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I had the little square next to Obama / Biden filled in on my sample ballot. And I meant to go and fill it in on the real thing, I really did. And when the time came to copy that square to the real ballot, I absolutely could not do it.
I couldn’t stop thinking about Obama saying, “Well, you know, we might have to go all Nixon on Pakistan, at some point. Or maybe Iran.”
I remembered watching Jerimiah Wright’s sermons, and Obama saying, “Well, you know, he’s a dangerously unbalanced and very, very wrong man, but he’s part of my family.” While I’m thinking, “But he’s right. He’s right, and you’re too chickenshit to admit it.”
I couldn’t get Joe Biden’s smirking face out of my head as he said, “No, I don’t think gay people are really people.”
And I thought of McKinney, saying openly that we, the United States, cause enormous harm in this world, and that this situation? It can’t go on.
So I neatly filled in the other box. When the kids I’m never having ask me if I voted for the first black president, I’ll tell them, no, I voted for the black woman and the Latina activist running against him.
(I had the same problem with Mark Udall, incidentally. I wonder how many votes he lost by getting on NPR and saying he, too, thinks the state ought to respect religious traditions and keep them homos in the closet.)
I understand that there’s danger in looking for “perfection” over practical concerns over who can actually get elected. But voting is not a practical thing. Your vote, and mine, and everyone else’s, even in the most fair elections imaginable, are all statistically indistinguishable from zero. We’re voting for other reasons—because it makes us feel good, because we feel like it’s necessary to avoid some kind of hypocrisy, to make a statement, or because maintaining a personal illusion of participation is important. There are lots more. And given that, it doesn’t make sense—for me, with my reasons—to fill in the box next to a candidate I don’t particularly like because of irrelevant practical concerns.