I am a registered independent (actually, in Oregon, it’s termed “non-affiliated”) and have voted both parties and third party in my voting past. In fact, I’ve probably voted third party for president almost as many times as I’ve voted for one of the two major parties. There has been a push from conservatives fed up with the GOP and progressives fed up with the Democratic Party to vote third party this year. The libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson, is highly attractive for his independent stand, and the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein, stands for all the progressive ideas that Ralph Nader stood for twelve years ago. But this year is not the year I can take the chance because the stakes are so incredibly high and our country truly is at at turning point as we come out of the affects of the economic disaster brought on in the last ten years. (I admit to having been scarred by the “both parties are the same” argument that robbed Al Gore of tens of thousands of votes in 2000). It is incredibly close this year, and I actually believe that it WILL make a difference to vote for one of the two main parties.
If a third party is to actually have any power or participatory presence in our representative democracy, they can’t start with a figurehead at the top. They need to follow the GOP model of the 1970’s: infiltrate all the lower/local offices, build up to statewide offices, take over governorships and state legislatures, then get into Congress. Abraham Lincoln didn’t become a third-party president on his own. There were already masses of Republicans and Radical Republicans in state offices and the Congress and Senate by the time he got elected in 1960. In fact, he wasn’t as liberal as they were at first — the foundation of those third-party politicians were the ones who pushed the Emancipation Proclamation and moved Lincoln to become the President of ending slavery. Just running someone for president as a third party option does not create true change in our system (even if they do earn the percentage necessary to participate in debates the next time around, there STILL won’t be fundamental change until down-ballot offices are filled first). So I hope that the people who really are motivated to vote third party this year for president will also go on to put their third party candidates into more down-ballot offices leading up to the next presidential election.
Meanwhile, there are very real reasons why I am voting to re-elect the President. No, I’m not completely happy with all of his decisions. I certainly believe that he chose a Wall Street friendly economic team and his use of unmanned drones and his Afghanistan policy are extremely troubling. On the other hand, the argument that he isn’t much different than Romney is absolutely ridiculous, and THOSE are the reasons I am voting for him. He has already shown he can change and move, that he is someone who reasons through problems and considers big-picture ramifications.
My top ten reasons I’m voting to re-elect the President –because these are truly in danger in a Romney presidency:
- The Supreme Court
- Health Insurance Coverage for all Americans
- Protection of Social Security and Medicare
- Equal Pay for Women
- Protections and equality for Women’s health issues & reproductive rights
- The end of DADT and DOMA (and the support of equal marriage)
- Renewable Energy Incentives & Commitment
- Diplomacy with the rest of the world (not bullying and posturing)
- Federal Emergency Protections in times of Crisis
Also, I actually believe in a representative democracy and a federal government whose primary goal is the “General Welfare” of We The People. Electing someone who stands against that essential idea: a government of the people, for the people and by the people, makes absolutely no sense. And this year, with the race so close, voting for a third party simply does not make sense to me either.