Like the majority of voters in 2008, I naively expected change when Barack Obama won election as President. I have detailed in other writings (like, “What Color Is Your Sky”) reasons why I refuse to vote, ever again, for any candidate put forward by either major party; if you are prone to watching videos rather than reading books, search for James Corbett’s piece, “The Last Word on Voting”. But in addition to both of these avenues to understand my position better, let me add one more bit to the mix.
Arguably, the three most important issues of this election are climate change, the wars the US is waging (or is about to wage), and our economy. Regarding the first issue, the most recent Republican President worked hard to gut environmental regulation. During Obama’s term, he has presided over the gutting of funding for enforcement of the remaining regulations, leaving environmental damage to run amok. The next President, of either party, will not take the steps necessary to cope with, let alone prevent, problems that threaten life as we know it on Earth. In this grave matter, there is no reason to vote for either major party candidate.
Regarding war, I knew we were not to benefit from the promised change when Obama chose the same man for Secretary of Defense as G. W. Bush: Robert Gates. Obama has since shown a predilection to remove more rights and freedoms (assassinations of American citizens and others without trial, for example), rather than restore those taken away (protection from torture, for instance) by his predecessor. What do you imagine the Romney “Kill List” will look like, three years into his term? Wait, before you answer that, stop and ponder what just happened: in the America we claim to live in, one founded on freedom and democracy and rule of law, that would be an impossible question to ask. Yet under Obama, a Democrat, we are demonstrably less free than under the last Republican.
And lastly, concerning our economy, it is naïve to think that any President has any material impact on job creation or the amount of unemployment, nor does he have any ability to “fix” recessions or depressions. Even the most highly touted “success”, that of President Roosevelt and his “New Deal”, was insufficient: what brought America out of the Great Depression, more than 10 years later, was World War II, not the programs put forth by the President. If there is one particular person who might be able to affect our economy in a meaningful way, it would be the man whose hand rests on the lever of monetary policy, not fiscal policy. It is not how you spend money that matters to create jobs and end Depressions, it is how much money you have to spend. And that man is Ben Bernanke, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. And guess what; he was first appointed by President Bush, and then re-appointed by President Obama.
Tell me again how there is a difference between the parties; why it is that it is so important that we elect one of these men over the other. And tell me again how it will ever come to be, that voters will be given any real choice, any real options, or any real difference, when it comes time to raise our voices about the future of our world. Because until that day, I’m sitting this one out.