Monday, November 5, 2012

An Endorsement (if not a vote) for Jill Stein

Cross-posted at 

I know, the title is bound to annoy people, but I'm still not sure who I will be voting for.  Of course, it won't be Romney, but I have been swayed over the past week or so to the possibility of voting for Green Party candidate, Jill Stein.

But that slightly mischaracterizes the choice.  A vote for Jill Stein isn't really a vote for "Jill Stein".  Its a protest vote.  Its a message to the democratic party that progressives aren't buying the President's assault on civil liberties, his passiveness on climate change, his indifference to the growing economic inequalities, or his slightly less bad foreign policy of endless war that may or may not involve attacking Iran ('may not' isn't an option for Romney).  Its a vote for the long haul and a tacit acceptance that the situation may worsen considerably in the interim.  In fact, for some, that may be precisely the strategy: to hope for an epic backlash once the effects of the GOP's regressive policies begin to be felt.

Josh indicated his intention to vote for Stein, and I wholly support that decision.  If Stein were an electable candidate it would be a no brainer; I agree with probably 99% of her policy positions.  Unfortunately, she doesn't stand a chance, and I live in a swing state, thus complicating my decision.  Matt Stoler's piece over the weekend made some compelling points on the value in voting for a third party, one of which is the power of resistance:
One of the more intriguing arguments in this line came from a Canadian UAW member, Joe Emersberger, who actually tried measuring the difference between recent Republican and Democratic Presidents. He noted that Ronald Reagan was the worst President for life expectancy growth, income growth of the top one percent, deunionization, and closing the racial gap in life expectancy. But the second worst – for deunionization and share of income going to the top one percent – was actually Bill Clinton, followed by Barack Obama. George Bush did substantially better than those two on these measures, and surpassed Clinton in closing the racial life expectancy gap. This is quite possibly accurate – Clinton’s changed the country with NAFTA, a policy nearly as hostile to labor rights as Reagan’s embrace of union busting. George W. Bush though faced a hostile public and a partisan Democratic opposition. 
So as is frustratingly the case, the choice for me is between a lot of pain with the hope that a message will be sent or a continuation of a little bit of pain mixed with some pleasure.

In a way it is like some wacky prisoners' dilemma scenario where its not clear who the defector and the cooperators are.  From the point of view of the third party, voting for Obama is defecting and standing in the way of progressive reforms across the board.  From the incumbents perspective, its the opposite.  And I honestly don't know where I fall in that spectrum.

I want to say I will vote for Stein, but when I walk into the polling station to 'pull the lever', my more cynical side may take over.  I'll let you know on Wednesday.

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1 comment:

  1. Update: I emerged successful in voting for Green Party candidate, Jill Stein.