In 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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