Too many people whose intelligence I respect are starting to tell me that they are not voting in this election because the political parties are the same: Obama and Romney are cut from the same cloth; they are both in bed with corporate interests; they both support clandestine operations; neither of them cares about the 99%. My friends say they are tired of having their vote taken for granted and then having that vote rendered meaningless because nothing really changes.
It's a peculiar conceit to think that this would be the moment not to vote. These candidates are not the same, and neither are the foundations of their opposing parties. And to say that there is no difference between Obama and Romney is to miss the day-to-day reality of the consequences of this election.
I was never an Obama advocate. I've never thought one person would be able to solve all the problems we were facing. I did not think the right-wing conservative fundamentalists would let go easily, nor that the people who thought Sarah Palin was a genuine representative of women would ever change their minds, especially in a society that's been brainwashed not to listen too deeply and not to see too clearly.
In 2008, I was simply willing to vote for whatever Democrat was the candidate, because Democrats have been the party of women, labor, color, and all the other movements for social justice. Republi¬≠cans have never taken the plight of the working person to heart. And they aren't concerned with it now.
I was raised in the '50s and '60s by what some might call rabid radicals, which means I was reared on the un¬≠derstanding of just how closely corporations control our culture‚ÄĒthe military industrial complex isn't something new. And because I was raised in a political household, I also learned quite early not to believe that most politicians have anyone's interest at heart other than their own. Nonet¬≠he¬≠less, some of our elected officials still care about their fellow humans.
I supported the Green Party until the Bush/Gore debacle. I remember all too clearly Ralph Nader's Raiders on the Today Show asking him to step out of the race in Florida, because he had promised to do just that if the race looked close. He had promised to do just that if the race looked close. I'm repeating this on purpose so that there's no confusion about Nader and his party ‚ÄĒ they are no different from the others.
If you insist on the conceit of non-participation, then I suggest you adopt someone who will suffer from the consequences of your apathy. Bring a senior citizen, a family, an infant, a teenager, or someone on disability home with you to live. If the Republicans win, those people who require social services to survive will have to live somewhere ‚ÄĒwhy not with you? But even if Obama wins, bring someone home to live with you so you can participate as an active citizen in the everyday needs of other citizens. So you can come to terms with the necessity of voting to keep social services alive. The survival needs of so many are so challenged right now that it is impossible to imagine that we will ever be able to help everyone, especially if the smartest, most thoughtful, and most idealistic among us decide not to vote because it's time to demonstrate their dissatisfaction.
I am as dissatisfied as you, but silence is not the solution. Martin Luther King, Jr., said we would remember the silence of our friends because silence is historically misunderstood to be consent. Not voting is the greatest silence of all. And this is not the time to consent to lies, ignorance and bigotry.