The current political scene, especially here in New Jersey, has me wondering for the first time since I turned 18 whether I should vote or not. I know in my heart of hearts that I likely will, but that's mostly due to my awareness of the struggles made to bring about the democratization of the vote in this country, and that one political party is basing its strategy around preventing people from voting. I also think that it is just my civic duty to vote, no matter how distasteful the options are.
My choices in the upcoming election are not what's going to get me to the polls. Here in New Jersey the various scandals surrounding our governor have revealed the extent to which he rules this state in tandem with Democratic political bosses. In some of the races I'm voting in, it's either a Republican or a Christiecrat; what kind of choice is that? In the senate race Cory Booker is running for a full term after taking office in a special election. Having lived in Newark during Booker's tenure, I have not forgotten how in his later years he began to neglect the city in favor of his national political ambitions, or that he is very much a shill for Wall Street. Why should I vote for someone out to protect the rapacious finance industry, even if they are a Democrat? I had a similar feeling when I heard that Education Secretary Arne Duncan supported a recent court ruling stripping teacher tenure in California. Teachers and their unions pushed hard for Obama's election, and now his own administration has repaid them by spitting in their face.
In a strange way, the Tea Party has given Democrats a secret weapon. The Dems have done very little to act on the things that their base cares about, but then they can turn around and tell their voters "If you don't get out and pull the lever for us, *insert name of Tea Party troglodyte* will be in office and do all kinds of terrible things!" I have been consistently voting for Democrats in recent years almost purely because I am so frightened of what the Republicans are doing. Now it appears that this stopgap strategy on the part of progressives like me is enabling conservatives, since it allows Democrats to coast along without putting out initiatives of their own that might possibly upset their corporate donors.
So I guess I'll vote this year, but my ballot might not be complete. Those Democrats who refuse to represent the interests of their supporters will get no support from me. I know that my single vote is a piddly thing that won't change any politician's mind, I only hope enough like minded people might start doing the same and force those in the party's power structure to start listening to their base. Democrats need to stop counting on the votes of people who they do little to help; until they stop doing that, there will be little, if any chance for progressive political gains.