So, to return to the voting, let's move on to The Big One.
I'm a Decided. In fact, I've known for over a year, since watching the bizarre array of candidates on the Republican side, who I'd be voting for. So much so that I find it hard to believe people who still claim to be 'undecided': if you haven't cared enough to pay attention, please continue to drift on your merry way and let those of us who actually care get on with the election.
Which doesn't mean that, come the Voter Pamphlet, I don't read up on the positions of the minor-party candidates. There are eight tickets that made the ballot here in Washington State: the Democrats (Obama and Biden), Republicans (Romney and Ryan), Libertarians (Gary Johnson), Constitution (Virgil Goode), Greens (Jill Stein), Socialism and Liberation (Peta Lindsay), Socialist Workers (James Harris), and Justice (Rocky Anderson). Let's take them in reverse order:
The Justice Party
These folks had the best party platform, bar none, of all the people running. I'm for virtually everything they advocate: good schools, less college debt, a WPA program, equal rights, an end to the War on Drugs, major prison system reform, healthcare for all, clean energy and "responsible environmental stewardship"; support for human rights, an end to drone killings and assassinations, a return of habeas corpus. If I thought they had the ghost of a chance I'd vote for this ticket, no question. But they don't, so I won't: I want my vote to actually count as something more than just a protest or wishful thinking.
The Socialist Workers Party
Pure pro-union. I'm all for workers being well treated, citizen or immigrant, here or abroad. But it's a pretty narrow focus: a one-plank platform, so to speak. I want more out of a presidential candidate than that. Though to be fair their vision includes an end to the war in Afghanistan and a general desire "to champion the struggles of the oppressed and exploited". They'd make a great advocacy group, but president and V.P.? I doubt it.
The Socialism and Liberation Party
My initial reaction is, which is it? Socialism or Liberation? And if they can't make up their minds, why shd we take them seriously?
My second thought: both their Presidential and Vice-President candidates have never held elective office before. Apparently they view the Presidency as an entry-level position. If they're not going to take themselves seriously, why shd we?
My third thought: these people have an extremely ambitious agenda -- free healthcare, affordable jobs for all, free education, an end to war and sanctions and occupations, an end to mass incarceration, equality for women, gay rights, forgiving college and mortgage debt, immigrants' rights, clean environment, cutting greenhouse gases, renewable energy, an end to homelessness, and more. They'll fund this by seizing the assets of all the big banks. Not quite clear how the financial system is to operate without them: maybe they'll just be nationalized rather than abolished. Also not clear how they plan to seize the banks: executive order, perhaps?
In short: pie in the sky. Good pie, but not something they expect to actually achieve; rather goals for a better world they want to work towards. In the end this isn't a presidential campaign as much as a public service announcement.
The Green Party
These are the people who made the news, in a minor way, when they got arrested trying to force their way onstage at the final Obama-Romney presidential debate. I'm generally sympathetic to the Greens (that's probably the Tolkienist in me): trying to prevent "irreversible climate change" and helping the poor sound to me like good goals for any party to espouse. And the specifics of their 'Green New Deal's not bad either: guarantee higher education, forgive student loans, Medicare for all, break up the big banks, end corporate domination of elections. But their claim that electing them will create 25 million new jobs makes Romney's claim of four million new jobs created by magic seem relatively modest. They'd do their cause better by sticking closer to the real world, and the huge change Green issues can make.
The Constitution Party
The Know-Nothing party is always with us, and this year they're calling themselves the Constitution Part. These Nativists have a lot of things they're against, but far and away fear of immigrants is their chief concern. They advocate deporting everyone who can't prove he or she's in the country legally, then suspending all legal immigration as well (no green cards for two years). And, as if that's not enough, they want to abolish the 14th Amendment -- you know, the one that makes you an American citizen if you're born here. What standard they'd put in its place they don't say (I assume having two white parents is the sort of thing they have in mind). Oh, and they also want to get rid of PBS, ban abortion, prevent gay marriage, and support Chick-Fil-A.
Me, I say the melting pot's been good for America, which has become more wonderfully diverse than the Revolutionaries cd ever have dreamed.
NOTE: This one cd actually influence the election, since its candidate (Virgil Goode)* is a Congressman from Virginia: if his ticket draws away arch-conservative votes from Romney, it cd swing this more-or-less tied state into the Obama column -- which is why I suspect he'll receive v. few votes indeed.
The Libertarian Party
Traditionally the Libertarians have two issues: legalizing drugs and not paying taxes. This election, they're forgoing any mention of their support for ending the War on Drugs and concentrating purely on the anti-government, anti-tax message. Ex-Governor Johnson offers as his qualification for office the number of times he cut taxes and the number of government workers he put out of work. Color me unimpressed by his purely negative message that they govern best who govern least (tell it to James Buchanan and Franklin Pearce) and that less government equals better government. So far as 'The Vision Thing' goes, Johnson comes in dead last -- wh. is surprising, given that a significant chunk of the country is in a fairly libertarian mood (or at least claims to be).
The Republican Party
Romney promises to repeal healthcare reform, cut taxes so the government has less income, then spend lots more on the military (apparently spending more than the next ten countries with the largest military budget put together's not enough).** But, given that he changes positions daily, who knows? This is basically the anti-Obama vote.
The Democratic Party
The known element. Interestingly enough, the entire Voters' Pamphlet write-up deals with economic issues, and the work he's put into getting the country out of The Great Recession. Oddly reminiscent of his Inaugural speech, as if he's chosen this to be the matching bookend for where-we-were-then.
True Confessions Time: The one thing I got really wrong about this whole election season was that I thought all along that there'd be a major third party effort backing a Tea Party candidate. But that never came together; Romney's major achievement has been to keep the Tea Party firmly in his corner.
By the way, for those who don't think we've had enough debates over the last year or two, four of the minor-party candidates are having a debate on November 4th, two nights before Election Day: Gary Johnson (Libertarian), Jill Stein (Green), Virgil Goode (Constitution), and Rocky Anderson (Justice). Ralph Nader, who's still unapologetic about his role in electing George W. Bush (he maintains that a Gore Presidency wd have been indistinguishable from a Bush Presidency), will moderate. Cdn't they get Ross Perot?
Next up: State Offices.
*I keep wanting to put a middle initial in there: Virgil B. Goode, but I guess that's just the Chuck Berry influence. Do have to admit I love the fact that among the people running for president we have a Virgil and a Rocky (and, for that matter, a Willard).
**After all, you never know when you might need to invade Grenada.