An Irrational Reason to Vote

An Irrational Reason to Vote September 7, 2012

I have to take issue with Tom Flynn from the Center for Inquiry for announcing that Obama has now lost his vote because the Democratic National Convention added “god” into the platform to avoid having the Republicans say “ZOMG, they didn’t mention God in the platform!” That was a bit of ridiculous pandering, to be sure, but it doesn’t merit this response:

I don’t know who I will vote for in November; surely I won’t vote for America’s least-repentant dog torturer. But I won’t vote for the man who silently cashiered his bold campaign stand against employment discrimination by faith-based charities in exchange for a little less condemnation by the religious Right (see my February 9 post, http://www.centerforinquiry.net/blogs/entry/a_clarion_call_–_and_a_bombshell_–_on_obama_and_church-state/). And I won’t vote for the man who demanded that God be rammed back into the platform even if the Democratic Party had to forgo democracy in order to pull it off.

This is a bit baffling — and I say that as someone who has long said that he cannot and will not vote for Obama. But to make that decision based on that reason? Seriously? This is taking single-issue voting to a ridiculous extreme. The “god” move by the convention was craven pandering, of course, but it seems awfully strange to me to ignore all of the far more important things Obama has done to focus on that one thing as a reason not to vote for him. If the complete rejection of the rule of law, the consistent expansion of executive power and the systematic undermining of the Bill of Rights, the separation of powers and the checks and balances in the Constitution isn’t enough to convince you not to vote for him, why would that one bit of silly but irrelevant pandering do it? Seems rather irrational to me.

"I didn't think anyone watched his channel except Right Wing Watch."

Now Bernstein Gets White House Press ..."
"At least I have balls to bust and the lady of the house can show ..."

Now Bernstein Gets White House Press ..."
"Speaking of the rally here in Phoenix. I just made $1,200 profit selling Trump memorabilia ..."

Now Bernstein Gets White House Press ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • schism

    It’s also irrational because Obama blathers about god and faith every chance he gets, just like basically every other Democratic politician.

  • I understand and respect your decision not to vote for Obama … he has been a serious disappontment in the area of executive power, torture, etc.

    But either Obama or Romney is going to be president. It may be a choice between evils but I know which is the lesser.

  • I voted for Kodos.

  • d cwilson

    That does make no sense. If you withheld your vote for any politician who ever pandered to this or that religious group, you’d be writing in Mickey Mouse in every election.

  • iknklast

    I have chosen not to vote for Obama on several counts, though I will say I do hope he will win, if only because he is the only one of the two candidates I think will not make things worse for women, LGBT, and minorities.

    I live in a dark red state; because of the electoral college, I know it doesn’t matter who I vote for, Romney will get my vote. I feel comfortable voting for a third party. In the event my vote would ever make the difference for Obama getting my state, he won’t need this state because we’re so far out of Obama territory that most other states will already have gone to him.

    I think all progressives who live in red states should vote for a third party candidate of their choice. Until the Democrats realize they can’t count on progressives to just accept what they’re doing, they’ll continue selling out progressivism in favor of corporate cash.

    I do agree that Tom Flynn’s stance might be a little much, since Obama has made no secret of his God fixation (whether real or pandering is irrelevant; the result is the same). I think there are many things that are more important than whether someone mentions the word God – Ed mentioned several, and I’ll just add the environment on which Obama has been worse than disappointing (not that I think Romney will be better, and could possibly be worse). Overall, I think it’s time to show the Democrats that we have values, too, and those values are important enough to effect our vote.

  • Ichthyic

    I know which is the lesser.

    how?

    I HOPE one is the lesser of evils, but to know that? I don’t know these men personally.

    do you?

    it seems unlikely, but maybe mittens just wants power so bad he’ll say anything to get it, but once he does, he becomes entirely rational?

    I see both good and bad things in Obama’s last 4 years. Good things like not defending DOMA in court because it is unconstitutional, and forcing the rethuglicans to do it out of their pocket, bad things like continuing the snowballing trend to allow for more and more power to be exhumed by the executive branch.

