Please Advise: A Moral Dilemma for Your Saturday

Here’s my electoral situation. I live in Florida. Florida is by far the biggest swing state in this election, with particular bonus swinginess to the “I-4 Corridor.” I-4 runs from Tampa, through Orlando, and on to Daytona Beach, and the Corridor refers to the counties I-4 traverses, plus one or two on either side. In 2008, South Florida voted overwhelmingly for Obama. North Florida was a sea of red counties (except for Tallahassee/Leon County, which is so liberal, I cant turn my head that far to the left to see things). The I-4 Corridor? It was literally county by county. An Obama county would be sandwiched between two McCain counties, and vice versa. There’s a very good chance that he who wins the I-4 Corridor will win Florida, and that could be the difference between 270 Electoral Votes and a victory speech, or fewer than 270 Electoral Votes, and a concession phone call.

In 2000, George W. Bush won Florida–and its big wad of Electoral Votes–by about 300 votes, this after multiple investigations and court arguments (USA Today did an independent recount, and found that Dubaya was indeed the winner, though not by much.

My question develops from this: There are two major candidates running for the Presidency: Mitt Romney and the incumbent, Barack Obama.

I don’t like either of them. I don’t think Obama has stuck to his 2008 promises in four, and Mitt Romney is…well, he’s a rich guy named Mitt. I read a great quote, either n the Huffington Post or the Washington Post, saying that Barack Obama’s biggest first term achievement is being impressed that Barack Obama is President.

These two are spending bajillions of dollars in vicious and ubiquitous TV ads. (note: Mitt unveiled two this week that are really splendidly done, from a former advertising/commercial-making standpoint.

Before the dilemma, I offer a confession: I didn’t know crap about most of the local races, namely for the school board, county commission, and city council. I saw four Janets among their numbers. In every case, I voted against the Janet. I was afraid a Janet coup would take place, and Lord help us all if that happens.  Janet bloc? I did my best to disarm them.

 

AMENDMENTS:
I voted NO on the amendment that would allow State money to go to religious organizations. This would open the door for the State to donate money to an ailing Catholic food-bank. That wouldn’t bother me. However, I think this amendment was a trifle more dangerous.
I also voted NO on an amendment that would prohibit any state funds to support a facility that performs abortions, or an employer provided insurance program that covers abortion.

The rest were things like increasing Homestead Exemption to families of First Responders and Military Personnel who were killed in the line of duty. Absolutely.

I voted to retain  all the judges who were up for retention or being willed to the cornfield.

That’s all well and good as an introduction. (Sorry.  I’m kind of an election geek)

Now, we come to the dilemma.

As I mentioned above, I am not a big fan of either Mitt Romney or Barack Obama. I think Mitt’s just a really rich, successful businessman, and I respect him for that. Total props. Obama ran on a ticket of “Change.” I haven’t seen much. Gas prices are still ridiculous. Our troops–whom he promised he’d bring home asap–are still in Afghanistan, being shot and bombed.

I agree with a lot of what Obama says on paper. I also agree with many thing Mitt says on paper. I also don’t believe those words on paper mean shit. They’re gaseous promises just to get elected. Period.

So the task I faced was NOT happily voting for a candidate I felt strongly would help Americans and make the world a better place. Once again–le sigh–I found myself having to pick the candidate who sucked less than the other. I’ve voted in every Presidential election since I turned 18, and there were really two times I genuinely in my heart voted “FOR” someone, instead of “AGAINST the one who sucked more.” That saddens me, because it speaks to the lousy quality of choices we’ve had. Sometimes, it’s worked out well: I wasn’t crazy about voting for Bill Clinton, but I did twice, because he was a better option than George Herbert Hoover Bush or Bob Dole. To be honest, I’d happily vote for Bill Clinton again today, were he allowed to run. The guy was President at a fortuitous time, with the high-tech boom, but he did the job well. When he speaks, I get the impression he knows what he’s saying. He’s not chained to a Teleprompter. Hell, I’d probably vote for Reagan again, and he’s been dead for eight years. They were both LEADERS. I don’t think either Obama or Romney is a bona-fide leader.

