After Obama got elected in 2008, I sort of fell asleep on politics. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure I have had my fair share of grandstanding these last four years- gay marriage, the death of Osama bin Laden, the arrest, prosecution and imprisonment of Tim DeChristopher, some of the more ridiculous (and terrifying) state attempts to ban abortion, the racism of pretty much EVERY law Arizona has passed in the past few years, etc. But these awarenesses are mainstream- a passive receipt of knowledge with maybe a little action, repressed frustration, and the occasional blowup of emotion when the stupidity gets to be too much. My reactions are tepid, fleeting, and shallow.
Partly this may be due to disillusionment in general with the populace. I think that happens as you get older and see more of the world. It may also be due to the fact that I've been busy with school and work and have been traveling more and seemingly have less time for everything that I used to hold on to. Mostly though, I think it's because, as a liberal, I did exactly the opposite of what I advocated in 2008: I assumed that Obama would do the right thing.
Here's what I said in 2008:
The problem is that, by declaring him [Obama] savior, we are essentially condoning this compromise for the long-term. We expect him to save us from ourselves, not acknowledging that we are creating a monster as he strives to attain that position. A mere man cannot be president. Barack Obama would never be president of the United States. He has to become an aggregate of the masses (the companies, the individuals, the 'demographics') in order to reach that spot and by the time he does it, he will have acquired all our worst characteristics in the process.
We can't give him a green light because without our voices, he will fail. Without our protests and our criticisms and our caution and our policing, he will become just another politician who got to the white house and proceeded to do a little good and a lot of harm. We can't go starry eyed on Obama because he needs us to save him from what he is becoming for our sakes.
He will disappoint. They all do. But, while he still has the capacity to listen (and I believe he does), it's important that we continue to remind him why we are voting for him, and why he has to reach a little farther and become a man again, in the most difficult job in the world.
Shit. I hate when I don't take my own advice. And fail he has, in so many ways. Illegal wiretapping that outshines even the Bush era, more "inherent" presidential powers, the junking of habeas corpus, acceleration to the slow death of labor unions, inequality, a bank bailout that fucked homeowners by trillions of dollars, and an increase in the gap between the extreme rich and the rest of the country. When he did right, (healthcare reform, getting out of Iraq, Sandy, overturning Don't Ask Don't Tell) we slumped even further into liberal stupor. Only the conservatives, injected with high doses of down-home morality, were pitching fits about Obama, and their arguments, tinged with racism and anti-intellectualism, have never held my interest.
We, as citizens, did not hold up our end of the bargain. I feel relatively confident that Obama is going to win a second term, despite the fact that it's been called a close race. It has always seemed unlikely that Romney will win. The Republican party is split, Mitt Romney is a tough sell outside the Mormon camps, and it's always difficult to oust an incumbent president. I could be wrong, but I don't think so. In fact, I fervently hope I am not wrong, because despite legitimate anger at the Obama administration, nothing has convinced me that a Romney presidency would be any better for the vulnerable populations on whom the election always makes the biggest difference: the poor.
If the healthcare law is repealed as Romney has stated is his first priority, it reads as a billions of dollars setback to our country. If more cuts are made to social programs, as Romney has promised, the people who need these services will be directly affected, even though the rest of us might financially benefit in the short-term. I don't expect to see a renegotiation of NAFTA, a rise in minimum wage, greater support of labor unions, respecting the powers of habeas corpus, limiting presidential oversight, or any of the things that are lacking in the current Obama administration. The difference is that, with Obama, he promised those things to me (in 2008 and in 2012) and I could potentially hold him accountable; Romney doesn't feel those things should be enacted in the first place. So yes, I damn well hope Obama wins. I also hope that Democrats retain the Senate and add more members to the House. And, it would be great if those people stopped bickering and actually got to work. Enough with the moralizing, enough with the finger pointing, enough with the outrage- please, please, please, just do your damn jobs. This sort of wish-making always reminds me of THIS:
However, I find myself cringing at the idea of voting for the "lesser of two evils." I mean, I did that with John Kerry back in 2004- I didn't believe he was all that amazing, but I didn't care just as long as he wasn't George W. But it leaves a bad taste in my mouth; Obama didn't do the things he said he would do. That's partly my fault, partly all of our faults, and partly his fault. If he wins this next go around, I promise I'll give a shit about how things play out and at least make some noise about them. If he doesn't win, I'll probably be yelling regardless because there will be infinitely more issues. But does he really deserve my vote? I don't think he does.
So now, staring into the void of another ballot casting, I wonder if it's time to try a different approach. Utah's has 6 electoral votes and this year, they're definitely going to Mitt Romney. If I were in a state where my vote actually mattered as to who becomes president, I would begrudgingly do my civic duty and vote for Obama. But my vote doesn't make a bit of difference in who becomes president. So perhaps, I can use that vote to voice a hope. A hope that someday America will break the iron fist of a two-party system and people like myself won't have to be compelled to support the lesser of two evils. I think this year, I'm voting for Jill Stein. I like her. I think she's got character and values that represent my interests.