(By the way: This week’s podcast will be up on Wednesday, so McAsherson and I can include our reactions to tomorrow’s election. So be back Wednesday night for the special sixty-minute Election Aftermath episode of The Snark-Gap Transmission!)
Now then . . .
My learned and well considered pre-election day advice to you
Two years ago, on the eve of the mid-term election, I wrote a brief voter’s guide, passing on a few suggestions not for who you should vote for, but for how you should vote. Looking over it again this morning, I find it all to still be good advice. Here are the suggestions I gave in 2006, with new embellishments to better apply them to the big vote tomorrow:
You don’t have to vote. This is still true. I still believe this. Voting is a right, not an obligation, and if anyone ever tells you that if you don’t vote, you don’t have a right to complain, tell them to go fuck themselves. The ability to choose not to participate in the electoral process is an essential part of the right to vote.
That being said, you really ought to vote. One of the most repugnant parts of any major political campaign is voter suppression. Conservative/Republican mouthpieces like Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, lately even Dennis Miller, have been saying things on their radio shows like, “If you’re voting for McCain, go vote! If not, stay home.” What a vile, antidemocratic idea. I’m voting for Barack Obama tomorrow. If you’re voting for Obama, too, then get your ass out to your polling place tomorrow and do it. If you’re voting for John McCain, then get your ass out to your polling place and do it. Whichever guy wins more votes gets to be the President of the United States. That’s the way it works. To discourage someone from voting because it gives your guy a better chance at winning is disgraceful. Vote! Vote for McCain, vote for Barr, vote for that nutcase Chuck Baldwin, vote for that other nutcase Cynthia McKinney, vote for poor old Ralph Nader — vote!
I mean, you know . . . if you want.
Don’t choose the lesser of two evils. I’ll catch shit for this, I know, but I don’t think the choice between Obama and McCain is one of these. Obama’s been my guy since before he was even running, for Christ’s sake. No lesser evil there. And despite it all, I still admire John McCain immensely. I admired him a fuck of a lot more before this year, but I still have a lot of good things to say about him. If Barack hadn’t gotten the Democratic nomination, and McCain hadn’t picked an absolute disgrace of a running mate, I would have voted for McCain this time. Obama and McCain are the two finest presidential candidates to run against each other in my lifetime. I hope like hell Barack wins, but if McCain pulls an upset, I’ll wish him the best of luck and hope like hell he doesn’t die.
If you disagree with me, and you think Barack and John are a couple of evil bastards, why choose either one? Don’t choose the lesser of two evils. That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Don’t vote for someone evil just because you judge him to be less evil than the other guy. Would you vote for a guy who murdered four people over a guy who murdered five people? Fuck no. In that scenario, you might even vote for Bob Barr. Might.
Vote for a minor party candidate. I think this one speaks for itself. I’m voting for a Democrat on the top of the ticket, so color me Hypocritical Hot Magenta. Generally, though, I favor voting for candidates outside the two major parties. The two party system does not serve the people, and must be smashed before the government can return to being an instrument of the people, rather than some alien institution. So vote for those Greens, Libertarians, Constitutions, whatever. I don’t want them to run things, but I want them, and a lot more I didn’t mention, to have seats at the table. It’s called governing by consensus. Ever hear of it?
Vote against the incumbent. You bet your ass. I’ve written many times, and said many more times to my increasingly impatient and dispirited girlfriend, that term limits would fix most of the problems in our government. But since that’s never going to happen, we in the electorate have to take matters into our own hands. Vote against the incumbent, whenever possible, every time, regardless of party affiliation. Don’t support career politicians, don’t give your vote to the same people who have been running things for the last thirty or forty years. Vote for someone else. And if there is no incumbent running in a particular race, at least vote against the incumbent party. Throw in some fresh ingredients and stir, because the soup tastes like shit.
Use the Write-In Option. Not every state allows write-in votes. Thankfully, Maryland does. I can hardly wait to vote for Ashley. I think she’d make a great Judge of the Orphan’s Court, don’t you?
Vote for who you think should win, not who you think will win. This is a big one for me. Vote your conscience. Vote based on who you think will do the best job, not on the probable outcome of the race. “Oh, that Ralph Nader cost Al Gore votes in 2000, it’s his fault Bush won, people who voted for Nader are all shits.” Fuck that. Hear me on this: Fuck that. This isn’t gambling. You’re not playing the ponies. You’re electing your representatives in government. Look at who is running, and vote for who you want to win. Employ no other strategy. Anything else is dishonest. The politicians are dishonest enough without the voters joining in.
So those are all still good suggestions, if I may say so. Here, briefly, are a few more to consider for tomorrow:
Vote for science. Check your newspaper, check your local election guides. If someone is running for your school board, or your city council, or whatever, who supports teaching creationism in public schools, vote for someone else.
Vote for human rights. California’s Proposition 8 isn’t the only referendum on same-sex marriage this year. There’s also Proposition 102 in Arizona, and Amendment 2 in Florida, which would ban same-sex marriage in those states. Prop. 8 is actually titled “Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry” on the ballot. Vote against these initiatives. Furthermore, vote against candidates running for any office who oppose recognizing same-sex marriage and gay rights. This is the great civil rights issue of this generation. Vote on the right side.
See beyond your own interests. Maybe you’re doing great in life, maybe you’re not. Keep the interests of others in mind when you decide who and what to vote for. If there’s a tax increase on the ballot to pay for public transportation, for instance, or increase funding to public schools, or repair roads in neglected areas, or fun public housing, don’t just vote against it because you don’t want to pay more taxes. Take a minute. Consider it. If you can afford to pay a little more to make things a little easier on those less fortunate than you, why not do it?
Vote to bring the troops home. Check out the men and women running for your district’s seat in the House of Representatives. Check out your candidates for the U.S. Senate, if any are up this time. Vote for the ones who favor ending the war in Iraq and bringing combat troops back to the U.S. It’s long overdue. Let’s finally do it. Bring ‘em home.