Making the Perfect the Enemy of the Best We Can Get in Presidential Politics 2012

I would love Green Party candidate Jill Stein to be President since I agree with almost all her proposed policies and programs. I would also like myself to be President because I like all my proposed policies and programs. Here’s the problem. Jill Stein and I have an equal chance of being elected President. That chance, of course, would be zero.

So why would anyone engage in the futile act of voting for Jill Stein, or no less usefully, writing in their own name for President? Five reasons are usually offered.

First, of course, is the well-worn cliché that there is no difference between Romney and Obama; therefore there’s no reason to vote for either one of them. That is just patently false. Here are just a few obvious differences:

• Obama would keep Obamacare, and Romney would repeal it. Romney’s win would mean that tens of millions of low wage workers who would otherwise have health insurance would not get it. Their only health care provider would be the emergency room. Many of them would die of diseases diagnosed too late for them to get the medical care that would save them.

• Romney would voucherize Medicare, making it unaffordable for millions of seniors. He would also do everything in his power to privatize, i.e., destroy, social security;

• Romney would raise taxes on working people, cut them for the rich;

• Romney would appoint judges intent on repealing Roe v. Wade, and eliminating affirmative action;

• Romney would attack the ability of unions to exist;

• Romney budgets, if they follow the lead of his running mate and other House Republican leaders, would decimate food stamps, education funding, and federal aid to cities of all sorts;

• Romney would make the EPA into something as fierce as a big slice of pumpkin pie.

We also are told that Obama is just a corporate tool, just like Romney. I have sympathy for this argument. Obama should have broken up the big banks, but instead created a regulatory regime that requires vigorous and committed agencies to enforce. Such agencies, however, don’t really exist. Obama’s Justice Department has prosecuted no major Wall Street CEO’s for their rampant fraud and self-dealing that created the Great Recession. He’s done little to make banks reduce the mortgage debt of below water homeowners.

But Obama also cut big banks out of the student loan program, enraging them, and saving students millions. He pushed for and signed credit card reform, eliminating major abuses. He pushed for and signed into law the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the brainchild of Elizabeth Warren. Obamacare forces insurance companies to spend more on health care, less on administrative overhead and profits.

In short, Obama has a mixed record on corporate regulation. Romney? It’s clear that as a child of Wall Street, Romney would do none of the things that we wish Obama would have done, and repeal everything Obama did that was worthwhile.

Then, of course, there are the social issues. Obama supports gay marriage, mandatory health insurance coverage for birth control, and the Dream Act. Romney, not. Indeed, as noted above, Romney would appoint judges who would repeal Roe v. Wade; with Robert Bork as his advisor on judicial appointments, a Romney Supreme Court might well annul the right to privacy altogether. If you like sodomy laws, you will love Mitt Romney’s judicial appointments.

In short, it’s just ludicrous to say there is no difference between Romney and Obama. Even if one views the choice to be between a lesser of two evils, it seems to kind of be a no-brainer to prefer less evil. And there would be a lot less evil with Obama.

The second argument for voting for a good person who has absolutely no chance to win is that even if he’s better than Romney, Obama is just not progressive enough. Obama has not pushed for single payer health insurance, an end to big banks or fracking. Furthermore he has failed to prosecute war criminals, has continued the war on drugs, fires drones at innocent people, and does other stuff that we just don’t like. But here’s the thing. We cannot elect someone who would do any of those things differently. We need to pursue better policies in those areas, but we cannot, in this upcoming real-life election, accomplish them at the ballot box. All we can accomplish by letting Romney win is to keep millions of people from getting health insurance on account of the fact that we can’t elect someone who would prosecute Dick Cheney. How grown up is that?

The third argument to vote for Stein follows from the second: “my conscience won’t permit me to vote for Obama given his horrible civil liberties record or war criminal record, or [insert your own grievance here.]” So to that I just have to ask: Does your conscience allow you to cast a vote that would help someone win who would require women to use coat-hangers for an abortion? And then might put them in jail? Or someone who would require poor people to use emergency rooms as their only source of health care? My conscience tells me no.

