“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” ~ Mark Twain
When it’s all said and done, I’ll blame my Presidential vote on Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa being such a horrible party host. When I tuned into the DNC’s big convention party, I was rudely reminded that it was a party about a game. That should have been fine. I’ve been tailgating before. I’ve cheered crushing blows and cringed at horrific injuries while inhaling beer and chips, but until this point I considered the game I was participating in to be much more cerebral. “This is chess not checkers” as Denzel Washington so famously said in Training Day. There I was, with my beer with chips and salsa, politely smiling and making small talk about how great a party it was. I was ready to move my pawn anywhere necessary to win this game, when Mayor Villaraigosa introduced the former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland to make this addition to the Democratic Party Platform:
“This summer, I was proud to serve this party as the platform drafting committee chair. As the chair, I come before you today to discuss two important matters related to our party’s national platform. As an ordained United Methodist minister, I am here to attest and affirm that our faith and belief in God is central to the American story and informs the values we’ve expressed in our party’s platform. In addition, President Obama recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and our party’s platform should, as well. Mr. Chairman, I have submitted my amendment in writing, and I believe it is being projected on the screen for the delegates to see. I move adoption of the amendment as submitted and shown to the delegates.”
Cool. Whatever. Sometimes in political chess, you have to let the Bishop do what it’s going to do to make sure you win. I would’ve voted (in the words of the late great Whitney Houston) “Hell to the Naw!” on both parts of that platform amendment. But I was prepared to lose those pieces off the board in order to win the game. Then, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s (turning from party host to game referee) let this painful moment happened:
“A motion has been made. Is there a second? Is there any further discussion? Hearing none, the matter requires a two-thirds vote in the affirmative. All those delegates in favor, say “aye.”…”
He was the party host, acting like he didn’t see the cock-roach still kicking in the salsa. You can lie to yourself if you want to (about the “aye’s” having a 2/3 majority on any of those three attempts) just don’t lie to me about it. What hurts is, I was ready to play the game. I hated this “Sean Hannity” addition to the platform, and was peeved that we have a President willing to acquiesce to a group of voters who would never vote for him, but I was willing to let that go. I was proud of the 50% of the arena who voiced their displeasure with the addendum, and I was comfortable with the 50% who either believed in that God and Israel stuff or were willing to play the game. But the decision by Mayor Villaraigosa was blatantly unethical, and I made me realize something crucial:
I should be afraid of a democratic institution that does not feel the need to even appear democratic.
Our choices are so slim, our fate is so inextricably tied to the success of the Democratic Party, that they can ignore our wishes in front of the world, and we will take it. A few pundits would mention it the next day and laugh, but in the end Mayor Villaraigosa was the face of the Democratic Party saying “You will recognize the God of Abraham in your party platform, whether you vote for it or not.” Are we so afraid of Republicans that we’d rather be dictated to by Democrats? It’s time to pause and reflect.
The concept “The lesser of two evils”, has a history. In the post World War II era, it’s how the Superpowers decided which murderous dictator to back. Now it’s the lingo many of us use to willingly elect our President. I refuse to believe that a U.S. citizen should be forced to choose between evils. That’s as anti-democratic as possible. A U.S. citizen should be free to chose good, and subsequently lose, but evil should not be his only option. There are some compromises not worth making, and war is always one of them. We are currently executing three unethical wars.
I am against the “War on Drugs”. This war is smoke fighting, not fire fighting, and has successfully made P.O.W.’s out of dealers and collateral damage out of addicts. It should be ended, and non-violent P.O.W.’s should be freed, immediately. Companies living off the Prison Industrial Complex invest in U.S. politics on a monumental and criminal scale and should be stopped, immediately. Obama, and every major Democrat and Republican laughs off questions about ending this decades long war. It has killed men, women and children in North America, South America, and shoot; everywhere you can grow narcotics, especially Afghanistan. Our current reasoning behind drug policy equates to a Minority Report style pre-crime. Every crime a drug dealer or user will commit is illegal whether drugs are involved or not. It’s a hard, principled stance, to allow people to make personal choices. It’s a hard, principled stance to wait until a drug addict commits a crime to arrest them. But your pastor and parents always told you that standing on principle is tough and necessary. We have allowed our fears to make us sacrifice our principles.
I am against the “War on Terror”. Those of my ilk have explained the insanity of declaring war on a noun and an emotion since day one. Terrorist and terror (in its literal sense) know no religion, but when we say “War on Terror”, we know exactly we are talking about our conflict with radical Islam. Between the hell fire from the sky of drone strikes, to the Obama administration continuing the Patriot Act, we have let bin Laden win posthumously. Once again fear wins over principle.
