Progressives are taking different approaches to the 2012 elections.
A non-scientific poll
of left of liberal Opednews readers has revealed:
Some are supporting Obama
Some are supporting Rocky Anderson or Jill Stein
Some are intentionally not voting-- "boycotting the election."
Some are voting against both Romney and Obama-- against the corporatist Duopoly
A small percentage are not sure.
One percent are voting for Romney.
Here's my take on these approaches, but first, you might want to listen, to get in the mood, to Pennywise's song.
Here's an excerpt from the lyrics:
Someday you gotta find another way, you better right your mind
and live by what you say
Today is just another day unless you set your sights and try to find a way
I say f*ck authority
Raised by the system
Now it's time to rise against them
We're sick of your treason
Sick of your lies
f*ck no, we won't listen
We're gonna open your eyes
Frustration, domination, feel the rage of a new generation,
First, overall, I feel that there's not much hope that electoral politics will produce change in the US. I've written off any serious expectations that even Democrats will stand by their consituents when they have a choice of supporting constituents or the corporations and billionaires who buy their TV ads.
We need to put energy into six major efforts:
1-end the two party system and get instant run-off voting (IRV) or something like it in place at a national level. I realize that there are criticisms to IRV, and alternatives. I'm just saying we need something that allows people to select their first choice and then, also, their choice of the lesser of two evils.
2- Eliminate computerized voting and replace it with verifiable, re-countable paper ballot voting. The USA's computerized voting system will, someday, be viewed as a shameful episode of history-- either by a USA that repudiates this system that is so vulnerable to corruption, or by other democratic nations that label the third world fascist state the US has become a failure of democracy.
3-Reform election finance and end the disaster that Citizens United has wrought. It will probably take a constitutional amendment to do it. Take all private, corporate, union money, PAC money and "non-profit" money and resources out of politics. Make all elections totally government funded. Actually, if one of the five right wingers on the supreme court is replaced, all it would take would be a simple decision to overturn Citizens United. The same could apply to the right to corporate personhood. If the five right wingers were able to overturn 100 years of precedent to set the Citizens United ruling, then a new five can use THAT precedent to overturn the original supreme court ruling that established the right of corporate personhood.
4-End Corporate Personhood. The Terminator movie series shows a world where humanity is being wiped out by inhuman things that humans created. That world exists now. The difference is instead of cyborg robots being the threat, transnational corporations, run by sociopaths, are the threat.
5-Totally revamp the educational system.
The current system is still based on the Prussian model of education that was designed to produce obedient factory workers and soldiers. We need a new system that's been described by Paulo Freire
and John Taylor Gatto
who described educational approaches that teach people to THINK and to challenge information, rather than simply memorize and "bank" information. We need to offer college education for free to all who qualify and we need to take major steps to stop and reverse the privatization and profitization of education.
6- Establish once and for all that everyone gets to vote, without ID cards or any other impediments to access to the voting booth. History will look at the efforts of 2012 to disenfranchise millions of voters as another shameful element of the white, top-down right's dying effort hold on to control as the bottom-up revolution continued to unfold.
Okay, so that's what needs to be done. Here's my take on the different approaches progressives, lefties, socialists and anarchists seem to be taking.
Boycotting the vote:
The two party system is rotten to the core. But the vote is the key to democracy. Currently the duopoly has corrupted the system, including the effects of Citizens United. But the answer is not to stay out of the voting process. The answer is to stay in the game, to vote against the two party system as much as possible and even then, with some caveats.
Voting Third Party:
If you are in a solid blue or red state-- vote third party, to show your dissatisfaction, contempt, opposition to the two party fraud that is really a duopoly. If you are worried about Obama, that's fine. But if you are in a solid blue state, your vote won't matter.
If you are in a swing state, for some it's a much tougher call. There, your vote can make a huge difference in the big race between corporatists Obama and Romney. Your participation in the pre-election day actions-- canvassing, phone banking, donations-- can make a big difference. I can see some progressives taking different approaches:
-canvassing and supporting Obama pre-election, then voting for him, or voting third party.
-canvassing and support third party candidates then voting for them or voting for Obama.
-staying home, not participating in the process at all.
I also think that sending the anti-two-party message can be effective if you split your ticket. Particularly look at local candidates from all parties. Find out about them, get to know them. Do good citizen diligence and don't write off everyone.
Voting for Romney
I think there's a small contingent of contrarian voters who are thinking that the way to get the masses to rise up is to raise the temperature on the boiling frogs, that if Romney wins, the people who voted Democratic might finally get out into the streets. I'm not one of them, but I do think that if Romney wins there may be a greater likelihood of enough street protests to actually make a difference-- if Romney doesn't order people arrested or shot.
