The Lesser of Two Evils:

posted Aug 4, 2012, 2:16 PM by Steven Bailey   [ updated Aug 5, 2012, 9:14 PM ]
What American Occupiers should consider before deciding on calling for a Presidential Voting Strike.

On many overarching issues it is likely going to make little difference who we vote for or if we vote in the presidential election of 2012. Neither Candidate will do any thing to address the Military Industrial Complex, mass corporate and government corruption, American Imperialism, severe economic inequality, the restoration of our many lost civil liberties, campaign financing, the “two party” political monopoly, corporate consolidation of power, lobbyist influence, the Electoral Collage, or even hold accountable the criminals who perpetrated the greatest financial crime in American history. On these issues the two party establishment candidates are very similar and there is little point in voting for the lesser of two evils.

It is imperative that we call attention to this and bring it to the forefront of political debate in our country. Occupy calling a Voting Strike is a way to do that. It has the potential to be effective to that end.

That being said, on a great number of other issues there are vast fundamental differences between the two candidates.  Let’s consider a few of them, as these differences constitute the basis of determining the lesser of two evils.

Health Care:

Around 45,000 Americans die each year due to a lack of health insurance restricting their access to care. Millions more suffer needlessly with treatable illnesses. 62% of all personal bankruptcies are the result of medical expenses. Health Care Is a Human Right and the Affordable Care Act falls far short of that. It is a first step though.  It has and will help a great many of us. It extends Medicaid, expands coverage, adds preventative care, stops exclusion of pre-existing conditions, eliminates coverage caps, and many more positive steps. It will save tens of thousands of lives each year. Our vote in this election will determine whether it is appealed and millions lose the care they are finally receiving.

LGBTQ Rights

Our LGBTQ community has struggled valiantly for so long to gain the rights too many of us take for granted. They fought through being shunned, ridiculed, denied, raped, tortured, murdered, and blamed. The amazing story of their struggle moves and motivates not only many of us but history it’s self. We are so fortunate to have the passion and experience of many activists from their movement to help shape and guide us. I consider it an honor to know each of them and be able to help them in their struggle for civil rights. The last progressive administration took what many consider to have been a sickening first step toward decriminalizing LGBTQ military personnel. This progressive administration has removed the policy of Don’t Ask / Don’t Tell and made it possible for our LGBTQ community to openly serve. Very recently the current president came around to right and made a public statement in support same sex marriage. Although the strides they have made are great the fight continues all can be undone by an anti-equal rights president. Our vote in this election will determine the rights of an entire heroic people.

Immigration:

Every single individual in this country who is not full blooded Native American is here as a result of immigration. The struggle for immigrant rights is the most cyclical issue in our history. Again and Again different immigrant communities have had to struggle for rights among the established population. There is nothing more “American” than doing whatever it takes to make a better life for yourself and your family. Our immigrant community is divided into the categories of “legal” or “illegal” based on how well they fill out paper work. If you, or your parents when you were a small child, haven’t filled out the right paperwork you are not afforded the rights of a citizen and live in constant fear of deportation breaking up your family. With an executive order the president created a limited version of the Dream Act that congress was unable to enact. This gives young Americans who have lived here most their lives a hope for an open and equal future for the first time. Unfortunately everyone who applies for a work visa under the order is officially admitting “illegal” status and risking deportation if the next administration chooses to reverse the order. It is far from full immigration rights but it is a step. Our vote in this election will immediately determine the rights and possible deportation of as many as 80,000 young people.

Women’s Equality and Reproductive Rights:

The conservative War on Women is just the most recent attempt to oppress a women’s movement that is still struggling for equality. In resent years they have supported restricting contraception; cutting off funding for Planned Parenthood; state-mandated, medically unnecessary ultrasounds; abortion taxes; abortion waiting periods; forcing women to tell their employers why they want birth control, and prohibiting insurance companies from including abortion coverage in their policies. I consider the tactics of the suffrage movement’s marches, pickets and occupation of the White House to be an unacknowledged model of Occupy. Heroic women were arrested for blocking traffic, refused to pay bail, then sentenced to work houses where they were tortured and waged hunger strikes. It wasn’t until 1920 that half our population finally won the very right to vote we are considering asking them not to exorcize today. Our vote in this election will affect the rights of half our community and a movement I hope we stand in solidarity with.

The Supreme Court:

Citizens United is just a resent example of how critical the makeup of the ideological balance of the court is. As several of the progressive leaning justices may choose to retire within the next term, the next administration’s influence may continue for decades. All of the prior issues will be directly affected by the court. The court has the final say on all suites that are brought, including those against any laws that are passed, down to the municipal level. This means they have the power to overturn the votes we make throughout the entire ticket. It is imperative, at this time under this system, for the occupy movement to have as many progressive justices as possible sitting in on the court. Our vote in this election will affect the rights of every individual in our community and all the movements we stand in solidarity with.

Civil Rights:

Four years ago we came together as a progressive community, and elected the first minority president of our nation.  Overturning the majority of our country’s history we looked past the color of his skin and judged him on the merits of his message of hope and change. On January 20th, 2009 millions of us around the world wept simultaneously as he was inaugurated. Each of us wept for our own reasons. A great deal of the minority community wept not only with the hope of political unification his campaign promised, but with a hope for their own future. A hope that one day their great and terrible struggle for equality may actually be achieved. Although electing the first African American president was another huge step, the racial divide in this country is still very deep. It is clear that a vast group of people want him to fail and will do anything to bring him down. For a lot of these people the failure of the first black president will justify the bigotry that not only they hold but that of all their ancestors as well. Our vote in this election will affect the rights of every man, woman, and child in our minority communities.

As a very strong voice in our movement has pointed out “holding peoples votes hostage over wedge issues is not democracy.” I agree with this statement entirely. I also think it illustrates an unfortunate reality. There is an opposing ideology at work in this country that continually tries to oppress great numbers of people. The current system that we all agree is terribly corrupt and broken gives them vast power. It is very possible that even our generally progressive “leaders” allow this to continue just to keep us voting for them; the lesser of two evils.

The questions each of us need to answer as occupiers before we “fuck the vote”, vote, or call a voting strike are these. 

At this time can we, as individuals, afford not to pay the ransom and vote for the lesser of two evils?

I can not. Through the Affordable Care Act my own daughter is now getting the care she needs that we have not been able to afford.

At this time are we, as individuals, willing to not to pay the ransom and vote for the lesser of two evils?

I am not. I believe that it is possible that my perspective as an American born, white, male, in reasonably good health, is that of a privileged class that can afford the consequences of not voting or calling for a voting strike.

Can the communities and movements we stand in solidarity with afford not to pay the ransom and vote for the lesser of two evils?

I do not believe most of them can without major setbacks to their cause.

If we call a voting strike and the communities and movements that we stand in solidarity with don’t feel that they can afford not to pay the ransom and vote for the lesser of two evils what message does it send to them about the Occupy movement?

I worry it could give the impression that we believe that our own political statement is more important than the issues directly affecting the very communities we are fighting for. I am very concerned that calling for a voting strike will result in the affected communities turning completely away from the occupy movement.

If we decide to not call a voting strike, then what other ways can we frame an awareness campaign?

I think we could do a “Voting is the minimum” campaign.

I think the Shelby Idea, if done carefully, can send a similar message without as much risk. 


In Solidarity,

-Steve Bailey

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