Since the two big party candidates both leave me underwhelmed, I looked at some of the third party candidates. I have never voted for a third party candidate–it seemed pointless, since they never have a shot at winning.

Then this little kernel of thought popped in my brain: I want to vote for somebody who believes what I believe, who puts out the message I believe in. As Leo McGarry put it on The West Wing, “I’m tired of voting for the choice of WHO CARES.”

Then, the realistic part of my brain tried to squash the little kernel of hope and truth.  I live in the biggest swing area of the biggest swing state in the country for this election. You don’t think one vote can matter? As Al Gore. He lost by fewer votes than there are people in my apartment complex. (Its a pity, too. I think Gore could have been a very good president, especially considering what we got instead)

So what would you do? Would you suck it up and vote for one major candidate just to hurt the other major candidate? Or–for once in your life–would you vote for somebody you truly believed in, knowing that your candidate had no chance of winning? Is my job as a voter to produce a winner? Or to make my voice heard, no matter how quietly?

Any thoughts?

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22 Responses to “Please Advise: A Moral Dilemma for Your Saturday”

  1. I voted Thursday (thank you, early voting!) and I voted for Barack Obama. I live in a non-swing state and could have voted for a third party, had I wanted to. I do like Barack Obama, though, and I think things are getting better. I think it’s a little silly to think one person can turn the entire country around and undo eight years of idiotic decisions in slightly under four years. Apparently even Mitt Romney says it will take him eight years to change things but he still won’t say how.

    For me personally, I would feel better about voting for a third party candidate in a non-swing state. But part of that is also because when my Green party friend Matt was spouting “Vote your conscience, not your fears!” around the 2000 election, my conscience was saying, “We cannot take a George W. Bush presidency!” and my conscience was apparently really, really correct. 🙂

    I don’t think Mitt Romney will win, so I don’t think you voting for Jill Stein or whomever the Libertarian guy is will hurt. But I also think that your life probably won’t change no matter who wins, but my life easily could. 🙂 I don’t like Mitt Romney’s stance on gays and I don’t like his stance on women. I don’t like that Paul Ryan voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Act (which would’ve ensured that I get paid the same amount as a man doing my job would) and I really don’t like that nonsense Mitt Romney spouted about women workers wanting to leave at 5 so they could fix dinner for their families. Which is basically just to say that for a lot of my straight friends (and especially my straight guy friends), this is an intellectual exercise. We don’t all have that luxury.

    And I think you can do both (produce a winner and make your voice heard). But I don’t think third parties are viable right now and just steal votes from either of the big two. (So honestly, if you’re voting libertarian, steal that vote from Romney.)

    • “Vote your conscience, not your fears.” That sums it up. My conscience is to vote for somebody who’s actually more pro-women’s rights and pro LBGT rights, same-sex marriage, etc. My fear is that if I do that, then Mitt could win, and voting my conscience would have made things worse.

      The latest unavoidable Obama ad running here features Michelle Obama. It’s a “get out and vote” ad, not a “Mitt is evil” ad, thank God (It’s also paid for by a PAC, not the Obama campaign). What she says–and I can’t speak to the veracity–is that Obama won Florida by roughly 38 votes per precinct. That’s scary.

      I don’t think Romney will win either. If he does, it won’t be because of me.

      The next election, I’m going to start on January 1, 2016. I’m going to keep careful notes. Whichever candidate airs the most TV and radio ads and dumps the greater tonnage of mail into mailbox? I’m voting for the other one. (I’m kidding, but GOD, that’d be nice)

  2. My views are admittedly skewed toward the Democratic side, but here’s my take.

    On one hand, we’ve got a guy with a clear record who maybe hasn’t accomplished everything I’d have liked, but has certainly accomplished some big things (ObamaCare is a big deal, IMO, as was sticking with the hunt for bin Laden), and hasn’t shown a tendency to get more religion into politics–in fact, he’s moved toward more gay-friendly thinking over time. The job market is not as strong as I’d like, but the stock market has done very well during his term.

