Since I have been successfully knocked off the ballot for US Senate, there have been a lot of emails/blogs back and forth about who to support in the upcoming election. A few say “stay home”, some still support “the lesser of two evils”, and some even argue for writing in my name as a protest. I am NOT going to argue for write-in votes in the upcoming elections. Not for myself, nor for anyone else. But I am going to argue, as principled peace and justice activists that we have a moral and ethical responsibility to ourselves, to our families, to our communities, and to the values for which we have rallied, marched, been arrested, and sometimes beaten NOT to vote for candidates with whom we DO NOT share common beliefs and values.
Almost without exception, Democratic and Republican candidates have consistently voted for increased war spending, will continue to support policies that kill innocent civilians in MANY nations besides Iraq and Afghanistan, and are clearly on the side that I presume, based on common activity, that most or hopefully all of us who read/write on this blog do not support.
Democratic Party candidates are willing servants of the corporate class just as are the Republicans. Democratic candidates issue flowery statements celebrating the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, and then spend tens of thousands in legal fees to keep me off the ballot AND everyone else that might be perceived as possibly “stealing” votes from them. It is an arrogant assumption on their part that those who supported candidates to the left of Democrats will automatically vote for them in the absence of their first choice. In fact, about 50% of the electorate stays home when faced with the lesser of two evils and most people in the streets are quick to say “they’re all the same”. In fact, those folks often seem more principled than so many in the progressive movement who remain trapped in the idea that one cannot “waste” a vote. Voting for something you don’t want is NOT wasting a vote, it’s making a mockery of your principles and ethics.
Now, I often hear the argument: “Well, I’m not really voting for him, I’m voting against the other one”. Do me a favor. Find a ballot box/voting booth for me that allows you to press a lever that says “I don’t agree with your policies and don’t support you, but I’m voting against your opposition”. If you’re successful, I’ll take you and 3 friends out to dinner at the best restaurant in town. I’ll even tip well. For, in fact, every vote you cast for a candidate you “don’t like” simply says to the candidate, “I support you AND your policies and want you in office so you can continue to carry out those policies.” .
Is this the message you really want to send? To support the wars, to continue corporate control of our lives, to continue the looting of our nation by banksters, the poisoning of our environment by industrial polluters?
Would you make the same choice and be able to keep a straight face if you were asked that question by the child of parents murdered by drones shot into civilian homes? Can you justify your vote for the “lesser of two evils” to the family living under a bridge who lost their home and jobs to corporate America? What exactly is your moral defense?
C’mon, you can do better than that. You claim to be a progressive, a lover of peace and justice, an activist in that struggle, a believer that we just act EVERY DAY in EVERY WAY to make the world a better place for all of us. You have cheered on those who stood on principle and went to their deaths, stayed in jail, refused to compromise, said no when offered deals by those in power. You thought Nelson Mandela was a genuine hero when he refused to leave prison if that meant he had to compromise his beliefs, his morals, his very being. Yet you, over a simple thing like voting, cannot hold true to yours?
I don’t care one bit if you stay home, write in someone, write me in, that’s irrelevant. What’s relevant is holding fast to your dreams, your principles, and continuing to dedicate our lives to SAVING others lives and not voting to continue the murder our nation wages around the world and that BOTH the Democratic and Republican Parties continue to support.
One should not argue over the degree of pain inflicted by various methods of execution, one must argue against execution, period. This is no different.
My thanks to all who stood on principle, worked to get my name on the ballot, and will continue working to expose the corrupt system under which we all live and suffer to varying degrees. I am disappointed, but will continue to be allied with my fellow “progressives” who support that corruption by voting for its continued existence. But frankly, your arguments are simply lame explanations and do not excuse your behavior. It’s your choice, exercise it. In the end, you are not my enemy. My enemy is the system that makes you believe you must vote for it and it should be yours as well. Yesterday, now, tomorrow, and for the rest of our lives until we collectively find a way to bring peace and justice for ALL the world.
Mel Packer, former Green Party candidate for US Senate