November 4, 2012

Don’t Vote for Obama

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This election I will do what every progressive voter should and cast my ballot for a third-party candidate. I will not perpetuate the tragicomedy that is our two-party system. I understand people want to ensure that Willard Mitt Romney is not elected, but I disagree with their decision to achieve this by unenthusiastically voting for President Obama. Crisis, whether economic or ideological, is not the time to sacrifice principle in favor of pseudo-pragmatism.Many see voting for a candidate other than President Obama as a vote for Willard Mitt Romney. This is myopic. To encourage the Democratic Party to adopt truly progressive stances on issues that affect students such as student debt, health care and climate change in the future, we must vote for third-party candidates now to show our distaste for the options the two parties provide. Doing so will force mainstream candidates to amend their platforms in an attempt to regain disaffected voters. This has happened before, as I will explain, and is sure to happen again if we turn out for lesser-known candidates on November 6.I understand that both Rocky Anderson and Jill Stein have almost no chance of winning next week. I realize neither is particularly charismatic and I disagree with their stances on a number of issues, most notably their unwillingness to prevent the armageddon-hungry Ayatollahs in Iran from developing apocalyptic nuclear weaponry. However, I want to combat the idea that voting for a candidate with whom one mostly agrees but knows will lose is a “waste of your vote.” This, in addition to being platitudinous, is untrue.I rarely agree with Fox News contributor Judge Andrew Napolitano, but on this issue he showed insight that many of his doltish colleagues (I’m looking at you Megyn Kelly) would do well to imitate, when he said, “I reject the idea that a principled vote is wasted. Your vote is yours, and so long as your vote is consistent with your conscience, it is impossible to waste your vote.”In a democratic system there is no such thing as a spoiler candidate or a wasted vote. If a mainstream candidate’s ideas are not representative of enough of the electorate to win a majority of its votes, then the candidate must change her or his policies. Voters do not have to sacrifice their principles in support of a lesser evil. We hold the power. Politicians cannot be elected without our votes. Don’t allow the two-party amalgamation to scare you into perpetuating policies that conflict with your own interests.This has largely been the case with our current President. I openly defend the President’s achievements — among them, the auto bailout and increased credit card company restraints — but I will not let my appreciation of these accomplishments muzzle my critique of President Obama’s dangerous shortcomings.We have allowed President Obama to get away with things over which students, liberals, progressives and Democrats would be outraged had they happened during a Republican administration. To name a few: Obama’s drone strikes that consistently kill kids, the killing of American citizens without trial (Anwar al-Awlaki), the continuation of the war on drugs, record numbers of deportations, the appointment of big bank employees as cabinet secretaries after a financial meltdown triggered by those same banks, the mismanagement of weapons that the government sold to murderous drug cartels in Mexico (Fast and Furious), the re-signing of the Patriot Act, the exclusion of a single-payer healthcare system from the national discourse, re-signing the Bush Tax Cuts and, my personal favorite, the signing of the National Defense Authorization Act, a bill that allows indefinite detention of American citizens without trial and, in so doing, obliterates the underpinnings of the constitutional rule of law.One way to hold President Obama accountable for all of this is to show our distaste by voting for a third-party candidate that advocates the positions we believe Obama should take, whether it be Jill Stein of the Green Party, Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party or, the candidate for whom I will vote, Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party. If a third-party candidate draws support from the Party’s base, Democrats will eventually adopt some of these policies as a way to woo back voters, as they have in the past.In 1936, for example, before he was assassinated, Senator Huey Long of Louisiana, with his “Every Man a King” motto and his “Share Our Wealth” platform, which included an old age pension program, a public works agency and free textbooks, had over 7.5 million supporters and posed a threat to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s reelection. In response, FDR adopted many of Long’s proposals in his Second New Deal to attract the senator’s base. It is to Long and his supporters that we owe our thanks for bringing programs such as Social Security into the mainstream. Today’s third-party candidates can play a similar role on issues such as climate change and the cost of higher education.Most of us vote in solidly red or blue states such as New York, New Jersey, Texas or that golden bastion of beauty, California, all of which receive almost no attention from mainstream candidates. Why give your allegiance to a candidate who has the resources, but not enough interest to make more than a perfunctory effort to earn your vote? Why not, instead, vote your conscience and show that your support is far from assured?Make your vote count. Do not vote for President Barack Obama or Willard Mitt Romney.

S.D. Seppinni is a senior in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He may be reached at s.d.seppinni@cornellsun.com. Letters from a Young Curmudgeon appears alternate Mondays this semester.

Original Author: S.D. Seppinni