October 26th, 2012


political mischief managed

I fulfilled my civic duty today. One of them, since of course voting is just the first step in being a good citizen. NY only has early voting for good cause, but when I explained I get easily overwhelmed (this is putting it mildly) by crowds they took that as a medical/psychological excuse why election-day voting was too burdensome. Thank you, NY Board of Elections – I would have done it but you spared me a major ordeal by being a bit flexible.

After all my angsting over who to vote for, whether to vote, I ended up voting for Obama. A few basic reasons:

1. I am at heart an inside critic. I’d rather find a broad, somewhat influential group I agree with broadly and then work from within to try to fix the things I disagree. As long as there’s something worth saving, and I think there is much worth trying to safe with the Democratic party.

2. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a boy I knew who died from a brain tumor that I was very close to, and the work that drew me to do at Sloan Kettering. Specifically the many families bankrupted by medical costs that exceeded their insurance plans. I believe in my heart of hearts that if you get sick we as a society care for you, and we don’t let you go broke trying to pay for that care. Even if it means healthy people pay for sick peoples’ care, directly or indirectly. The ACA isn’t perfect, but it’s the best tool we have to make sure healthy people are paying into the pool so it’s there when they need it. Right now it’s very important to preserve it, and that means having a Democrat who can veto any attempts to repeal it before parts of it take affect.

3. This year’s race is close, and I’m just old enough to remember Ralph Nader. We can’t afford a repeat of that.

Plus, judges. There’s simply too much relying on the judicial branch these days and too many federal judgeships that need filling. I’ve looked at some of the candidates Romney would likely be considering and that also helped push me over the edge.

All of which means I felt voting for Obama was the right thing to do this year. Granted, I am in New York so my vote will likely mean nothing in practice, but it is good to feel like a citizen in good standing.I did introduce myself to the Green party and voted for all of their candidates down ticket – not because I was voting straight ticket but because they seemed the best for the job. This doesn’t mean I’m a dyed in the wool Democrat by any stretch – now it’s time to begin that internal critique I was talking about. I’d lovely to see the Democrat party move toward the Green party, and I’ll be looking for ways to make that happen on the local level.

Don’t you forget to vote! And don’t think that’s the end of the story once you do – there’s more work to do.

Originally published at Faith Seeking Understanding. You can comment here or there.


against that “be a good [X], vote Democrat” canard

Lately on FB, I’ve seen an uptick in pictures like this one, with the tagline Self-loathing women for Romney/Ryan 2012:

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If you recongnize this picture as coming from your wall, please don’t take it as a personal attack. This particular picture was shared by three people (a large part of why I chose it), and it’s not the first such pic I’ve seen. The insinuation, here and elsewhere, is that a woman can’t vote for the Republicans without somehow betraying her gender.

Let me be up front: if you choose to choose between Obama and Romney, I believe that Obama is absolutely the best candidate on women’s issues. Setting aside abortion access + contraception (which is important but not the defining issue in a “war on women”), there are economic issues. Romney has five sons and a wife who’s never worked outside the home, so he doesn’t really know a lot about the realities of being a woman in the workplace. His comments about binders full of women and his attempts to reach out to women betray a mindset trapped in the Mad Men era. As a woman, I always knew that if I voted for Romney it would be in spite of these views, not because of them.

That’s the thing, though. A woman can decide to vote for Romney because she has priorities other than the traditional “women’s issues.” Just like a homosexual person can also be fiscally conservative and decide for whatever reason that his economics views will trump his views on gay rights in deciding who to vote for; he can still be a good member of the gay community by working for those goals through nonpolitical means, or by trying to make arguments that will change conservatives’ stances on gay rights, or whatever. Frankly, I have a hard time understanding why someone would vote for Romney, but I suspect there are some reasons since some of my friends and families (intelligent people I respect) will probably b voting for him in two weeks. If that’s the case, then I can see a woman voting for Romney because there are other issues crucial to her as a woman.

On the issue brought up by the picture…. I’m assuming the people passing it around have te Violence Against Women Act. I was upset wen that didn’t pass, becuase for me domestic violence is right up there with kid-cancers and suicides in the realm of scary shit we need to fight with all our might. And that applies to the undocumented women, particularly those whose status was making them vulnerable. But I can imagine a woman being okay with that bill for some reason I don’t understand. I can also imagine her voting Republican in spite of things like that bill, if other priorities matter more. (Why other priorities can matter more is a hard question…)

This is important. Growing up I was told that I couldn’t be a Christian unless I was pro-life. I was told that this week, actually. Twice. And it hurts. Our allegiances to groups aren’t so neat that we can reduce being a good woman (or Christian, or philosopher, or cosplayer, or whatever) to a checklist of items a person needs to tick off. That’s the kind of thing you might expect to find in a binder — and if recent weeks have proved anything, it’s that binders are no place for women, or any of us. :-)

As someone who’s been on the receiving end of this kind of talk, I thought I’d throw my $.02 in. I like to think most Americans on’t cast their ballots for Sir Mittington. But if they do vote for him, it may well bef for the right kind of reasons. Condemning whole goups of people because of a vot eyou don’t have all the facts for doesn’t seem all tat cool to me.

Originally published at Faith Seeking Understanding. You can comment here or there.


questions from an undecided

Over at Patheos, Tim Dalrymple asked his readers to try to explain why they are voting to their candidate to that rarest of all political animals, a reflective undecided voter. Our society is so partisan and left + right so rarely really talk to each other, to say nothing of the great multitude of opinions and approaches that don’t fit on that either-or paradigm. He had my attention.

I’m a bit skeptical that Americans reasoning together should limit themselves to “convince me to vote for your guy in two weeks.” By the time we are this close to an election, most people, even most undecideds, are shaped enough by their past experiences and interactions that it’s incredibly unlikely they will actually switch sides. I think the real political work comes from community- and relationship-building, where through my life and words I show my more conservative friends (or my more liberal, or libertarian, or whatever) why I find their approach unconvincing and how mine plays out into an ethical, eudaimonistia-filled life. And it works both ways. My friends of different political views stretch me to reconsider my own. Recently, Dwim has given me much food for thought on whether the Democrats really are the lesser of two evils in our two-party system, and Michelle has prompted me to appreciate more how the libertarian’s distrust of large government can appreciate a more locally-driven approach. Granted, the latter point has pushed me more toward Jill Stein than Gary Johnson which may not have been her point. But the thing is, these conversations do have an impact. Even if I still consider myself a progressive who will most likely vote for Obama over Romney (in fact, I already did), I’m a very different type of progressive than I would be without these edifying conversations.

Anywho. Tim posed a series of questions on behalf of his undecided reader, so I thought I’d take them on.

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Originally published at Faith Seeking Understanding. You can comment here or there.