A lot of my friends and family assume I will vote Democratic come hell or high water. Most times that’s true, not because I am loyal to the party, but because most times it’s the Democratic candidate whose views most closely mirror my own. But in 2012, barring some unforeseen development, I intend to throw away my vote on some random third party rather than award it to Barack Obama. I have made this decision for a number of reasons:
1) Obama was responsible for the single greatest missed opportunity in the past century of American politics. Not since FDR has a US president enjoyed a majority the size Obama was given in 2008. He could have used those two years to make real, long-term, permanent changes in the way this country works. Instead, he bowed and scraped to the loony right wing, trying desperately to win their approval and sacrificing principle after principle, opportunity after opportunity, to do so. And what did he get for it? The GOP hates him more every day and the party as a whole has made it clear that Obama‘s support for an idea equals a sure-fire rejection of it by the Republicans. Obama could support Mom and apple pie and the GOP would condemn both. So now, three years in, we have lost our super-majority and what do we have to show for it? A health care law that was a cave-in to the right (all for the sake of ONE Republican vote in ONE house of Congress), no meaningful environmental policy improvement, no improved energy policy changes and no other major items from the base of the Democratic party.
2) Obama has utterly failed to lead. A leader knows what must be done and then, instead of constantly caving in to his opponents, he takes his message to the people and explains it, makes them understand why we need what we need, then makes it happen. Obama has shown that not only is he incapable of leading and shaping opinion: he isn’t even capable of executing on policies that the majority of Americans already want. Take the millionaire surcharge. The vast majority of Americans support helping to balance the budget by increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans, but Obama has consistently failed to get it done, even when he enjoyed a huge Congressional majority.
3) Obama has failed to be creative and free-thinking, instead bowing to (flawed, failed) conventional wisdom on matters such as taxation and stimulus spending. By accepting the GOP’s false premise that lower taxes=growth, for example, he has doomed us to repeat this failed Reagan/Bush strategy yet again. It led to nowhere but deficits every other time it was tried; the same is happening again on his watch. The fact is that America prospers the most when we have balanced budgets and a more redistributive tax system with high marginal rates. When we cut taxes on the wealthy and money sits in the hands of the idle rich while the middle class shrinks and deficits balloon, we are all worse off.
4) I am tired of what amounts to a Hobson’s choice of giving my vote to the less incompetent of two candidates. My vote may be wasted if cast for some third candidate, but at least I won’t be rewarding a system which forces America to choose between the lesser of two idiots, as is almost certain to be the case in 2012.
I believe that voting is a sacred duty of all people in a democracy, so while America still has one (and don’t assume it always will), I will continue to vote. But until we get worthwhile candidates for the presidency, I am making a different choice and saying no to the Democratic party.