Opinion » Ted Rall

If You Vote, You Can't Complain

Why it's OK for liberals not to vote for Obama



Here we go again. Like Charlie Brown considering Lucy's offer to hold the football so he can kick it­, lefties are being urged to set aside their disgust over the last four years and vote Democratic.

At least Lucy respected Charlie Brown enough to lie to him. President Barack Obama isn't even bothering to tell disappointed progressive voters that things will be different this time.

Despite my well-documented doubts, I voted for Obama in 2008. Not this time.

"If you don't vote for Obama, you're letting Romney win."

Nonsense! No election in the United States has ever been decided by one vote.

Thus, by definition, my vote is purely symbolic. My vote has no value other than as a symbolic endorsement. And I refuse to endorse what this president has done and failed to do.

I won't symbolically endorse his drone war, which has killed thousands of Pakistanis. I will not endorse Obama's 2009 decision to hand $7.77 trillion to bankers--no strings attached--who ought to be in prison while consciously standing by and allowing millions of homeowners to fall victim to illegal foreclosures and failing to abolish the time limit for unemployment benefits, as is standard in other countries.

The comedian George Carlin said, "People say, 'If you don't vote, you have no right to complain,' but where's the logic in that? If you vote and you elect dishonest, incompetent people into office who screw everything up, you are responsible for what they have done. You caused the problem; you voted them in; you have no right to complain. I, on the other hand, who did not vote, who in fact did not even leave the house on Election Day, am in no way responsible for what these people have done and have every right to complain about the mess you created that I had nothing to do with."

If you're like me, you think Mitt Romney would be even worse than Obama. What should you do? Whatever you want.

I don't care if you vote for Obama, or for a third-party candidate like Jill Stein of the Greens, or if you don't vote at all. Do whatever you want, but don't think about it.

You should be spending your time and energy thinking about revolution.

Between now and the dictatorship of the proletariat, however, we have to fend off a lot of stupid pro-Democrat entreaties to forget the dead Pakistanis and the desperate poor and your own bank balance and endorse the man and the administration who made them possible. To help you refute your pseudo-liberal, Obama-loving, Democratic apologist friends, here are some powerful counterarguments to their lesser-evilism.

Argument 1: If you don't vote for Obama, Romney will win.

Your response: Bull. That might be true if you live in a swing state. Feel free to stay home. Hell, vote for Romney. Won't make any difference.

Argument 2: Obama will be more liberal in a second term.

Your response: How do you know? Not having learned anything from the last four years, Obama still says he'll be "more than happy to work with Republicans" after the election. Even if we stipulate Obama's secret, silent liberal intentions, how will he push them through a House that will likely remain Republican? Not to mention, lame duck presidencies aren't renowned for their record of legislative achievement.

Argument 3: Romney will push the country even further to the right.

Your response: The United States has moved to the right since the early 1970s. But it wasn't just because of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Presidents Carter, Clinton and yes, Obama also moved the needle to the right. They ridiculed, marginalized and silenced liberals and progressives within the Democratic Party. Most of all, they didn't hold the line against GOP ideas, rarely resorting to filibusters and frequently going along with conservative initiatives.

In the short run, it makes sense for liberals to vote Democratic. In the long run, voting for conservative Democrats costs libs their leverage. During times of crisis, like now, short-term and long-term considerations intersect. This is not a time to vote same-old, same-old--or to think that voting matters.

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