Thoughts on Elections - Clare Moen

Any time there is an election, I am reminded that voting is a privilege and not a right. The very folks whose votes many believe would be for the greatest change are the ones who are disenfranchised through incarceration, intimidation, unfair legislation (e.g., requiring citizenship documentation), and more. Some risk losing badly needed jobs if they take time off to vote; older folks might not have anyone to accompany them to the polling place, etc. Were voting truly a right, we might have a stronger third party, might be able to vote for a black woman this year without fear of giving away the election to a candidate who has proposed a freeze on spending for all but the military.

I presume that if Barack Obama wins this year, it will be despite the staggering number of incarcerated people of color, despite the disenfranchisement of immigrants and poor folks, despite right-wing voter suppression in black communities, and despite the racism that pervades our entire culture. As long as we have a two-party system, we will always be choosing the lesser of two evils. In voting for Obama, I think a lot of people are voting for a symbol and not a person, for a black man rather than for this particular man, for hope rather than for his specific platform. This indicates to me that people want change beyond what Obama may be able to provide. I just hope he is open to hearing what we have to say.

October 2008

Clare Moen


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Clare's Comment

I'm reminded by Clare's excellent comment of a phrase that Abbie Hoffman always used to use: It's not about the lesser of two evils, but the evil of two lessers! Obama, as a highly intelligent man fighting a campaign amidst the context of intensifying Palin-inspired (but deeply felt) white supremacy, is less less than many previous Presidential candidates. That is to say, he offers more than your usual Democrat or Republican. But it is sad, in this time when a campaign is being waged by a truly great grassroots candidate-former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney now of the Green Party-that so little energy is being paid to third parties because of the threats of continued Republicanism.