    On the other hand, we have a guy whose goals and principles are increasingly unclear. He’s said loony far-right things, like his comments that a whopping 47 percent of us are basically freeloaders, then tried to appease other blocs of voters by abruptly contradicting what he said earlier. Normal people change their minds on some things, and normal politicians try to broaden their appeal–those things are understood. But Romney has thrown around such disparate opinions that I honestly don’t know where he stands. Is he an ultra-conservative defender of an embattled white-people party who will play up his big-time church connections, or the moderate he used to be in Massachusetts? I can’t tell.

    Either way, I support voting for one of the big candidates in the general election. If I’m going to express dissatisfaction by throwing some votes to small parties, I’d rather do that in the primaries.

    • “If I’m going to express dissatisfaction by throwing some votes to small parties, I’d rather do that in the primaries.”

      THAT is the best answer to my question, bar none. I should have been doing something active to get a better choice into a position where he or she had a chance to win.

      I agree with your assessment of Obama: mainly, I like what he’s done, although I wish he’d done more, and I definitely think he’s better for our nation than Mitt would be.

      I’m just tired of voting against people I loathe. I don’t think that”s how this thing was supposed to work.

      Either way, you nailed it: don’t wait till it’s time to mail my ballot to work for a better candidate.

      • Good! Apparently I had a moment of clarity… 😀

        Missed the local Obama rally tonight, alas. Potentially nasty bug brewing, and didn’t think standing around in the cold would be a great idea.

  3. I am voting third-party this election. I almost did last election, and seeing how Obama performed, I wish I would have.

    I believe your words perfectly highlight the problems with both our two-party system AND electoral college. At the end of the day, America’s voting system needs to be completely renovated in order to truly express the wishes and opinions of todays’s voters. Anyway, I could talk about that all day, but that is not what I came here to say.

    I am voting third-party because I believe that a third-party vote sends a huge message to both the Republicans and the Democrats. As Americans, when we vote for a third-party candidate, we show that we don’t have faith that either of the two-party candidates can do the job. We send the message that we would rather vote for someone who has a very small chance of winning and see that out vote goes to who we believe is best for our nation than to throw our vote away on someone who we don’t support. We send the message that we are dissatisfied with the choices that they are giving us. We send the message that we want real change, not simply change on a “platform” that never comes to fruition. We send the message that we deserve better…and so does America.

    Okay, end rant. 🙂

  4. As a human being with a uterus and ovaries, there is no question of who I would vote for. Mittney and Ryan think women are too stupid to make decisions regarding their reproductive health. Obama doesn’t just give us credit, he made sure health insurance companies provided women with birth control and OBGYNs exams.

    Mainstream news organizations keep insisting the economy is the main issue this election, but for a LOT of us it’s our reproductive freedom at stake.

    • It’s amusing that I wrote my whole splurge without mentioning this issue. I would never vote for an anti-Roe v. Wade candidate, which Romney (um, last time I checked) is. Ryan is even worse: he seems to have started a moronic trend of a few Republican candidates insinuating that rape can be a dandy way to start a family. Yikes.

    • I agree with you. I believe in a woman’s right to choose, and that birth control and OB-GYN exams should be covered as well. I agree, too, that Romney and Ryan are neanderthals. The issue isn’t whether I’d rather see Obama or Romney win–Obama in a heartbeat. What I was lamenting is that I only have these two choices. I don’t DISlike Obama, and God knows there is no way in hell I want Romney to win. My lament is that I really only have those two choices. There are a couple candidates who match-up better with what I believe. What depresses me is that if I vote for one of those candidates, I’m in essence voting for the one candidate I do NOT want to win. That’s the crux of my dilemma: I end up voting against Romney, not FOR anyone.

      A lot of this came out of depression-fueled truculence: I think Obama has done a decent job. I just feel hamstrung that he’s the only choice I really have if I want to avoid Mitt as POTUS.

      • Our entire election process is depressing. The huge invisible money behind both sides that makes it impossible for any more than two people to compete. It’s frustrating and I just don’t see it changing.

        I sure hate the far right wing. Even hearing about them on the news is giving me nightmares. Romney is so full of bullshit…”I would be a bipartisan leader.”

        Gag me.

  5. Christina Says:

    Obamacare was a big fuckin’ deal, ask Joe Biden!

