To hell with the Democrats

The first US national election I got to vote in was 1988. I was disgusted with Reagan, and worried about the 1980s incarnation of the religious right. So I voted Democratic, and they lost.

In the 1992 presidential elections, I voted Democratic again. I was now thoroughly sick of the American right wing. The Democrats won: we got Clinton, Republican-lite. That was an improvement, I suppose. The Religious Right had less direct influence. Still, it was a center-right government, and all I ended up was being pissed off to a lesser degree. I cast a protest vote in 1996.

In 2000 it was back to the Democrats again. As always, the Republican alternative presented the prospect of turning too much power over to the loonies, particularly the Religious Right. And so it turned out to be, in many ways.

2004, Democrats for another loss. By 2008, I was so sick of the disastrous Bush era that I swallowed my dislike of yet another center-right Democrat and went for Obama.

In all midterm elections I have voted Democratic. I have always lived in reliably Republican or reliably Democratic districts, so my congressional votes have been irrelevant. But I did it anyway.

Now 2012 looms. I face the prospect of voting for yet another neoliberal Democrat whose policies are Republican-lite. And the only reason I can see for that is, yet again, that while the Democrats might be terrible, the Republicans are insane.

No matter who wins, business and financial interests will dominate government. Maybe the plutocratic factions that invest in the Democrats will be less Neanderthal than those who back the Republicans. Maybe the corporate looting will proceed at a slower pace under a second Obama term.

No matter who wins, church-state separation will continue to erode. Maybe with the Democrats we’ll get more inclusive, multicultural public endorsements of superstition.

No matter who wins, the US will continue its wars and its imperial madness, while threatening civil liberties back home. Maybe with Democrats—no, scratch that, it’s not worth even pretending that Democrats will be less hawkish or less prone to torture.

No matter who wins, a significant probability of environmental catastrophe looms. Maybe with Democrats we can postpone the collapse of civilization for a few more years. Maybe even until I’m dead. We certainly won’t do anything to avert catastrophe. That might interfere with someone making money.

Right now I’m sick of everything. There is little prospect that any of the interests I identify with will get represented to more than a token degree.

I accept that politics has to be about compromise. The lesser evil. Half a loaf. But for decades now I’ve been getting crumbs with shit mixed in.

So I’ve had enough. Yes, I’m a secular liberal socialist atheist evolutionist, and I understand that it is political poison for a candidate for office in the US to be associated with any of these things. But if a party wants my vote—or praise, or effort, or donations—it had better do something more substantial in line with my secular liberal socialist atheist evolutionist sensibilities. Otherwise, if I still vote for them anyway, I contribute, in however minor a fashion, to my own marginality.

Right now, Democrats have no incentive to take the concerns of people like me seriously. Perhaps this is because we are a politically insignificant minority. If so, maybe our efforts are best directed toward improving this situation, and just loyally voting for Democrats does not help. And if there is a significant secular liberal etc. etc. constituency, well, I suspect we have been stupid for not putting pressure on the Democrats. Withhold support, and perhaps Democratic hacks will notice an incentive to do more for us.

In any case, I’m done. I don’t think I can vote again for, say, Obama, while retaining my self-respect.

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About Taner Edis

Professor of physics at Truman State University


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