I am against the War on Palestine. This is probably the most sinister compromise I was playing in this game. A vote for a Democratic or Republican President is allowing the State of Israel to institute a modern form of apartheid on the Palestinian people. This is the main false hood of the bible placed in action, causing pain and death on a massive scale. Governor Strickland announced his role as a minister in the same amendment to the platform as he declares Jerusalem the capital of Israel. That was more than a dog whistle to the religious fanatics waiting for Armageddon, it was a big slab of bacon. I remained mum on this topic to advance other personal goals and societal institutions that the Democratic party champions. I can do that no longer. I believe in the separation of church and state, and if that really existed we have little reasoning behind blindly and unconditionally backing the state of Israel when it comes to the treatment of the Palestinian people.
Now I stand here at the party, with my warm beer and stale chips, having always known I was a pawn in a game that everyone knows is crooked. In this game, I’m just lucky not to be one of the other pawns; the 20,000 murdered in the Mexican drug war last year, the modern apartheid in Palestine, the Arab men 18 and older who our government counts as enemy combatants if they happen to be where a drone strike lands. Now I realize I have principles that cannot be bought with health care. Fixing my teeth, getting my allergy medicine, and having a new pair of glasses, isn’t worth the lives lost to the ill conceived and executed wars on “Terror”, “Drugs” and Palestine. No party has plans on ending any of these wars anytime soon; so voting for either is an unethical compromise.
Some will say I’m turning my back on the first black President. That’s fine. He’s already done everything I’ve asked him to do; be an example of what black men are capable of to the students I teach and mentor. But politically, he’s just a pawn who became king. Congrats. Real revolutionaries shake up the board. Until he’s willing to find ways to end the wars on “Terror”, “Drugs” and Palestine I can’t follow him. According to both parties peace is not an option.
A vote for a losing 3rd Party Presidential candidate does not have to be a wasted one; it can be strategic. We need to stop thinking short term with our votes. I’m determined to give my sons’ more options than evil vs. evil when they vote in 2024. I do know this about the game, unless a 3rd party gets at first 5%, then 15%, then 30% of the vote, the major media will never let a 3rd party have a chance at the election. It has to start slow and small, and then grow. It might mean letting the assholes win for a while. I’m okay with that. In the documentary about the great historian John Henrik Clarke called A Great and Mighty Walk, he says, “We must start projects our grandchildren will finish”. I’ve tried to live that quote, and that quote is what my presidential vote this year will represent.
I haven’t declared openly for whom yet, but I’m voting for a third party. No they won’t win. Will Romney win? Probably not. If he does, am I worse off? Yes. But my people survived slavery, Romney ain’t nuthin’. I’ve had all these issues with the Democratic Party for years, but I was at the party and I was playing the game. Mayor Villaraigosa unethical vote call should not really be my come to Jesus moment. I was being an accessory to this long before that infamous platform vote. Unfortunately though, in the end, it’s not a game or a party. There are lives at stake. I would love to have health care. I’m afraid of losing the social safety nets for the elderly, children, sick and poor. I vigorously defend a woman’s right to chose, and to be paid and promoted the same as a man. When it comes to war, however, I cannot compromise, no matter how great a party, or how cerebral a game.
20 thoughts on “It’s a Party, But Not a Game: Why I’m not voting for Obama”
Well put. A viable third party is our only hope at this point. The parties we have are simply two sides of the same coin.
If the worst of two evils win because you didn’t vote, your abstinence will have served only you.
i feel like you didn’t read this. i specifically said i was voting
I agree with your statements, but this is not the election to not vote for the first and only black president. Start the 3rd party choice on the next election!
i’m proud enough of being black. his blackness is not enough of a reason to vote him in.
Excellent article. I appreciate your perspective – you have to draw the line somewhere, and some things have to be more important than others.
Voting for Obama because he is Black can also be strategic….so is voting for Democrats, regardless of what they do. Still, I think this might be the best article I’ve read on why we need at least one more party. I hope more people read it.
Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
While you make a valid point for the lack of Democracy in the Democratic party, you offer no valid solutions. Your non-politcal rhetoric is worse than the politicians. Is your third party vote going to end the war in Palestine? Is your third party vote going to stop the drones that murder children? Your third party vote is the decisive move of an indecisive coward. The “I can’t make the right choice, so I’m left with no choice ” cop-out. What exactly does your third party vote do? Your trying to create a world for your sons in 2024, but your willing to let the sons that are living now be consumed in the meantime and you say your fine with that. Obama can’t stop the war on Terrorism, Drugs or all the illegal rape, torutre and govenment sanctioned murder that the USA has built his reputation on, Damn Right he can’t do it, because negroes is waiting for this black man to perform miracles. Was he supposed to come into the oval office, pick up his presidential pen and write “ok all ya’ll stop that now and behave” and the world is magically right again? Was he suppose to fly over the war zones (both hidden and seen) and tell the soldiers to “Stop that, that’s not nice” Was he suppose to go over to the Mexican Cartels and tell them “put those women and children back and leave them alone now..go on,. get”. Yes that right, because we elected this Black man and his magical superpowers were suppose to come in and in 4 short years, wipe out 200 years of organized European mass genocide. Please my brother, don’t impeed progress. CREATE progress. You don’t like the situation, CHANGE the situation. Stop blogging and start TEACHING. But please do it all after the election. After we lect someone who is at least TRYING to help, and not just stack wealth. After young black children have an opportunity to go to college so they can understand what you aretrying to teach them. After grandmothers have the medicaiton they need to raise the grandchildren their parents cannot because they are working two jobs and need to try and sleep for a least 2 hours a day. After the military vets get the prothesis, and counseling and assistance they need to become as whole as they can be after their adventures in sand land. After the election my brother…after the storm is when you fix the roof. Not while the rain is still falling. I would like to humbly request that you go home, download “Liberation” by Outkast and put that joint on a loop and listen to it over and over again until you gain a little clarity. As always….Peace and Love my Brother.
I will ignore the insulting idea that I don’t teach, or that I haven’t listened to Outkast, or that I didn’t offer a solution, the same way you ignored my central point. If we accept Obama’s change of supplying us with medical help and financial aide, then they have no reason to listen to our complaints about the deaths those three unethical wars cause. My third party vote starts the spark that will eventually lead to a third party solution in the future. I never expected anything magical from Obama, I’ve said that in my own blog post and in my editorial in the Washington Post since 2008. He’s the President of the United States. That’s makes him Imperialist and Capitalist in chief, no matter what his color. My beef is with the entire party for which he belongs to. His blackness does not give him a pass on the unethical wars they. Yes, I expect the president to end the drug war. Yes, I expect the president to end the war on terror. Yes, I expect the president to end the war on Palestine. The president is the commander in chief, and his specific duty is to preside over wars. If a candidate is not strongly for those three things, I will not vote for him, no matter what color he is, or what social safety nets he’s willing to provide. My healthcare is not worth the incarceration rate or the bombings we perpetrate in the middle east.
Green Party Vice Presidential candidate Cheri Honkala will be speaking at the DC Statehood Green Party general assembly meeting 7pm this Thursday, Oct 4, 2012 at the Southeast Library, 403 7th St. S.E, across the street from the Eastern Market Metro stop. All are welcome. The Green Party Presidential Candidate is Jill Stein, http://www.jillstein.org. Come listen to a real non-evil alternative to Obama/Romney. Also check out http://www.isidewith.com to see how your issues align with all the Presidential Candidates. You might be surprised which candidate is actually more in alignment with your principles than you might have guessed.
Extremely well stated, Bomani. I understand your position far better than the noble savage pinings without directionI have seen from others. I don’t adhere to your position, but I respect your arguments for it and respect your decision to be guided by what you have concluded is the best option. I am grateful that you didn’t abandon voting altogether.
Outstanding read Bomani. I shared it twice already on my FB page.
Bomani, this is fantastic! You are a full-fledged pundit now. The “War on Drugs” and “War on Terror” are just boondoggles for the Prison-Industrial and Military-Industrial Complexes. As for the Israel-Palestine question, and holy roller fundamentalists, if your “religion” goes against common sense and common decency, it is time to get a new religion. I am all for Jewish people having a homeland of their own, but the land should be legitimately purchased from willing sellers, and there should be a clear game plan and mission statement to establish a workable consensus with neighboring countries and the international community. The original Zionists under Theodore Herzl were contemplating Madagascar and other real estate either available or proffered by the British Empire. Going into Palestine in 1948 and forcibly trying to eject the Palestinians was a big, big mistake, and the bad vibes are reverberating to this day.
Bomani, this is splendid punditry. You are definitely a lot more than a rapper now! I am all for peace and social justice, and unfortunately, both Democrats and Republicans fail miserably. Until the people realize this and change their voting habits and get more politically active, it will be more of the bad “same old same old.”
Thanks Kit! I’m tired of the “same old same old”.
Well said – I enjoyed reading this.