    No, really, Obama spent a lot of his political capital on pushing that through (a bill with many republican ideals, from what I understand) while he had the votes/ability to do so. It’s hard for a guy to make progress when there are people like, oh shit, what’s his name… hold on — Mitch McConnell — making noise from the start. I mean, that’s no conducive to bipartisanship at ALL. (Also, I think it’s extremely childish to say “I have nothing in common with this person at all so I’m just going to sit here with my arms crossed and a pout on my face for the next 4 years.)

    Anyway, he had the chutzpah to take on that really big thing. (Which isn’t perfect and will probably have growing pains, but someone finally did something.) If he hadn’t done that, maybe he could have taken on other big things — like passing an ERA or legalizing marriage between two consenting, same sex adults. There are a lot of big fuckin’ deals right now. (Well, I don’t think they should be a big deal. I think it’s clearly a civil rights issue and the answer is clear, but I’m probably a hippy, gay-loving socialist.)

    That said, I *should* vote for Jill Stein BUT I’m voting for Obama because he stands a chance at winning (and I do think he’s a genuinely good guy who is trying to make good decisions without rocking the boat too severely). I do NOT want Romney or Ryan making ANY decisions regarding social issues. What’s the point of a “growing economy” if it keeps gays in the closet and right-free? And what’s the point of job openings if I’m too sick or pregnant to work? (Hey, it might happen. I might someday have sex and I don’t want it to interfere with my personal finances. I PAY MY BILLS AND MY TAXES, DAMN IT!) Making it simply about money in my pocket is cheap and, you know, I’m a classy broad who doesn’t sell out.

    Besides, I took Econ 201. The economy cycles. Trickle down might work in a tiny recession or economic hiccup, but when there are big, global shifts in poverty and power, our economy gets affected on a deeper, more cyclical level. I know it’s oversimplified to say that an economy can only grow so much, so quickly before it dumps again, but that’s sort of how it works. The tech bubble popped, the housing bubble popped and someone will come up with a new idea to build the next bubble… which will eventually pop — so on and so forth.

    (Also, Romney has been polluting my Twitter and Facebook feed with “promoted” shit and DAMN IT I HATE PROMOTED SHIT! Like, I knooooooow, you think you can buy the election. I got it.)

    /ramble — You already knew all this, haha.

  6. I’ll keep this plain and simple. From listening to both sides talk about what they will or won’t do, for me, there is only one choice who inspires any sort of Hope. One word, Big difference. I plan on voting for Obama simply because of Hope.

    Secondary to that, the POTUS is not just the Leader, he is the face of our Nation to all of the world. I know I’d rather have a calm, thoughtful and precise person in charge when dealing with other Nations.

    Politics is more than promises, or even Hope, it’s also about Diplomacy.

    • It’s funny, Kzinti, but “Diplomacy” is hardly ever mentioned in this shitstorm. When Obama was elected in 2008, the huge majority of my Vox friends overseas rejoiced alongside us, that we had made a great leap. I agree with you: Obama is a much better face to present to the world. Reagan was perfect when we needed to scare the mortal shit out of everyone, and I think Obama is a good face for today.

      I have zero hope in anything (I’m on 7 different meds for that), but at least it’s not a negative number. Electing Mitt would cause me to go sub-zero.

  7. I am voting for Obama. The “other side” has done a good job of minimizing what he has accomplished. Yes, he didn’t get Gitmo closed. But, Obamacare IS a huge thing. I want that to continue, I want them to work on improving it and expanding it.

    Obama showed great care in letting NATO handle the Libyan crisis. The USA didn’t have to shake it’s dick in another country’s face for once.

    I do NOT want the smug, lying Republicans let into my lady parts, my health care, my Social Security or my Freedom From Religion, or my gay friends’ lives. Or my ability to call facts FACTS.

    As for the teleprompter, I am disappointed that you bring that up. Look at every picture of every politician giving a speech. The only one who doesn’t use one is Sarah Palin who wrote notes on her hand. The teleprompter issue was brought up by the GOP because they think blacks are unintelligent and lazy and therefore our President has to use a teleprompter for those reasons. OR, because they want his intelligence questioned because they are (of course) threatened by it.

