All you Twice Cooked readers out there in the United States: Tuesday is election day. So go vote. If you are a citizen of the United States, voting is neither just your right, nor just your privilege — it is your patriotic duty. Voting in elections is not the only way that we Americans express devotion to our country, but it is the key way. All that other stuff we do in the name of patriotism — national service, paying taxes, etc. — is all in the name of preserving our ability to choose our own leaders. So wouldn’t it be a great shame if we were to forgo that privilege?
Come Tuesday — drive or get a ride, run, walk, or shamble down to your local polling place, and cast a ballot. Because seriously.
And if you don’t know where your polling place is, that’s no excuse. This year, Google has provided a handy polling place lookup tool to let you easily and conveniently find out just that.
Now, with all that said — endorsement time. I have thought long and hard about whether I could bring myself to endorse either of this year’s presidential candidates, and though there are a lot of ways in which it pains me to do so, I feel that I must. This year’s Twice Cooked Presidential endorsement goes — tepidly, but emphatically — to the incumbent. To this guy:
I am not, as you might suspect, a strong Barack Obama supporter. I’ve written here about my admiration for Vice-President Joe Biden. But I was also serious when I wrote, a couple of weeks ago, that Obama, and his Democratic Party, are pretty terrible on a whole host of issues, from climate change, to the military, to gun control, taxes, the regulation of business, and even health care. I was serious when I wrote that there is no party of progressive ideas in the United States — only a center-right party, and a far-right, wing-nut conspiracy party.
Barack Obama is not a progressive candidate.
That said, there are three reasons why I am asking you to vote for him on Tuesday:
The first is the President himself. Though he is not the progressive that we might all like him to be, he has moved the ideological needle, insofar as it can possibly be moved, back from the right, toward the political center. Consistently, he has been in favor of more rights, not fewer, when it comes to issues of immigration, sexual orientation, and fair pay. In the public eye, he has come out in favor of marriage equality, he has issued executive orders to protect the children of undocumented immigrants, and he has pushed through legislation ending discrimination in the military against gays and lesbians, and in the workplace against women. While in private — or at least, so I am given to understand — groups advocating for these and other vulnerable populations have had unprecedented access within the administration.
Moreover, consistently, he has been in favor of greater fairness, not less. Though the Affordable Care Act, as it was passed, is far from perfect, it expands the availability of basic health care to a far greater number of Americans than have ever had it before. Though the Dodd-Frank financial reform law does far from enough to actually change the behavior of banks, it established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to curb the deceptive practices that led to the mortgage crisis in the first place. The President has been a supporter of unions. And he has been a defender in word, if not deed, of teachers and other public sector workers, against the scurrilous attacks against them from Republicans in the states.
The second reason to vote for Barack Obama on Tuesday is the other guy. And his running mate. And the rest of the Republican Party, too. Mitt Romney, based on his own remarks, is in favor neither of more rights nor greater fairness. In private, as you probably all know by now, he told one group of donors:
There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. … And so my job is not to worry about those people—I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.
Not too long before that, fully in view of the public, he told a CNN reporter, quite frankly, that he is not concerned about the very poor.
He regrets those words today. He insists that he has been misquoted or misunderstood. But based on his other public pronouncements, and based on the way in which his own tax plan would significantly redistribute wealth away from the bottom and toward the top, his meaning is pretty clear: that his true constituents are his friends who own football teams and NASCAR franchises, that the welfare of “job creators” (read: people who can hire contractors to install car elevators in their second homes) trumps the welfare of workers, and that the senior citizens and active-duty military personnel who, in no small part, make up that forty-seven percent of non-taxpayers would, in a Romney administration, simply be out of luck.
And if he is not in favor of fairness in that regard, it is all the more true in terms of health care, immigration, gay rights, and women’s rights. He is on record, consistently over the course of his campaign, promising to repeal the Affordable Care Act — a piece of legislation based on his own (successful) health care reform project in Massachusetts. He is in favor of an immigration policy that he calls self-deportation — a term that began as a joke in the 1990s, but that has become, very seriously, the credo that we should make it so unpleasant for undocumented immigrants to live in the United States that they throw in the towel and leave. He has come out in favor of Arizona’s draconian immigration laws, in favor of defending the (clearly unconstitutional) Defense of Marriage Act in the courts, and against the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. And though he has been asked a number of times in a number of different venues, he cannot seem to decide whether he is in favor or against fair pay for women.
Finally, the third reason I would ask you to vote for Barack Obama on Tuesday is the Courts. Part and parcel of the Republican platform is the appointment of judges, at all levels, who would be friendly to a lax separation between church and state, and hostile to the right to privacy — to abortion, to protections from surveillance, to limits on law enforcement, etc. In his first term, through his Supreme Court picks, Barack Obama has maintained the (exceedingly delicate) ideological judicial balance. And with at least one more foreseeable vacancy in the next four years, a President Romney could be devastating to that (already right-leaning) status quo.
Are there other candidates who I would prefer to see in the office of the President? Hypothetically, yes. I would prefer a candidate with more conviction, more willingness to fight rather than compromise on important details. I would prefer a candidate who supported truly universal healthcare, who was less bellicose, who was more concerned about the poor.
But while such a candidate does exist in the race — while I might prefer to see a President Jill Stein — I recognize that a vote for the sort of candidate I might actually really want is also a vote for Mitt Romney. Anything that splits the vote at the left end of the Democratic party has the potential to ensure a Republican victory. And by voting for a candidate who represents more of my convictions, I might lose the opportunity to have any of them represented at all.
And so I am encouraging you — as I said, tepidly but emphatically — to go out and vote for Barack Obama, who is by a very wide margin the lesser of two evils.
But even if you don’t listen to me — even if you decide you prefer the other guy — my main message to you is the same: come Tuesday, no matter who you’re voting for, go out and vote!