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Seven reasons why liberals and progressives must vote

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Smart v. Stupid

Seven reasons why liberals and progressives must vote

  • Mario Piperni, used by permission

According to polls, many of President Obama's 2008 supporters are dissatisfied with his progress. Others are unhappy about the economy. Still others say they’re “turned off” by politics. And some want to send a message that they won’t tolerate compromise. So some Americans are inclined to just stay home.

Sorry, but that’s not the hand you’ve been dealt. Your choice in this election is to vote – or go backward. Here are seven compelling reasons to cast your ballot on Tuesday:

1. Right-wing reactionaries want to return us to an earlier, uglier time

Their stated goals are to repeal health care and financial reform – and to make Barack Obama a one-term president. But the radical right intends to move the country even further backward.

Not content with simply undoing the last two years, they want to privatize Social Security, handing your annuity to the financial sector. (Yes, they’re against “bail outs” but apparently all for “bail ins.”) They want to hand Medicare to the insurance lobby, another “bail in.” And they want to slice away our social safety net, because – as they argue – anyone who falls by the wayside deserved it. That includes your sister or niece or cousin or mom, because the safety net primarily catches women and children who’ve been abandoned by their husbands and fathers.

But wait, there’s more! Reactionary candidates say they will eliminate the Department of Education, eliminate a woman’s right to choice, and declare a holy war with Islam. They want to marry church to state. They want to make racism OK again and make homosexuality not OK again. Hello, 1936.

2. They are bigots and bullies

There is no shortage of evidence that the “Tea Party” includes scores of bigots and bullies. Over two thousand YouTube videos document Tea Party racism. (The mashup you must see is in the sidebar.) Not convinced? Recently, the Washington Post surveyed Tea Party leaders and, “Eleven percent said that Obama's race, religion or ethnic background was either a "very important" or "somewhat important" factor in the support their group has received.” The Tea Party attracts bigots like a dead possum attracts maggots.

Bully candidates run the gamut from Alaska’s Joe Miller, whose bodyguards handcuffed a reporter for asking about his lying; to Rand Paul’s campaign staffer who stomped on a woman, then demanded her apology; to Christine O’Donnell’s threat to sue a radio reporter because she didn’t like an interview. Not since the Commie-scare 1950s have candidates tried so much to use force to shape image.

These folks want to make the American culture look something like high school. Or maybe a 1950s segregated middle school.

3. You don’t get to pick your choices, only your choice

If you don’t like how little forward we’ve gone, you’ll like going backwards even less. Elections are much too simple for nuance, no matter how principled, no matter how well-reasoned. There is no, “Hey Barack, you better try harder” box on the ballot. There are only two polarized choices. One, the tide comes in. The other, it goes out. A voter’s job is to put on that flesh-colored nose clip and jump in, even if the water is a little brackish.

4. You ought to endorse the principle of policy over politics

When George Bush cut taxes, he sent everyone a letter saying he was going to send a check. Then he sent everyone a check. It cost millions of our dollars for him to promote himself this way. But it was good politics.

When President Obama gave a tax cut in the stimulus bill, he reduced how much is withheld from our paychecks. He trusted us to be smart enough to get the point, and saved millions of our dollars for it. But it was bad for politics.

If we don’t reward policy over politics, we have only ourselves to blame when the next guy chooses the waste our money for his benefit.

5. A Republican controlled Congress doesn’t split the power, it gives it away

Currently, the Executive Branch is in the hands of Democrats. And – someone needs to say it – the Supreme Court is firmly controlled by right-wing zealots. At least two justices appear to have colluded with billionaire funders of right-wing, front groups. One may have taken a bribe.

The current Supreme Court is partisan. So the balance of power lies in Congress. This includes the power to grind government to a halt.

6. You can make trying to buy an elected office into a bad investment

Thanks to awful decision-making by the zealot Court, corporate money – much of it foreign – is making this the most costly race in history.

In several races, rich people, like Linda McMahon and Meg Whitman, are trying outright to buy seats. In others, front groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are attempting to con you with deceptive advertising. Whether these tactics continue is in the hands of voters.

We can cast our vote for democracy by voting against these high bidders and big spenders.

7. You can prevent Tea Party gridlock

If you vote, then the Senate and House may remain divided, but without a big win the right-wing reactionaries are done. If you sit this one out, look for even more gridlock, hundreds of politically-motivated subpoenas (already promised by Congressman Darryl Issa), lots of Vince Foster-style phony political scandals, and even more decline in the daily lives of ordinary people.

So vote – or go backwards. It is still your country. It is still your vote. And it still is your choice.

Jimmy Zuma splits his time between Washington, D.C. and Tucson. He writes the online opinion journal, Smart v. Stupid. He spent 5 years in Tucson in the early ‘80s, when life was a little slower, swamp coolers were a little more plentiful, Tucson’s legendary music scene was in full bloom, and the prevailing work ethic was “don’t - unless you have to.”

“Eleven percent said that Obama’s race, religion or ethnic background was either a “very important” or “somewhat important” factor in the support their group has received.”

— Washington Post survey of local Tea Party leaders


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