    No one ever griped about everyone using teleprompters since they were invented until now.

    One of the things that makes me angriest at the GOP is that they could have been working these past four years to help our country recover from a horrible economic mess and they chose to sit on their rumps like spoiled brats to allow President Obama to fail (which I don’t think he has done).
    That kind of behavior (and now Mitt is threatening that if we don’t elect him, his party will RUIN the country. Dick.) is unworthy of being rewarded to say the least.

    My stomach is in knots that these meatheads will get into power. Romney is George Bush Jr. the Second with almost his exact same body of followers. And yet they are too embarrassed by Bush’s “legacy” to even mention it or him.

    I truly truly dislike those people.

    • Believe me, I don’t want Mitt in the White House, or really within 100 miles of it. In no way was I saying I wanted him to win. I’m in favor of a woman’s right to choose, and everybody’s right to marry. The teleprompter thing was not a slam at Obama’s race or intelligence. It was commenting that he looked a little “deer-in-the-headlights” during the first debate, when there wasn’t a prompter. The guy’s smart as hell. No question. He lost the first debate, because he didn’t look decisive. The thing is, I like to think it’s because he had other shit on his mind, like running the country.

      Speaking of teleprompters, I’d put Obama at #3 in the “Presidential Speech Giver” category since I’ve been voting. Slick Willie Clinton would be #2. At the top is Reagan. I saw him speak in person twice, and he was amazing. It was Peggy Noonan’s words running through a teleprompter, but he just slam-dunked them home. Lord knows, some of them must have been hard to deliver with a straight face.

  8. In an interesting experiment, our group of five did one of those “who should you vote for” quizzes about policy and priorities. Everyone of us scored someone else (Green or Libertarian) first and Obama second. Of course, we all said we’d vote for Obama because we didn’t want to “throw our vote away”.

    Now if 5 out of 5 scored someone else as their top candidate, imagine what the election could look like if it was blinded for party and only relied on policy.

    • I did the same thing, and it was two someone elses followed by Obama.

      The only times I can remember a third party candidate making any sort of splash in the Presidential election were John Anderson in 1980, and H. Ross Perot in 1992. Anderson was treated like a legitimate candidate, if I remember. Perot was always sort of a crackpot, not to say that he didn’t run an amazing campaign. The difference is, if all of Anderson’s 5+ million votes had gone to Carter, Reagan still would have won handily. Perot got 19 million votes. If only 6 of his 19 million had voted for George H.W. Bush instead, he’d have beaten Bill Clinton (Lord help us).

      Here’s the caveat: popular vote doesn’t mean shit. It’s just the only real way I can make comparisons. It’s all about the Electoral College, baby, and while Perot got nearly 20% of the popular vote–roughly half of Bush’s total–he didn’t win even a single Electoral College vote. Bush won 168 electoral votes.

      In 1996, Perot ran again, although he wasn’t taken nearly as seriously as in 92. If every one of his votes had gone to Dole, it would have been a dead heat between Clinton and Dole.

      In 2000, Gore actually won the popular vote, but lost the Electoral votes, and thus the White House. If every one of Nader’s 795 voters in Osceola County alone had voted for Gore, Gore would have won Florida.

      It just makes me sad that voting for one of my two “Somebody Elses” could be so detrimental. And thus, I had to settle for #3 on my list, and vote for a guy I like okay, and who’s done an okay job, just to keep somebody I think could be dangerous from winning.

      • Those are really interesting numbers. We were so disappointed when Perot kind of got weird at the end of the campaign. We were going to vote for him, too.
        It does make me sad how the two major parties have it all locked up. It needs to be changed but how in the world????

  9. While 3rd parties would be nice, at this point, it’s simply too dangerous (esp. in Florida) not to vote for Obama. I kind of like living in the 21st century, not the 1950’s. So does my uterus.

    Mitt is the guy we all hated in high school, and he hasn’t changed. That’s still how he sees the world.

    Although I hope Jill Stein does well in non-swing states.

    • I wonder how Jill Stein would do if we didn’t face this dilemma. I wonder how many “I voted for Obama, but I would have voted for Jill Stein, except I didn’t want Mitt to win” votes there will be. At least one in FL.

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