Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Does Picking the Lesser of the Evils Count as a Luxury?

Last week, a self-assured, politically-savy colleague sprung the following idea on me: Financially well-off Americans us have the luxury of voting based on social issues, but for the rest of the country choosing a candidate is a matter of economics. I’ve been mulling it over ever since.

First of all, which vote will improve my economic well-being? According to the GOP mantra, Democrats may be “Tax and Spend Liberals,” but the way I see it, the other option is Spend Don’t Tax Conservatives. I have a hard time seeing politicians who throw money at pet projects like the war in Iraq and abstinence only sex-ed with out regard for their efficacy, or the billions in debt foisted on the next generation, as the fiscally conservative option. If there were a group of candidates who’d make quality health care affordable, I’d vote that ticket in a heartbeat, and consider it the economically responsible thing to do. Alas, the option just isn’t there right now.

And then there are the “social issues.” There isn’t much to get excited about here either. The Dems may be pro-choice, but they get squeamish when it comes down to the nitty gritty (partial birth abortion ban anyone?), and aren’t motivated to take on (and get rid of) abstinence only education. They say they are pro-equality, but they can’t get behind gay marriage. They participate in pride parades, but their willingness to chop the T out of ENDA reveals a discomfort with queerness. The list goes on. It doesn’t feel great to get behind democratic candidates when they have such a weak record on social issues. Gems like Huckabee, however, remind me that I’d be crazy to do otherwise.

What do you think?

1 comment:

B said...

It's not that I think your colleague was "wrong," per se. I mean, I understand the argument that there is a sort of heirarchy of "needs" (ie, if you're poor as dirt your "need" for food is sort of more direct than, say, my "need" for marriage equality). But, my problem is that comments like your colleague's are often made as sort of excuses. Like, "this social issue is a 'luxury,' thus it's not worthy fighting passionately for." and I think that's bullshit. If our country is awesome (and, in some ways, it is) then part of the awesomeness is that a significant chunk of the population is not starving to death or fearful for their lives on a daily basis (although it shouldn't be ignored that plenty of people here are), and so we are able to set the bar a little higher and work toward VITAL things like social equality. And that is NOT a luxury. It's a privilege, maybe, but it's one that we have to constantly work for and constantly appreciate.