Why I’m Voting Third Party

Whenever the subject of the upcoming presidential election comes up, as it often does, and I mention that I’m voting for a third-party candidate, the response I get from Republicans and Democrats alike is, “Well, you can throw your vote away if you want to.” My response is usually that it’s not going to matter much whether McCain or Obama wins, because they’re really not all that different. Here are a few reasons why I think that:

I. Both McCain and Obama voted in favor of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. This is the same bill that Bush so strongly supports, the one where hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars are going to be used to rescue businesses that ought to be allowed to fail (and they ought to be allowed to fail because that’s how capitalism works).

II. Obama voted for the 2008 FISA amendments, which, among other things, retroactively legalized the warrantless wiretapping activities of the NSA (carried out under Bush’s orders), and granted immunity to the telecom companies who went along with it. I’m sure McCain would’ve voted for it also, but he was too busy campaigning to attend to his day job.
While I’m on the subject, Obama voted against the Protect America Act, the earlier, provisional version of the 2008 FISA amendments. (McCain was absent for that one as well.)

III. Neither one will balance the budget. The words “balanced budget” don’t even appear on the Fiscal platform portion of Obama’s website. The most he promises is to “enforce pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) budgeting rules which require new spending commitments or tax changes to be paid for by cuts to other programs or new revenue,” which is a fancy way of saying the budget won’t get less balanced, but it’s not going to get any better, either.
McCain’s website says he’ll work for a balanced budget (balanced by 2013!), but it also says: “No taxpayer money should bail out real estate speculators or financial market participants who failed to perform due diligence in assessing credit risks. …Any policy of financial assistance should be accompanied by reforms that promote greater transparency and accountability to ensure we never face this problem again.” And yet, he voted for the EESA, which is a bailout of irresponsible financial institutions, with lots and lots of taxpayer money. So his promise to balance the budget isn’t worth much, I’d wager.

IV. Neither one is going to extricate us from the Israeli-Palestinian mess. Granted, we’re partially responsible for the mess, as part of the League of Nations, which arbitrarily carved up the Ottoman Empire after WWI, and as part of the United Nations, which decided to take away half of Palestine and make a new country for the Jews. (As an aside, can you imagine the UN attempting to give, say, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska to the Native Americans, making it an entirely separate country? That’s exactly what we did to Palestine.)
However, our relationships with other countries in the region, particularly Iran, are going to be strained so long as we favor Israel. The Palestinians have a legitimate grievance, and nothing is going to get better so long as we ignore it, as both Obama and McCain will, like Bush, continue to do.

V. Both voted for building 700 miles of fence along our 2,000-mile border with Mexico. Guess who else thought that was a good idea? Bush.

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