    I suppose a conscience vote is a waste of time anymore, but I figure if people like Ed, and many others, are correctly and entirely dissatisfied with the choices presented for governance, there is really only one thing to do, right?

    if you want something done right, do it yourself.

    you want to change government? start small and work your way up.

    you don’t to run for POTUS to change the country, you know.

    if everyone who wanted things to change simply took a little time to get involved, things like the clown car that constituted this year’s republican nominees for POTUS eventually wouldn’t happen. “Progressive” candidates that make Ronald Reagan almost centered wouldn’t be in office…

    democracy fails due to apathy, not evil.

    men who want power and shouldn’t have it will inevitably take it if nobody else does.

  • Ichthyic

    I voted for Kodos.

    I blame you not then.

  • it seems unlikely, but maybe mittens just wants power so bad he’ll say anything to get it, but once he does, he becomes entirely rational?

    If he says anything to get power, won’t he do anything to keep power? We know who he is pandering to to get it. Won’t he pander to them to keep it?

    democracy fails due to apathy, not evil.

    I was, of course, playing off the adage, not describing either man as evil.

  • D. C. Sessions

    The Republican Party and its sponsors appear to have taken Michigan off the list of potential battleground States, so protest votes (or abstentions) are pretty easy to justify. Being in Arizona (and formerly Dan Quayle’s district, to boot) I’ve followed that rule for more than 30 years.

    Once I move to New Mexico, which really does swing both ways, it’s not going to be so easy. I’m not sure I could live with myself if I could have (but didn’t) tip the balance away from replacing Ginsberg with another Alito clone.

  • dharleyman

    …you’d be writing in Mickey Mouse…

    You can’t vote for Mickey Mouse, he believes in cheesus.

  • Didaktylos

    A bit like the French Presidential election deciding round between Chirac and Le Pen: left wing commentators said the choice was between a crook and a fascist.

  • There is only one rational choice to make, and that is between either Romney or Obama, since they are the only options available. One or the other will be the next president, no one else. Now between the two of them the only rational decision is to vote for Obama.

    Here’s how I look at it: A vote for anyone other than Obama, or not voting at all, is a de facto vote for whoever Romney (and Robert Bork) nominates to be the next Supreme Court Justice.

    In a way, that’s why it counts to say that one can vote for Obama even on principle, taking the long term consequences into account (besides also being a lesser-of-two-evils choice in the short term).

    We may well survive the next four years of Obama with what we have left of the Constitution, but the next 30+ years after Romney is done, not so much.

  • jesse

    @D. C. —

    Michigan could still flip, though it is pretty unlikely this time around.

    In a state like Wisconsin I’d not chance a protest vote. I live in NY, so it matters less.

    Granted, were I in a swing-ier state, my decision would be based on

    — how many votes are in the state as a whole? The more there are the less likely mine will make a difference.

    — how many votes would a 3rd party guy get relative to the rest? For example, people blame Nader for losing Florida, but Gore could have ignored Fla. if even half those Nader voters had gone Dem in New Hampshire, where proportionately they were a lot more important. Florida would have ceased to matter.

    — how far ahead or behind is my chosen candidate?

    In Arizona, Democrats are actually competitive to take the state, believe it or not. Imagine if you got every Latino you could to the polls and Obama gets a similar number of votes from them as he did last time. Then go to the Indian reservations, which have been Dem voters for a while.

    Romney has no native son effect, unlike McCain. (Nate Silver gives AZ to Romney 2/3 times).

    Honestly, I am more likely to go for third parties at the local level. It makes a bigger difference there.

    Which brings us to ichtyic. S/he is correct, you have to build a local base. The GOP’s freaky right wing did it for 40 years, first electing people to school boards and town offices. It worked.

    Democrats and progressive people fell way behind in that area, for all kinds of historical reasons. But that’s changing. I covered local politics in Connecticut for a while, and saw how a local Democratic club could punch way above its weight. it just took a little organizing on their part and smart politicking.

    Then there’s the whole not voting Obama thing. I don’t like Obama on a lot of issues either. But given the way the US system is set up if I lived in Wisconsin i wouldn’t see it as much of a choice. Romney and a Republican win would be so horrific for anyone who isn’t white and male, and even for a lot of those guys. At least Obama isn’t gutting the EPA, you know? I can’t imagine using Arizona as an immigration law model, either, as anything but a disaster.

    if we had proportional representation and a parliament, things would be different.

