We can’t achieve positive progress by staying home when things don’t go our way

presobamaIn running a Facebook page that tends to be center-left/independent politically, I come into contact with people from all edges of the political spectrum. All too often, I see the common refrain of “both major parties are corrupt, both parties screw the working man, both parties are exactly the same” and so on – every single freaking day.

Let’s get something straight – both parties are not exactly the same. Sure, there’s some shared traits such as the coziness with corporate lobbyists and apparent indifference when it comes to our civil liberties, but other than a few other areas of common ground, that’s about it.

Think about it, if both parties were really the same, Texas Democrats would have rubber-stamped Rick Perry’s extreme anti-choice legislation and Wendy Davis wouldn’t have put on that amazing and courageous filibuster. If both parties were exactly the same, we wouldn’t have seen the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” nor would we have marriage equality in 13 states.

There’s always going to be people who threaten to give their vote to some obscure candidate, which is fine, or take their vote and stay home, which is asinine. I hear some say that they’re angry with President Obama because he’s been a hypocrite on marijuana or civil liberties, and you know what? I am angry with him, furious actually. But think about this – do you really think it would have been any better under John McCain or Mitt Romney? Unless you’re an establishment Republican, the answer is a resounding NO. We would probably still be in Iraq, have troops on the ground in Syria and Iran, and the Supreme Court would be even more conservative than it is now.

Barack Obama may have disappointed many of the people who voted for him, myself included, but he has bumped the political meter a little further toward the left in Washington. He has placed Justice Sotomayor and Justice Kagan on the Supreme Court bench and will likely nominate the replacement for Justice Ginsberg. Do you think they would have been nominated by McCain or Romney? We haven’t had all the progress we dreamed of when we pulled that lever in November 2008 but the alternative would have been far, far worse.

I know that many of us would have preferred to vote for Jill Stein or other candidates but their time hasn’t come yet. We still have many older and more conservative voters that cancel out the ballots of the younger and more liberal. The change we want isn’t going to come overnight, nor will it come from us simply complaining that we didn’t get the ideal candidate to vote for in a local, state or national election. Another thing to remember is that you have to run a centrist or even slightly conservative Democrat in districts gerrymandered to favor the GOP to even have a fighting chance of pulling off a victory. A candidate that would be considered a centrist or moderate in San Francisco would be viewed as a “flaming liberal” in the coal country of West Virginia or the Louisiana delta.

The needle isn’t going to move overnight and waiting for the “perfect” candidate or party to come along will only lend to further disappointment. If you don’t like the choices on the ballot, do something about it. Start at the local level and work your way up. Convince someone you want to see represent you to run, or if all else fails, throw your hat into the ring. Stop complaining and get involved. We’ll get there eventually, but not with your ass on the couch.

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  • CJ

    Right on ! You nailed it.

  • Denise

    Exactly!!!!

  • ReeO

    Nice rant, but true. Speaking for those who have spent their lives on the forefront of politics, economics, and activism, it begins on the couch – reading. Lazy minds get their news from headlines, memes, and television. Hot-witted pundits splash quick statements across message boards and social media sites, but little of it gets past the picture of the kittens found in an alley. Take the article today about a child bringing a gun to school. He is 11-years-old. I read the article. Nowhere does the article address the most important question in any conversation or written text – “WHY.” Why did he feel threatened enough to bring a gun: and why did he particularly fell obliged to threaten that one girl? What relationship does she have to him? Is she his bully? He needs counseling. But does she need an old fashioned trip to the woodshed in order to understand that bullying is a no-no? Oh, I forgot … she now needs victims counseling. There are a myriad of questions to be asked here but the lazy-mind grabs onto “gun violence in schools,” and “gun-control.” Why do children kill teachers? After working in the school system and witnessing the gang mentality used by teachers to control vocal students; who in turn use these tactics in their social lives, there is no mystery to me.
    The dialogue ends with the resulting action.We start a campaign. We march for anti-bullying laws for children but leave the real culprits to utilize these laws.
    The law does not pick up with the end result. If it did, George Zimmerman would be in jail right now. So why do we try to macro-manage a complete mess instead of asking the WHYs until there is a coherent solution.
    If you have spent anytime around the politics of local government, it screams collusion. In indigent areas, the politicians insult the constituents (too ignorant to notice) and print out a bogus award for their puppets who round up the fools. Those truly concerned retire to write in the hopes that the younger generation is literate enough to move beyond this trend. Most, and I mean most, of the untalented become parasites in this smoldering pot of social injustice, institutional racism, and classism; so we wait until they die out and a new generation of talented individuals take their place with technology, real leadership, and ingenuity. This is our hope. No, we are not sheep. No, we are not die hard martyrs that have nothing to do but die for opportunist. So insult the couch potatoes. We of the Civil Rights Era know of real struggle and real action. When we see action, we get off of the couch; bat in hand as my mom would say. When we see crap, we educate our children, support our indigent, grow socially, intellectually, and economically so that we can raise a generation, not floundering under the next parade coming through our town, but living as functioning human-beings that are going to scare the hell out of the next parasite that come through our community; Conservative or Liberal. This is what we deal with on the local level. The lonely, elderly, and ignored can have the seats of Congress and the parade grounds for now. Their time is coming to a close. So march on.

    • JamesKelso

      “does she need an old fashioned trip to the woodshed in order to understand that bullying is a no-no?” Yea, beat the bulling out of her.

  • Nick

    Sounds like more apologist bullshit to me. I did vote for Jill Stein, you know why her time hasn’t come yet? Because people like you think the democrats will somehow get off the corporate wagon and support the working man once again. I am also not buying this “The democrats are the lesser of two evils” argument anymore. The lessor of two evils is still evil.

    Also as a gay man, I watched for years as the dems winked at the LGBT with one eye – then got elected and did nothing. Only when polls indicated 50% majority support did they do the right thing and support us. This is one thing only; Cowardice. I am not buying your support the dems because they will support the oppressed when it is politically expedient argument either.
    You have forever lost me to the true progressive parties.

  • jeczaja

    The best organized wins. Over and over again. Might be good to work WITH that truth.

  • Lie_Buster

    Let’s get one thing straight. Both parties are EXACTLY the same. So who is this author kidding. 100% – not 99.9 or 95 – but 100% supports the psychopathic, genocidal, racial supremacist Israel. Both are equally nice to the devil. The USA is not a democracy, but needs to give the outward appearance that democracy actually matters. Hence Democrats (Tweedle Dee) and Republicans (Tweedle Dum). Mr & Mrs. Dee & Dum put forth the Patriot Act, voted for war in Iraq, pledge allegiance to Israel, huff and puff at Venezuela, Russia and Iran, love Monsanto, love totalitarianism. It matters not which devil sits in the oval office. The same evil deeds will be done.