maffei’s defeat because he is far better than Buerkle. We have to be realistic about this.

Barbara Humphrey
My Confession: I was a card-carrying member of the Democratic Party until 2011. I voted for “lesser of two evil” candidates. Candidates who spoke my values and marched with me for universal healthcare and peace acted against those values once elected (I’m talking to you, Obama and Maffei) and broke my heart. I’m too old to accept second best. My heart can’t take any more breakage. I will vote for Green Party candidates Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala for President/VP and Ursula Rozum for Congress. They stand for my values—peace, justice, freedom, opportunity for all—the Green New Deal.

Anne Woodlen
If I am physically able, I will vote for Obama because I believe he is a morally decent man. Romney is duplicitous. I am one of millions of Americans who are poor and sick. He is a businessman who reads the money line, not a humanist with compassion for citizens who suffer. If I don’t vote it will be because I’m moving to a nursing facility. I will not have to live under a Romney presidency. President Obama has pulled us out of the devastating mess he inherited. Give him another four years to continue his work. Have patience.

Dale Gowin
I generally support the Green Party on most issues, and the Libertarian Party on drug law reform but not much else. I am pissed at Obama for selling out to corporate insurance and banking interests, and for drone strikes and extrajudicial assassinations. But I may cast a ballot for Obama if it looks close on election day, because allowing the Republicans to gain more control would be an act of collective suicide. My compromise is to support the propaganda efforts of the minor parties where appropriate, but to remain firmly undecided and exercise pragmatic judgment at the last minute.

Mitch Lucas
I’m a student at Le Moyne, and in this election I’m voting for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. His thoughts align with my own on the two issues I am most passionate about: education and foreign policy. He wants to eliminate student loans, so colleges will have to compete for students by lowering their tuitions. Tuition is swelling faster than normal economic inflation. No loans not only means lower tuition but also fewer students in endless debt after college. Johnson also realizes the US shouldn’t be throwing money at Israel; besides straining our economy, it funds an incredibly oppressive occupation of a relatively peaceful people. No one agrees with every idea any candidate has, and sure, Obama or Romney will most likely win, but Johnson represents a growing call for compromise in an increasingly divisive political atmosphere; I may not agree with all of his aspirations, but at least he is willing to pick-and-pull many of his policies based on what is right, just and rational, not based on what one party’s usual positions might be. Stop blindly taking sides, start making helpful solutions.

Carole Resnick
I’m going to concentrate on the questions of voting for the “lesser evil” vs. voting for the third party candidate whose positions I actually agree with. The pull toward the lesser evil (i.e., the Democrats) is very strong. While there are no differences between the parties in terms of the ultimate rule of corporate power, ongoing wars, and the forward march of US Imperialism, there are important differences that affect people’s daily lives. That means the so-called social programs—healthcare, abortion and women’s healthcare, education, social security, medicare, civil rights, etc. The margin of difference may be small in some of these areas, but important to all of us who will be affected by the loss and/or changes which would likely occur in an administration which wants to privatize and corporatize everything, and which is anchored in fundamentalist religious principals! At the national level I have almost always gone for the lesser evil Democrat (not so at the local level). I guess at the moment I buy the strategy of building a third/peoples’ party at the local level first, while continuing to vote a damage control ballot in the election for president.

Aly Wane
As an undocumented immigrant, I cannot vote in the presidential elections. The Democratic Party is not my ally despite the fact that it is our best hope for immigration reform. It has only been interested in this issue in relation to the importance of the Latino vote. In addition, as a Progressive, I am disappointed with the Democrats’ militaristic policies and their caving in to corporate interests since the Clinton era. If I were to endorse one candidate, it would be Jill Stein of the Green Party whose platform represents old style FDR-like liberal values.

Derek Ford
I will be casting my vote in 2012 for Peta Lindsay and Yari Osorio, who are representing the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL). I know, and so do Peta and Yari, that they won’t win. But that’s not the point. The point is to intervene in the elections and to raise the banner of revolutionary change, to enter into the elections in order to show that they are rigged, that the system can’t be voted out of power.

Peta, Yari, and the PSL have a clear and accessible 10-point program that I agree with, that includes abolishing—not just reducing—the US imperialist budget, making a job a constitutional right, and seizing the banks (not the individual deposits, but the accumulated super-profits).

My decision to vote is a minor one. My decision to help organize with Peta and Yari, to help raise issues and solutions that are radical (in that they attack the root causes of oppression), is more significant to my community.

Ed Kinane
I probably haven’t voted Republican since my father ran for local office in the sixties; and I tend to avoid Democrats. Someone once said the Democrat party is the death of social movements.

While I have little use for two-party electoral politics, I always do dedicate a few minutes a year to voting. I guess I want to do my bit to avoid the worst of two mediocrities or two evils. Our body politic desperately needs more than the two current corporation-financed parties...who differ like sugar and fat differ, but identical in lacking nutrition.

Real voting doesn’t happen in a booth, but wherever we earn and spend our money. Every dollar we earn or spend is a vote for or against consumerism, for or against the corporations, for or against militarism, for or against the earth and its creatures.