Voting for Obama-- about 20% of the poll respondents said they were voting for Obama. Generally, they cite the Supreme Court as the number one reason. More on Obama supporter thinking below.
First, I've received a number of emails, like these:
email subject heading: THIS MAKES ME SICK AT HEART
I just read your poll info and am appalled at the results.
For example, only 17 of OEN readers are voting for Obama. About two thirds are going third party. OEN is covering the whole election picture, including those who oppose voting or just don't give a damn (12% of our poll respondents.)
You're not going to see that kind of coverage elsewhere.
Last month, John Boehner called his Tea baggers in Congress, "knuckle dragging Neanderthals" in a rare moment of candor.
I don't know what to call our progressives who are disappointed in Obama and so won't vote for him. Maybe delusional? How can any American not know that voting for third parties is the same as voting for the Republicans? Do they not know that like it or not, we have a two party system? I could see voting for other parties if we had a parliamentary system. Then their votes would translate into seats in parliament. BUT WE DON'T.
Do they not remember that voting for Nader in Florida gave us Bush, a conservative Supreme Court, Citizens United and every other horrible Supreme Court 5 to 4 decision for the conservative causes? And the knuckle-dragging Tea baggers. People who don't vote, don't deserve to live in a democracy.
Disappointed progressives seem to think the election is all about their feelings. It's perfection they want or they will sulk and pout. When did politics have anything to do with perfection. Or for that matter, promised made at election time. This sets my hair on fire. If Obama loses because of the loss of left wing pouties, we will lose our democracy for sure and then not voting will be the order of the day. International corporations will decide everything according to the law of the Republicans.
And here's another lovely email, in response to my mailing yesterday, announcing the poll results:
Third Party....60 days before the election? YOu're a total a**hole, ROB!
So, it's getting ugly out there. There's a pattern I see among Obama-supporting Democrats. They accuse progressives of being un-realistic and impatient, of wanting too much too fast. They excuse Obama for not getting more done, assuming that's the big issue for progressives who have written Obama off, and blame the nasty Republicans for keeping him from doing all the knight in shining armor stuff they assume he would have done otherwise.
That's nonsense to me. I never expected much from Obama, especially after he appointed DLC leader and former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta to run the transition team, even less after he appointed progressive-hating Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff. But I did expect him to keep his promises-- to close Guantanamo, to end torture. And I did not expect him to be the worst president in history when it came to the treatment of Whistleblowers. I didn't expect him to cut a deal with hospitals and big Pharma that promised to exclude the public option, never mind single payer.
There's another angle that Obama supporters raise-- the accusation that it was Nader's fault that Gore lost to Bush. The truth is that Gore won, but the SCOTUS Republicans decided to appoint Bush president before the counting was through. And if the Democrats had been tougher and Gore had fought harder, Bush would have been trounced. There's another angle too, commented on by OEN regular, Michael Shaw
, who wrote, in a comment: <blockquote> I would further add that the votes Nader received were equally divided between democrats and republicans and the bulk of their votes came from independents who probably would not have voted otherwise!</blockquote>
Okay, so, as an active Obama supporter in 2008, I have felt duped, played and betrayed. Now that gerrymandering and retirements have removed some of the best and last remaining Democrats in congress, I feel that congress offers next to no hope of seeing progressive visions being realized. To me, these elections are a distraction from the more important work of organizing activism, including civil disobedience-- as people like Chris Hedges
have described and as the heroes of Occupy Wall Street have acted.
Personally, I live in a swing state, which makes it much harder to decide. If I lived in either a solidly blue or red state, I'd definitely vote third party. But Pennsylvania is up for play. While I see Obama as one of the two corporate duopolist candidates, I also feel that handing the White House and the Supreme Court to the Republicans could cause irreversible, irreparable harm to the USA. So I haven't decided yet what I'll do. I like both Jill Stein and Rocky Anderson, but I also don't want Romney to be picking the next Supreme Court Justice. In my state, PA, the decision about voter ID has yet to get a final hearing at the state Supreme Court. That could be the deciding factor, but probably not, for me. If voter ID is allowed, then I believe PA will effectively become a red state, with 800,000 mostly Democratic voters disenfranchised.
These are tough times with tough decisions to make. Calling people names for trying to do what they believe is right will only make matters worse.
It IS time to think through, really thoroughly, what YOU will do. This is not just another election. That's for sure. But I do hope you consider your vote based on the current corporatist duopoly and whether you are in a solid red or blue, or swing state.