Barring a huge upset, Republicans will take control of at least one house of Congress next week. ... This is going to be terrible. In fact, future historians will probably look back at the 2010 election as a catastrophe for America, one that condemned the nation to years of political chaos and economic weakness.lolsob. Read the whole thing here.
Start with the politics.
In the late-1990s, Republicans and Democrats were able to work together on some issues. President Obama seems to believe that the same thing can happen again today. In a recent interview with National Journal, he sounded a conciliatory note, saying that Democrats need to have an "appropriate sense of humility," and that he would "spend more time building consensus." Good luck with that.
Because of where I live and the options on my ballot, I am almost certainly going to vote a straight Democratic ticket. My only other options for me are voting for the GOP (yeah, right) and not voting, and I'm not personally feeling inclined to decline to use that right in protest (yet). The GOP will be, as Krugman quite rightly points out, devastating for the US economy, and I am an economy voter: I've always been, and always will be, an economy voter, in no small part because I genuinely believe with the whole of my being that the economy lies at the root of every. single. issue. that's important to me as a progressive.
If there were well-funded women's health clinics with affordable contraception, including emergency contraception, in every town in the US, abortion would not be the compelling issue that it is. If poor white conservative evangelicals weren't struggling to survive, same-sex marriage would not be the compelling issue that it is—and race- and gender-baiting wouldn't be the effective political strategies that they are.
Most people are most inclined to be generous when they feel like they have what they need. Contentment and personal security allows people to open their wallets, but it also allows them to open their hearts and their minds. Conferring cultural privilege—whiteness, maleness, straightness, able-bodiedness, cisgenderness, etc.—is a way of mitigating the insecurity bred by classism. When a poor white straight man has nothing else but his sense of entitlement, he is reluctant to yield equality to others. That's why wealthy conservatives tend to be way more socially liberal in their personal lives than their politics would suggest; it's why, during the last presidential election, John McCain figureheaded a platform of intolerance, but had an openly gay chief of staff.
Clearly, a more equitable and supportive economy would not alone solve every social problem, but it would render many of them virtually impotent, stealing away the frustrations and furious feelings of injustice in which support for intolerance is bred.
That's why I'm an economy voter. Because I am a feminist. Because I am disabled. Because I am queerish. Because I am an ally to people of color. Because I am a progressive. Because I care passionately about social justice—which is tied in big and small and inextricable ways to economic justice.
So long as the vast majority of the wealth is concentrated among a very few people, so long as corporations are granted personhood and workers' rights given short shrift, so long as we don't have universal healthcare and the other fundamentals of a solid social safety net, our economy is not as strong as it could, or should, be.
And the GOP will happily undermine what security our already precarious economy grants us, because chaos and desperation serve their goals. Their corporate masters are never happier than when people will work longer hours for less money and fewer benefits because they're in desperate fear of losing their jobs, and the healthcare coverage attached to them. Their cultural masters are never happier when the oppressive futility of our corrupt political system boils in fearful people's guts and comes steaming out in hot blasts of hatred and intolerance.
All of this serves the conservative elite agenda to dismantle what domestic security our government provides.
So I'll be voting defensively. And I'll be pissed that it probably won't make any difference, because the Democrats have not done enough to give lots of voters something to vote for, and too many people across this nation will thus give their votes to the other guys, with foolish hopes of something better.
While casting my vote, I will nonetheless understand the decisions of progressives who have the opportunity to vote for a third party and take it, and of progressives who don't vote at all, who argue that things have to get much worse before they can get better. I'll understand that because it's not people privileged enough to insulate themselves from disaster who make this argument to me, but people already on the precipice, or people who have already been left with nothing more to lose.
And because I am less certain with every election that they're wrong.
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