Hi fellow registered voter/frutrated progressive, I hear that you are thinking of sitting this one out and not voting. I’m sure that you have some really great reasons, but let me try to convince you to show up anyway and vote for the “lesser of two evils”.
So you are worried that voting on election day is going to be a pain in the ass? Well that is a legitimate concern. Urban areas especially are chronically undeserved with an appropriate number of polling locations, and the post 2010 Republican party decided that the most important freedom available to citizens in this country should also be its most regulated transaction (SMALL GOVERNMENT™). However many states have in person early voting, absentee ballots, or voting by mail (which is what I did two weeks ago). Furthermore in many cases you can even call your local Democratic party and ask them for a ride to the poll. If your job refuses to give you time off to vote feel free to tell them to go fuck themselves, as this is probably illegal.
But you say that Obama is a huge disappointment and that there is no way you could vote for him again. You are particularly incensed by his betrayal on his promise to lay off of medical marijuana regulation, and his use of weaponized drones that have killed innocent civilians. Again those are legitimate issues to have with the President, but let’s imagine what Mr. Romney, a man who lacks even the basic ability to empathize with another human being would do on those same issues. Trust me, Life for pot smokers and Afgani civilians will continue to suck hard under a Romney Presidency.
But while we are on the subject of your respect for life and humanity, let’s evaluate Obama’s major accomplishments while in office: the Affordable Care Act and the Stimulus.
You want to know why you are not fighting other newly-minted hobos for the last banana peel that fell off of the garbage truck leaving Newport Beach? Because the President pushed a huge stimulus through that saved our economy from being completely destroyed by the compulsive predatory gamblers we like to call “financial service employees”.
Want to know why your girlfriend now has no-copay birth control, why your mom can get insurance regardless of the fact that she had breast cancer at age 30, or why your grandpa is paying less for his prescription lipitor? Because Obama staked his entire fucking Presidency on passing a piece of legislation that every goddamn President since Truman had tried and failed to accomplish (and he did it with the most obstinate congress in history).
How many lives were saved by the stimulus and healthcare reform? Many more than have been taken by your hated drones.
But you say that America is dominated by a corrupt two party system that disregards the interests of the poor and is indebted to the interests of the military industrial complex and the vandals on Wall Street. Again I agree with you, but unfortunately for you (and I) being “right” in making this observation is not going to change any of those problems that you identified. In fact you staying on the couch our you making a protest vote for Rosanne Barr or Jill Stein is only going to make things worse. Let’s turn things over to Robert Reich for a second as he explains the how to the world outside of Happy Gumdrop Fairy-Tale Land works:
Your cynicism is understandable. But cynicism is a self-fulfilling prophesy. If you succumb to it, the regressives who want to take this nation back to the 19th century win it all.
The Koch brothers, Karl Rove, the rabid Republican right, CEOs and Wall Street titans who want to entrench their privileges and tax advantages – all of them would like nothing better than for every progressive in America to throw in the towel.
Then America is entirely theirs.
The alternative to cynicism is to become more involved in politics. Help create a progressive force in this nation that grows into a movement that can’t be stopped.
We almost had it last year in the Occupy movement. We had the arguments and the energy. What we lacked was organization and discipline.
I’ve spent years in Washington and I know nothing good happens there unless good people outside Washington are organized and mobilized to put pressure on Washington to make it happen.
Step one: Vote for Barack Obama for President and vote for every Democratic senator and representative in Congress. Get off your ass and make sure your friends and relatives do the same.
Step two: Starting Election Day, regardless of who’s elected, commit at least three hours every week to political organizing and mobilizing. Connect with other progressives in your city and state. Help find and recruit new progressive candidates to run against Republicans in swing states, and against conservative Democrats. Support the members of the progressive caucus in Congress. Raise money. Raise a ruckus.
To put things in an even more dramatic context, I’ll finish things up by talking about citizenship. Let’s imagine that you and your family are minding your own business, doing your best to live your days peacefully while making a good life for yourselves in this country. Then one day people from the country where your parents were born (and then left) come over and start a war with the United States, sparking a racist freak out throughout the land. Before you know it you and everyone who looks like you are inside concentration camps, deprived of every possible form of human rights and dignity that your previously enjoyed. You would have every right to be very pissed off.
This is the story of what happened to Frank Tanabe, but his shitfest does not end there. No he signed up to fight in World War II for the sole purpose of showing the fucked up assholes in the US Government that he and his family were not “enemies”, but rather human beings who were proud of the principles of democracy and self-governance that were supposedly inherent within the US Constitution. He and his fellow soldiers in the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service fought their asses off for a country filled with people who hated them. Only years later did we as a nation give him and his compatriots the Medal of Honor for their service, and we as a nation have arguably never properly atoned for the disgusting sin of internment.
Tanabe defined what it means to be a citizen in this country, a privilege for him that came only after he literally risked his life. He voted in every single election, despite the myriad of reasons for someone in his position to remain cynical about the entire concept of American “citizenship”. People like him have suffered even more in the hopes to achieve full status as a citizen in this country. Congressman John Lewis was beaten almost to death for the crime of trying to register voters in the segregated south. James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner were trying to do the same thing when they were shot to death by a lynch mob in Missisippi and buried in a dam. The entire 14th Amendment itself, with its precious birthright citizenship, was only achieved by way of the Civil War. More people than you can imagine have spilled blood over this right that only takes a few moments of your time.
Tanabe died yesterday at the age of 93 after being diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. You want to know what he did from his deathbed? He fucking voted. Meanwhile close to 50% of us who have this privilege by way of our birthright choose not to exercise it because of the hassle or the moral compromise that would have to take place.
What’s your fucking excuse again?