Why I’m not voting for Barack
Do I support Barack Obama? Yes. Have I donated to the campaign of Barack Obama? Yes. Have I canvassed for Barack Obama? Yes. Will I be voting for Barack Obama? No. Yes, you read that correctly. I am not voting for Barack Obama for the office of President of the United States. On November 4th, I’m voting with my political ideals, feasibilities, and hopes.
In coming to this decision, I realize that I have alienated myself from a large number of my friends, family and even colleagues, but there is a method to “my madness.” As a resident of New York, my vote for change comes in the form of a Black woman and Latina woman, the Green Party’s Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente. For the past year, McKinney and Clemente have campaigned feverishly, which to many has appeared to be futile. They are seldom in the same venues as the mainstream candidates; you’re more likely to see them on C-Span than the cable news channels, and they have failed to gain the attention that Ralph Nader did with his Green Party campaign in 2000. But even with these factors, my vote is still valuable to changing the landscape of American politics.
If you have stayed with me this long, I’m sure you’re wondering why I would “throw away” my vote to two candidates that most people don’t know. The simple answer is I’m going Green because I believe democracy must have more than two faces.
My New York residency provides me both security and luxury. It is from this position that I decided a vote for the Green Party could serve to expand the political spectrum beyond the two party system to which we’ve become so accustomed. New York is a decidedly Blue state, which continues to poll heavily in favor of Obama. This means that my vote for Obama on the 4th will likely provide no extra push in the Electoral College; it would just increase his numbers in the popular vote. Having watched elections results the past couple of years, I’ve grown to lament the Electoral College, but I’ve come to the conclusion that if I am going to play the game of American politics, I must play it wisely. If the Green Party can receive 5 percent of the popular vote this election, they are eligible to receive major party status, which would help them build a third party with the potential to influence national politics. My vote however is not simply because I want any third party to spring up on the scene. The ticket of McKinney and Clemente comes closest to my own political roots and desires. The Green party chose two women, one with legislative experience and the other with grass roots experience. These women share many of my views on war, education, healthcare, and poverty alleviation. I have been taught that I should vote with my ideals, but this is seldom an option if one’s goal is to be a part of the “winning team” in American politics. Now is a time for Left-leaning, justice-oriented advocates to vote with their ideals and achieve victory on multiple levels. While this election is pitched as a zero-sum game, all or nothing, there is a third option, particularly for those of us in decidedly Blue or Red states.
I’m going green because since the 1980s Black Americans have been concerned that the Democratic Party has been moving towards the center and betraying many of the critical programs that are necessary for uplifting our community. I grew up in a working class family that has benefited from Affirmative Action, unionization, and the safety nets of social welfare. I continue to fight for the ideals of the poor and disenfranchised, but know that a single politician cannot and will not transform the landscape of America. In voting in the past, I’ve gotten to the booth and consistently voted Democratic in national elections because I feared losing. In 2000, I lost. In 2004, I lost. In 2008, I want to win. Not just by electing the first president who acknowledges his African descent, but win by being true to my ideals and the ideals of democracy. While I know 5 percent is lofty, and likely out of reach, I think it is just as important to vote for my ideals, which helps to push towards diversification of the political machine that has been broken for far too long. On November 4th, I’m going green because democracy must have more than two choices. I don’t want the next generation to arrive at the voter’s booth and think, “It is time to pick my poison.” Rather I want them to arrive and think, “It is time for me to pick my prescription.”