You may have noticed that this is an election year. If you haven't, I'm here to inform you that incumbent president Barack Obama will be facing off against former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. The reason I'm letting you know about this is not to poke you into following any of the issues. I'm sure you're as tired of that as I am. I just wanted you to know that the election is actually happening and you will be required in November to go down to a polling booth and cast your vote against the candidate of your choice.
As a child of the civic ‘70s, I was raised to believe that you vote for someone, not against them. As a middle-aged adult in the 21st century, I know that is just so much hogwash.
Having lived my adulthood through Clinton, Bush and Obama, I know that what we do in our country is vote against candidates and parties.
I've noticed that the Occupy movement has been targeting Obama appearances and going on overdrive, pointing out the man's presidential deficiencies. Not from a crazy point of view, mind you -- these are perfectly reasonable and intelligent criticisms against the man's presidency. I agree with many of them. The problem is, a vote for Obama is a vote against Romney, and I very definitely intend to vote against Romney.
What about a third party? At this point, I would say that's a vote for the third party, or against Obama. Hey, I voted for Nader in 2000 and still stand by it, even with the
Voting for a third party back then was to make a point. After Perot's two runs and the attention he got, it seemed like third parties could, at the very least, seem like the Fox Network in its early days -- small, of limited availability, but present and with a dynamic future. The year 2000 undid all that and here we are.
To those of you voting for your first time, I agree this reality sucks. You should be able to vote for somebody without doing damage. That's not reality anymore, though. The rules of the game have changed under our noses, and those idealists among us shouldn't act like Republicans and cling to the old ways just because they see them as fair and right.
You're in a position where you're not voting for someone who will usher in a new era of fairness and sustainability into the American landscape. You're voting against a person who will gut so many things you hold as part of your basic rights in this country. You're voting against future nominees to the Supreme Court who will certainly strip away your rights -- especially if you are a woman, if you are gay or if you are desperate for health care.
You are voting to head off the path short-sighted, controlling villains who are far worse than anything Obama might or might not do.
Twelve years on, I view the presidential efforts of the Green Party and any others as a noble, but fruitless, sideshow. Keep pushing for state seats, keep pushing for mayor, city council. Keep pushing for congress. Challenge the president in other, more effective places.
The primary power of whoever does end up as president is to decide on and control the hydra that slithers through our political infrastructure via his appointments. It's not an election to choose a leader, so much as an office manager who will restructure the business. I've ceased to be idealistic about that particular job, instead trying to just avert a worse-case scenario. And that's what voting against is all about.
John Seven is the Transcript's arts and entertainment editor.