Sweetie and I will be voting today. For me, this election is a no-brainer, at least at the federal level. I’ll be voting a straight Democratic ticket, and not because I think the Democrats I get to choose from are all that and a bag of chips. They are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. The ones I have to choose from are far more conservative than I am.
I worry when I hear Shelley Berkley advocate a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I worry when President Obama touts the Simpson-Bowles Commission and wonder if Social Security will be there for me in eleven years. I oppose the drone strikes. I think we are far too militaristic and would like to see our Pentagon budget reduced. The Affordable Care Act did not go nearly far enough for this Single Payer advocate.
But voting for Jill Stein, in this closer-than-close swing state is not an option, because there are some really important issues that matter.
The separation of church and state matters.
The U.S. Constitution declares that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”
Unfortunately, we do have a de facto religious test, much to my dismay.
However, while Barack Obama is a declared Christian, and he ends every speech with “God Bless America,” (Oh how I long for the days when politicians just ended their speeches with “Thank you.”), he at least has not been beholden to the religious right and has (gasp!) acknowledged that there are a great many people in our country who do not believe.
When I see the denial of science in climate change or hear a sitting Congressman declare that the Theory of Evolution, embryology and the Big Bang theory are “lies straight from the pit of hell,” or hear a Senate candidate declare that a “legitimately raped” woman cannot get pregnant because her body just “shuts that whole thing down” I am stunned. When I learn that these people are in charge of my life, and literally in charge of science research dollars, I am beyond gob-smacked.
I vote for reason. I vote for facts.
When I see Republicans denying women the right to control their own bodies and denying women their reproductive rights on the basis of said Republicans’ religious beliefs, whether it be it contraception or abortion, or categorizing some rape victims as legitimate (and others, by extension, not) or declaring the pregnancies resulting from that rape as a blessing from God, I am horrified.
Religious people in this country have the Constitutional right to believe whatever they want and to live their lives accordingly. They do not have the right to force anyone else, under penalty of law, to do the same.
Keeping religion out of our bodies, our bedrooms and our classrooms matters.
Voting rights matter.
When I see the voter suppression efforts pushed by Republicans in state after state, I am stunned. There are virtually no known cases of In Person voter fraud. Why would there be? It makes no sense. In order to pull off a crime of that magnitude, the people engaging in it would have to be willing to risk up to two years in prison for this federal offense. It’s just not going to happen. If Republicans really were worried about voter fraud, they’d tighten up absentee voting which has a much higher potential for fraud. (See granny farming)
But they won’t because absentee voting tends to favor Republicans. Voter ID laws are designed to suppress voters who traditionally tend to vote for Democrats. I guess if you can’t win in an open election on the merits of your argument, it just makes sense to remove the competition!
When I see Mitt Romney careen from position to position, never knowing what side of an issue he’s going to be on, I know I cannot trust him to be at the helm of our country for the next four years.
I may not agree with President Obama on every position he’s taken, and regular readers know who I supported in the Democratic primaries the last time around, but over the past term, I’ve come to understand that we don’t have a liberal Democratic president. (Can anyone tell me when we ever have?). We have now someone I would characterize a progressive Republican president, kind of in the mold of Dwight David Eisenhower, except that Obama accepts the idea of the Military Industrial Complex. And that, my friends, is the best we’re going to do this time around. Further, I’m pretty sure I know where Barack Obama stands on most issues important to me. I have not seen him bobbing and dodging the way Mitt Romney has.
There are things I don’t agree with this President on. Race to the Top. No public option in the Affordable Care Act. Drones. Simpson-Bowles.
But . . .
I’ve seen President Obama grow in his office.
I’ve watched the economy come back from near disintegration.
I’ve seen the war in Iraq end. And I see light at the end of the tunnel in Afghanistan.
I’ve seen the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
I’ve seen him evolve on gay marriage to where he now stands with the majority of Americans on legalizing it.
I’ve seen him nominate two women to the highest court in the land, which that brings me to my next point:
The Supreme Court matters.
During the next four years whoever is President will likely select one or two more Supreme Court justices. Beyond women’s reproductive rights, I need to consider what a Romney nominee (or two) might do for workers’ rights as well.
As Bill Fletcher, Jr. at Black Commentator put it:
Who gets to appoint the next several Supreme Court justices could have an impact for decades. We have already seen the damage done by George W. Bush’s appointments to the Supreme Court in the form of the Citizen’s United decision on campaign spending. In looking at the cases that are moving to the Supreme Court or have been taken under their jurisdiction, e.g., the Texas affirmative action case, I sure wish that there was a different balance on the Supreme Court.
These considerations are important when one realizes that progressive forces in the USA remain on the defensive. If we had the initiative there might be a different discussion. But at the moment we are trying to hold off some of the worst elements of an increasingly barbaric capitalism. No, Obama does not open the road to fundamental social transformation, but to tell you the truth, if he can shift the Supreme Court balance even slightly that will be an important victory; a victory with a potentially lasting impact.