This year, for the first time, I decided to take advantage of early voting in my home state. I wandered a couple of blocks down to the local courthouse to cast my ballot. When I left the office, I had every intention of voting for Mr. Obama. By the time I stepped up to the voting machine, I knew I would support Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala.
Except for a short run as a registered Democrat (to support a good friend who was running in a city council primary) I have been a political independent since 1980. I am inclined to the political left, but I try to vote for the person I think is best capable not to screw things up. I’ve voted for socialists, Greens, Democrats, and a few Republicans. I think there were a few Peace and Justice votes in there as well. (And in the interest of full disclosure, I was active in the Massachusetts Green Party back in the late ’90s/early ’00s.)
In 2008, I enthusiastically jumped on the Obama train. He inspired me. I wanted to be a part of history. Despite my frustration with his administration, I am not sorry for my vote. I admire the guy. And since this post is shaping up to be a list of caveats, let me also say that if I lived anywhere else, I would have voted for Barack Obama again. His and Mr. Romney’s fight is the main event. In an election that asks us to choose between two lies, I’ll swallow Obama’s brand of snake oil any day of the week.
But I live in the state of Georgia. Obama will lose by double digits here. Mine might have been a principled vote, but it was cast safe in the knowledge that in our electoral system it was largely meaningless. So I voted for Jill Stein, and here’s why:
I voted for Jill Stein because she’s the only candidate talking about the climate — even after that damn super storm!
I voted for Jill Stein because she’s the only candidate talking about repealing NAFTA and other neo-liberal trade regimes that export American jobs and depress American wages. This is about political choices, not some fictional free market.
I voted for Jill Stein because she advocates a minimum wage that is a living wage, and for equal pay for equal work regardless of age, race, and/or gender.
I voted for Jill Stein because her financial reform policy finally holds Wall Street and the banks accountable for the catastrophe they’ve foisted upon this country.
I voted for Jill Stein because she’s for forgiving student loan debt and ending the peonage system that characterizes our current education/employment relationship.
I voted for Jill Stein because I’m sick of voting against my own interests. I don’t think of voting for a “major” party as voting for the lesser of two evils — I think that is simplistic. But I know that neither of the characters running on the Republicrat tickets really care about me or people like me. They represent two sides of the same political coin, and they answer to the billionaires who are pouring soft money into the attack machines that are poisoning our discourse. It isn’t about principles or issues. It isn’t about democracy. It is about power.
So the hell with it, I threw in with someone who thinks like I do. And I am going to keep doing that. I don’t care if my vote of “principle” was a “safe” vote. You vote your way, and I’ll vote mine. No matter what, come November 6th, there is a bad moon rising. Count on it.
Mark Huddle teaches African American History and Popular Culture at Georgia College and State University. He writes from a bunker at an undisclosed location somewhere in central Georgia. He can be contacted at email@example.com. This piece was originally published at Drum-Taps.