Next, people say, “we must teach the Democrats a lesson.” To which I say: “been there, done that.” I’m not arguing that the Green Party helped elect George Bush (although it probably did.) I am arguing that voting for Ralph Nader once or twice obviously has not taught the Democratic Party any observable lesson, or at least not the right lesson. (See section on all the things Obama is doing wrong.) So you think that this time will be different? Why? Anyone proposing that progressives vote for Stein must show why the risk of electing Romney in all his greater evil is worth it because of the prospects that this will cause the Democrats to move to the left in the face of all the evidence to the contrary.

The last argument I hear is that we must build the Green Party as an alternative to the two corporate-owned parties. But again, where is the evidence that casting a completely ineffective vote for President will help build the Green Party? Especially since with Republicans having wall-to-wall power in Washington, it is practically guaranteed that it will be harder for working people, poor people, minorities and urban-dwellers to vote. And that corporations will have greater control over the electoral process than ever. And that labor unions may be on the verge of extinction. Where is the Green Party going to get their votes?

So that’s it folks. I really want to vote for Jill Stein for President even more than I want to vote for myself. But I won’t; I can’t. If you don't want to risk the election of the most right wing government in a century, you won't either.

as far as tax increases on working people go

is this correct? A neighbour of mine makes about 35 k a year but his kids are grown and he has no mort int so he basicallly has no deductions. He is lucky to work for a good co and the co pays for one of those so called "cadillac" health plans. The co owners told him that under obamacare, in 2014 he has to declare half the value of that plan as income. That's a huge tax increase, if the info is correct.he is planning on voting Gop for the first time in his life, if this info is correct. Firstly, is it correct and second, if it is accurate how do the Dems justify such a large tax increase on a working guy.?

No one has to pay a tax on their Obamacare health care benefits

Your friend has been told a bunch of bull by his boss. The tax on Cadillac plans will kick in in 2018. And it will be a tax on insurers, not beneficiaries. It's hoped by then that various cost-saving initiatives will be in place that might enable some of these high cost plans to be cheaper. But, in any event, although it may effect coverage options, the Cadillac tax will not do anything like bringing half the value of the plan into the taxable income of insured employees.

Here's an article that goes into depth on the Cadillac tax, its purposes and its effects.

The bottom line for me

is that given the tax cuts Romney will try to pass as president, the pressure will be on him to find some way to affect the deficit. The only politically viable way for him to do that will be to cut Medicaid.

Poor and disabled people (Medicaid recipients) are easy targets, and the price to pay politically for targeting them is relatively light.

That in itself is enough reason for me to vote for Obama.

Daniel Ellsberg agrees . . .

Here's a great article by Daniel Ellsberg spelling out why it's imperative that progressives do everything they can to stop Romney, which, of course, necessitates re-electing Obama.

Phyllis Bennis, no mushy moderate, gets it too . . .

Read why in detail here. She sums up the reason we can't let Romney take power this way:

Elections don’t change the world—only people’s movements do. But elections can make our work of building movements impossible—and that’s not a risk I’m willing to take.

Neither should that be a risk any of the rest of us should take either. We take it if we vote for anyone other than Obama.

Even Chomsky would vote for Obama

Charles Rangel longed for a Draft to resurrect a peace movement

Noam Chomsky if he lived in PA would have to think it plausible that Obama could have lost an extremely close vote in PA but not be overwhelmed elsewhere, where is a scenario map that went that way?

I was worried about Romney foreign policy and diplomatic incompetence, even managing to offend the Brits. But voted Green for President and Lib for Treasurer.

Domesticity a few call for a draft in order to make young men want to be antiwar. But elsewhere unions and environmental groups go to sleep under Democratic Presidents. President Obama has an (I think an unintentional) knack for putting progressives to sleep than any other President in history. Let's get back into business of ending the two party system before it's too late.

If Casey lost it would have been an attack on the planet earth as a liveable environment. I cry about Kathy Boockvar and wish Young Philly Politics would have been in the position of pressuring the Green Party to work in her behalf.

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