« Collective Punishment in Gaza | Main | Candidates on YouTube »

February 2, 2008

Super Tuesday Comin in Cali

Last night a coworker asked me who I'm voting for in the primary on Tuesday. My response was rather ambivalent. I don't trust the electoral process for many reasons. First, the two-party system eliminates the ability to create truly progressive change. To get legislation passed in Congress, so many people have to agree with it that it's impossible to truly change the system. Corporate interest trumps individual rights on almost every issue. Take healthcare for example: neither Obama or Clinton inspires me at all on this issue because they refuse to admit what is painfully obvious: the US healthcare system is broken because we waste more money creating profit for the insurance industry than we do paying for healthcare. Any "fix" that doesn't involve dismantling the private insurance industry is doomed to failure. When people in other countries get cancer or diabetes or any other disease, they don't have to worry if they make enough money to cover the cost of their care. Rather, their interaction with health professionals revolves around their need for healthcare and their bottom line is never affected. As a thyroid cancer survivor, I know I'm shackled to corporate America for the rest of my life because it is impossible for me to get the healthcare I need without a group policy. Further, no one is researching the cause of thyroid cancer - or stopping the dumping of industrial waste that has caused it to be the only cancer whose occurrence is rising.

So, why should I put a lot of energy into discerning the difference between two candidates beholden to a broken system? Well, I am a member of the Democratic party, so I should at least be making an informed decision on Tuesday. The truth is, Obama is a much more inspiring speaker than Clinton. He's charismatic, charming, and yes, even reminds me of John F. Kennedy. But is that enough? After all, while Kennedy performed well during the Cuban Missile Crisis, it was proceeded by his disastrous leadership in the Bay of Pigs invasion.

In my mind, a presidential candidate's foreign policy is always the most important thing to judge him/her on, regardless of whether or not there's a "war on terrorism" happening. This is because everything domestic the president does is guided by the laws enacted by Congress, whereas the executive branch truly leads the nation in its international interaction. We have no choice but to accept that we live in a global economy with a global community, and I want a president with experience to be the chief ambassador of this country. I have more faith in Clinton's knowledge of foreign affairs than I do in Obama's.

Of course, there's also the historic moment bit of the contest. My father constantly points out that I should strongly support Hillary because we share an alma mater. And of course, there's plenty of second generation feminists who will tell you that young women who don't support Clinton don't appreciate the sacrifice and hard work of the women's movement and the need for women to support women candidates. It's a tired, patronizing drone that I don't think any young woman should take seriously. Because the truth is, gender and ethnic discrimination cannot be separated. On the scale of history, electing either a black man or a white woman would be an important milestone for this country. Young women recognize this and probably take gender out of the equation when choosing between the candidates, because we've grown up understanding the intersections of racial and gender bias.

Nevertheless, I've watched several of the Democratic debates over the last few months and Clinton has consistently seemed the stronger candidate in my mind. Of course, this says nothing about her electability since in the last two elections, the American people chose the dumbest candidate on the stage for their president.

Or did we?

The other reason I'm not obsessed with the presidential race is because I know it is inherently undemocratic. The electoral college system is a vestige of a time when men didn't trust the people and thought States were more important than individual citizens. Until the day that my vote in Los Angeles counts for exactly the same amount as a voter in Des Moines, I will continue to believe the presidential election process is inherently undemocratic. There is absolutely nothing about rural voters that make them needy of a stronger voice in the democratic process than any other minority in this country. In fact, I'd argue that the disproportionate value of rural voters has led to some of the worst legislation in this country's history: Farm Bills that feed the coffers of agribusiness and leave US school children with unhealthy meals, "alternative energy" policy that is completely fuel inefficient and has increased the poverty and hunger of our Mexican neighbors by raising the price of corn, and so forth.

So yeah, I'll probably be voting for Clinton on Tuesday. But it wont be the most interesting political act I do in the coming week. I consider my WILPF work more important to the future of society than any ballot I cast. Nevertheless, it is my civic duty to vote, and I will.

Posted by cj at February 2, 2008 3:40 PM


Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Remember me?