  • Ichthyic

    Won’t he pander to them to keep it?

    depends on what he wants the power for.

    frankly, W did not do much to placate the fundies during his 4 year term (to the point where the fundies were complaining loudly that he had abandoned them), yet completely bent over backwards to appeal to them BEFORE the election.

    see, the fundies have a great voting bloc to take advantage of. It’s large enough to swing most elections if you can get it out in full force.

    however it ISN’T large enough to spontaneously drive a recall election, and also, it mostly consists of passive authoritarian personalities that wouldn’t do that anyway, since they still remain convinced of the “essential” fact that R=good and D=bad.

    so, in essence, no, there is no political reason to do the things the fundies actually ask for once you are in high office.

    all you need do is demonize your opponent and placate them with words once in a while, and they will stay in your corner.

  • Ichthyic

    At least Obama isn’t gutting the EPA, you know?

    umm, that might not be a great example. I seem to recall there have been numerous complaints on that very issue.

  • Mal Adapted

    I understand and respect your decision not to vote for Obama … he has been a serious disappontment in the area of executive power, torture, etc.

    But either Obama or Romney is going to be president. It may be a choice between evils but I know which is the lesser.

    Yeah, me too. My votes are always a decision on the margin. Anyone who wants power enough to get on the ballot is, prima facie, untrustworthy in my estimation. FWIW, I think the founders understood that very well. All we can do is vote for the power-hungry bastard we distrust less, so the other power-hungry bastard doesn’t get it.

  • depends on what he wants the power for.

    I wasn’t thinking just of the “fundies” (speaking of demonizing) but there is (as yet) no real opposition in the Republican party to enforcing DOMA or reimposing DADT or taking any number of Federal actions against gay marriage or abortion or a host of other issues. It’s not just Romney that panders, its the entire Republican congress that does. The Tea Party has concentrated that effect recently, in ways that Dubya never faced. Romney with a Republican Senate (a possibility) and House (almost a certainty) could do a lot of damage.

  • jesse

    @ichyic — then Medicare/ Medicaid — he doesn’t plan to eliminate them, which Republicans do. Or Social Security, which the Republicans said quite clearly they wanted to turn over to Wall Street as an investment plan (ignoring the fact that most people simply can’t save enough for even generous interest rates to guarantee poverty-level income for 20 years).

    Social Security’s “crisis” is one of the biggest canards, and it has got to the point where people actually believe that the only solutions are radical restructuring of the program. You could solve the entire issue by simply raising the payroll tax limit (I think the rule of thumb is every 10,000 dollar increase extends the point where cuts in benefits are necessary something like 15 years). But frankly, the fact that Sandy Weil gets a check and pays a miniscule percentage of his income in is simply ridiculous.

  • …craven pandering…

    Craven Pandering is my vampire name!

    iknklast“…God fixation…”

    God Fixation is my cyberpunk name!

    John Pieret “Romney with a Republican Senate (a possibility) and House (almost a certainty) could do a lot of damage.”

    With a Republican in the White House they don’t need 60 Republicans in the Senate. They don’t even need 50. They’ll have the Blue/Yellow/Snoop Dog Democrats.

  • Nick Gotts (formerly KG)

    A bit like the French Presidential election deciding round between Chirac and Le Pen: left wing commentators said the choice was between a crook and a fascist. – Didaktylos

    And used the slogan “vote for the crook, not the fascist” – which was entirely correct.

  • slc1

    Re Didaktylos @ #11

    Or Edwin Edwards over David Duke for governor of Louisiana.

  • lippard

    jesse wrote: “In Arizona, Democrats are actually competitive to take the state, believe it or not. Imagine if you got every Latino you could to the polls and Obama gets a similar number of votes from them as he did last time. Then go to the Indian reservations, which have been Dem voters for a while.”

