Thursday, October 14, 2004
Still thinking of not voting?....read on....
This is what I just wrote addressed to everyone I know who is too "left" to vote for Kerry, i.e. says there is no difference between the candidates and won't look past the fact that both candidates are part of the Empire.
ONE GOOD REASON TO VOTE FOR KERRY
After watching the debate last night, it must be obvious even to the people who missed the secret-Dred-Scott-code of the second debate that Bush is out to reverse Roe v. Wade, recriminalize abortion, send those women who didn't keep their legs crossed to Christian Group Mothers' Homes and in general bring The Handmaid's Tale to life.
So here is what I have to say to the people who are still wanking that there is no difference between the two candidates, people who are so far left that to them both candidates spell Empire in neon letters, people who are still not convinced that Kerry is the lesser of the two evils, people who refuse to vote for Kerry for some amalgam of the reasons I just listed.
You are creating a false binary between voting and ideology/activism. You are acting as if casting a vote for Kerry somehow compromises your ideas or your activist cred. Well, here is a newsflash, activism is about what you do. As far as I can tell going to the polls on election day does not and should not interfere with whatever activist work you will and should continue to do, regardless of who gets elected, be it grassroots organizing, independent media, or civil disobedience or anything else.
One of those two people, Bush or Kerry is going to be inagurated at the White House Lawn in January. One of them is going to win (or steal) the election in three weeks. 14 out of the 20 borderline states have counties or districts where Diebold electronic machines installed, machines that will be counting our votes without a paper trail, machines manufactured by a company whose president pledged in an open letter to his shareholders to "deliver the state of Ohio to George W. Bush." Activists who have been involved in this issue are working with international election monitoring groups. We can do our part by casting so many votes that the margin cannot be disputed, machines or no machines.
But back to abortion. And the people who don't want to vote for Kerry for ideological reasons, because they are so left, so involved in Really Changing The System. Hopefully you are Changing The System through real activism, not through arrogantly refusing to go to the polls on election day, because if THAT is your version of changing the system, that is pretty pathetic. And before you jump all over me telling me how not voting for Kerry is a logical extension of all your other platforms and actions, I repeat: you are creating a false binary. Whatever good work you do, whatever left position you identify is, you will hopefully continue to do that work regardless of who is in office. If you are involved in the antiglobalization struggle, your work will be cut out for you regardless of whether Bush or Kerry is elected. But if there is at least one clearcut difference between them (and we could argue about the others) it's that Bush will appoint judges who will reverse Roe v. Wade. Bush will impose his fundamentalist Christian values on me and on every single woman who may find herself in need of an abortion in his country. Bush has already started on his march of criminalizing abortion by banning partial birth abortion without providing an exception for the life or the health of the mother (ironically most partial birth abortions are performed as medical procedures when the life or the health of the mother are at risk). He has signed into law the Laci and Connor bill, which is a backdoor attack on abortion rights, because it grants personhood and legal status to a fetus. He has made it legal for pharmacists to refuse to dispense emergency contraception if it is against their morals or ethics to do so. The Bush Administration threatened to cut funds from the CDC if they didn't remove all links to AIDS prevention except abstinence from their website (they did). The Bush Administration denies aid to third world countries whose family planning includes options other than abstinence. He WILL promote his Orwellian Culture of Life which for women, especially women who can't afford or aren't able to travel out of the country to get a safe abortion, will mean a return to butchered abortions in back alleys and hot baths with coathangers.
So, if there is no other difference between Kerry and Bush, here's one that matters. If you refuse to vote for Kerry for ideological reasons, that means, to me, that you put your ideology ahead of my right to get a safe and legal abortion. That means your ideology does not include me or millions of other women. This is not the time for ideological arrogance. True activists are judged by actions, not by posturing. Organize that group, go to that protest, drop that banner, make that video, help the NLG, participate in campaign finance reform, do that die-in, go as a human rights witness to Guatemala or go on the ISM program, make your dad read Howard Zinn, stand in solidarity with the women of Code Pink, continue your work against CAFTA and the FTAA, protest the Patriot Act and the Miami Model, do whatever it is you do, none of those activities should be impeded by you taking a half an hour to go and vote on election day. And then we will all go back to whatever modes of activism we choose to engage in, regardless of who is in the White House. Except in one case myself and millions of other women will have our right to get a safe and legal abortion preserved. In the other case should we need an abortion we will have to pursue illegally, like criminals in the night, some shady operation which may or may not kill us, or opt to do it ourselves, with coat hangers or knitting needles.