Tuesday, November 6, 2012

doing my civic duty

My immediate family has a history of being politically independent. We vote third-party, and we're proud of it.

...Except that my immediate family's all in Massachusetts. In 2004 (my first presidential election), I voted for Nader. In the 2008 election, I also voted Green Party. I was in college in 2004 and in grad school in 2008, so I was registered to vote in Massachusetts -- which is going blue no matter what.

But I'm in Pennsylvania this year, which is suddenly a swing state. It hasn't been a real swing state for the past couple of elections, but this year the polls say that Romney and Obama are neck-and-neck.

I don't agree with everything Obama's done. I wish he'd shut down Guantanamo Bay, for example. Drone wars make my stomach turn, and while I'm in favor of reducing the number of casualties in war, I also realize that 1) we're really interested in saving American lives, 2) they're not as precise as they want us to believe, and 3) I'm pretty much a pacifist, which is sort of out of the range of normal politics. (Can you be the commander-in-chief and be a pacifist? I...doubt it.)

In 2008, when the recession hit, I was in grad school, living off of work-study, the dregs of my savings, and student loans. In a way, even though I was pretty much broke, I was lucky. I know people who weren't so lucky. And while I'm no economist -- far from it -- it looks like it could have ended up much, much worse.

For the record, I support marriage equality; I couldn't look my LGBT friends in the eye if I didn't. I support social programs through the government. I've worked in social services, and poverty is more complicated than private charities can handle.

Our healthcare system is screwed up and probably will continue to be screwed up, but I think that protecting people from getting screwed over by insurance companies (because of pre-existing conditions and the like) is a really good thing. And when I was 24 and didn't have health insurance, I really could have used the Affordable Care Act. My middle brother, at 25, benefits from it -- he works as a chef and can still be on my parents' insurance.

What I realize is this: no candidate is going to be perfect -- Democrat, Republican, or third-party. I'd rather have a multi-party system. But we don't have one. And I'm a pragmatist under all my cynicism and idealism.

I think four or five years ago, I was probably less pragmatic and more of an idealist. But maybe that's the price of growing up.

If I were registered in MA, I'd vote for Jill Stein, because her platform is most closely aligned with my opinions. Plus, her running mate is Cheri Honkala, who's from Philly and is kinda awesome

I'm not in MA, though. Since I'm in PA, I voted for Obama.

Also, John Scalzi nails my thoughts about the current Republican party:
Look: The modern national Republican party is a hot mess, a simmering pot of angry reactionaries driven by selfishness and willful ignorance, whose guiding star is not governance but power, and whose policies and practices are tuned to build an oligarchy, not nurture a democracy. Its economic policies are charitably described as nonsense and its social policies are vicious; for a party which parades its association with Jesus around like a fetish, it is notably lacking in the simple compassion of the Christ. There is so little I find good or useful in the current national GOP, intellectually, philosophically or politically, that I genuinely look on it with despair and wonder when or if the grown-ups are ever going to come back to it. Before anyone leaps up to say that the modern Democratic Party has problems of its own, know that I do not disagree. But if your practical choices for governance of the country are between the marginally competent and the actively malicious, you go with the marginally competent.
Go read the whole thing. In general, the Republicans scare me. Romney seems to have gone back on many of his pretty moderate views that he espoused while he was the governor of Massachusetts. And Paul Ryan? You're going to pick the guy who bases his political philosophy around Ayn Rand?

When it comes down to it, I trust Obama (albeit tentatively and with trepidation) more than I trust Romney.

So yeah. While the Democrats don't necessarily inspire confidence in me -- they're just as much corporate tools as the Republicans -- I'd rather have them.

Yes, I'm going with the lesser of two evils. I know that a lot of people would disagree with me on that, but there it is.

But! Just to make your day brighter, just to end this on a nonpartisan note, have a classroom of fourth-graders schooling you on your civic duty:

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