    Arizona is an odd state (periodically electing good Democratic governors, and impeaching all (well, both) of our white male Republican governors elected in the last 37 years), but I think there’s virtually no chance of Obama rather than Romney getting the state in 2012. Most recent polls show Romney with an 11% lead over Obama in Arizona. There were some efforts by the Obama campaign in April to put some attention on Arizona as a possible swing state, but that seems to have fizzled. I won’t be surprised at all to see Arizona elect more Democrats in future years as a result of demographic changes, but 2010 marked a huge shift to Republican representation in both the state legislature and Congress (we went from an even Republican/Democrat split in Congress to a Republican majority, and the Democratic minority in the state legislature became so small that they couldn’t even act as a speed bump to Republican legislation).

    While Arizona did go to Clinton in 1996, the only time it’s voted for a Democratic president in the last 10 presidential elections.

    Arizona’s registered voters as of June 2, 2012 were:

    Republicans: 1,130,164 (35.9%)

    Independent and Other: 1,041,523 (33.1%)

    Democrats: 946,974 (30.1%)

    Libertarian: 22,272 (0.7%)

    Green: 4,872 (0.2%)

    Americans Elect: 8 (0.00025%)

    Both Republican and Democratic registrations have been declining over the years and Independent registrations have grown, probably as much because of the ability to vote in state elections in the party primary of choice as due to dissatisfaction with the two mainstream parties.

  • Based on the number of people on the internets who swear they’re voting 3rd party, you’d think that 3rd parties would be taking at least 20% of the vote. They typically get less than 1%. I don’t know if this is because these people aren’t too serious about their intentions, or if they’re just really good at hogging the oxygen and making themselves look far more numerous than they really are.

    At any rate, liberal dissatisfaction with the Dems and threats to defect happen every 4 years and I’ve gotten used to the idea that it will never stop, and that the particulars of the Dem candidate don’t much matter, as he will always serve as a foil against which people can signal their liberal bona fides and voice their grievances. It’s not even worth arguing about.

    I’ll just say this: There is no issue on which the more “progressive” outcome could not be best served by having fewer Republicans. Whatever it is you care about, on whatever issue the President has disappointed you, you could immediately improve the situation by shifting the party affiliation of about 10-20% of the Congress, and this would be vastly more effective than hectoring the Pres or threatening to vote 3rd party. Why people don’t get this I’m not really sure, but it seems to harken back to the whole thing about blaming the Dems for the financial crisis, the Iraq war, the deficit, etc., because they didn’t stop the Republicans. Liberals seem to regard Republicans as natural disasters that you have to clean up after, not as morally accountable human beings who get voted into office. Heck, even the Republicans think this.

  • typecaster

    …bad things like continuing the snowballing trend to allow for more and more power to be exhumed by the executive branch.

    My fantasy Ghod, those bastards are so hungry for power that they’ll dig it up out of the ground and steal it from the formerly living! That’s both appalling, and really kinda icky. Is there an element of necromancy involved in this process? Or is it more about the gold teeth?

    On the other hand, it is quite disturbing to see how much power is being assumed by the Executive branch with no hint of protest from the other two branches.

  • reynoldhall

    Well, as for pandering to the religious right:

    http://www.raptureforums.com/forum/end-times-politics/66952-hallelujah-dems-have-finally-found-god.html

    http://www.raptureforums.com/forum/end-times-politics/66937-democrats-put-god-back-recognise-jerusalem-capital.html

    -second comment on the second thread:

    they only did it to try and save face….their core beliefs are still the same

    Why bother with those clowns?

  • johnhodges

    Cthulu for President-

    when you are tired of voting for the lesser of two evils.

    Alternatively, pursue the long process of educating the American people about Proportional Representation, in the hope that within your children’s lifetime we will see the voting rules changed in a way that will allow a genuine multiparty system.

  • No amount of proportional voting will make third-parties viable. It’s a simple mathematical law. It requires parties willing to take on the lower rungs of government, and be regional in effect. It requires some sort of parliamentary

    system that awards seats proportionally to parties, not individuals.

    And I can’t stress this enough: No amount of ‘not voting’ will influence the election.

    The number of voters willing to opt for someone to the left of a centrist when a centrist is available is vanishingly small. For example in the CA primary this year, only about 8% of voters chose a candidate to the left of Sen. Feinstein. She got 49% of the vote. The remainder was to her right. In California, where it is very safe to vote for who you want.

    There just isn’t the pressure to move the party to the left without Primary votes.

    But there is a large pool of people willing to vote Republican and they will win if not opposed.