tim: protest sign: "Down With This Sort of Thing" (politics)
In what follows, I'll assume you already have a passing familiarity with the candidates and ballot measures, but http://smartvoter.org/ is your friend in general.

Like most such guides, this one will start out being relevant to everyone eligible to vote in the US, then quickly narrow itself to just California, then further narrow itself to Santa Clara County and then San José.

tl;dr: Californians, vote yes on 30, 34, 36 to fund education and abolish the death penalty and Three Strikes; no on 32 and 35 to stand up for labor unions and sex workers. San José people, vote yes on Measure D so we can have a decent minimum wage.

President: Barack Obama

You could argue that to vote for Obama is to vote for the killing of children, or that to vote for him is to vote for the protection for other children or even killing fewer children. Virtually all US presidents have called down death upon their fellow human beings. It is an immoral system.

You don't have to participate in this system, but you do have to describe it and its complexities and contradictions accurately, and you do have to understand that when you choose not to participate, it better be for reasons more interesting than the cultivation of your own moral superiority, which is so often also the cultivation of recreational bitterness.

-- Rebecca Solnit

My tone here is different from my tone about Obama in 2008. Well, I'm four years older, but aren't we all? In retrospect, maybe I was naïve for seeing Obama as an anti-war candidate, but then again, he did end the war in Iraq. What's more, I have a lot more confidence in his willingness to end the war in Afghanistan than I do in Mittens, though it's not a sure thing.

As many people have pointed out, there's nothing particularly liberal or progressive about Obama's foreign policy. That is neither why I'm voting for him, nor enough to make me not vote for him. As many people have also pointed out, there also aren't a lot of huge differences between Obama and Romney vis-a-vis foreign policy. (Not that we know much that's specific about what Mittens' foreign policy would actually be.) We can probably count on both candidates to keep expanding the military-industrial complex, and yes, kill civilians and violate civil liberties.

On the other hand, there is a huge difference between the two candidates when it comes to women's rights and LGBT rights at home, and that matters. There is no way in hell you can say that there's no difference between Obama and Romney when it comes to reproductive choice. And since whoever gets elected will likely be able to appoint multiple Supreme Court justices, their views on abortion will matter for decades.

Likewise, as a trans person, I was able to get government-issued ID that reflects the sex that I am as a direct result of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton: in 2010, the State Department liberalized the rules for correcting sex markers on passports. I don't claim that's a huge thing, but it matters, and it wouldn't have happened under a Republican. If Obama is re-elected, maybe Social Security will fix their sex marker correction rules as well; I wouldn't hold my breath for a Romney administration to do that.

I am so, so tired of upper-middle-class white cis manarchists lecturing us all about how Obama and Romney are the same because predator drones. (I know that not everyone saying this is an upper-middle-class white cis manarchist, but I'm okay with people who have at least thought about reproductive rights still deciding they don't see a difference between the major party candidates.) The thing is, not voting, or voting third-party, won't save anyone from being killed by a predator drone. It won't prevent anyone from being tortured. All it does is display your radical cred. It's a deeply self-absorbed thing to do. What will happen if Romney wins is that women will get hurt, trans people will get hurt, queer people will get hurt. You can register that you are against that by voting for Obama.

If you're white, using concern about brown people abroad as an excuse to decline to vote for a candidate who is the better one for women, people of color, queer people, poor people, and just about any other disadvantage group in the US doesn't win you any anti-racist points. Actually, it just makes you look like a racist for holding President Obama to a higher standard than you would hold a white politician to. Did you really expect the guy to single-handedly dismantle the military-industrial complex? Do you realize how much flak he would get from Republicans for being weak on terrorism -- that a white president would never have to face -- if he had pushed harder against predator drones and torture? That's an issue not because his feelings would be hurt, but because he wouldn't have been re-elected and would have been replaced with a genuine warmonger.

I'm also guessing that the manarchists claiming that Obama and Romney are the same have never been denied health insurance because they had a pre-existing condition. I have been, and because of Obama, that will never happen to me again. This is not an abstract or theoretical concern for me.

So when I hear those privileged manarchists saying "don't vote for Obomney or Robama", I hear them saying that they don't give a fuck about women, or at least, not unless those women are so far away from them that supporting their rights won't threaten their own male privilege. I hear them saying that they don't give a fuck about poor people. And I hear them saying that they impose an unreasonably high standard of achievement for a Black president, one that is likely unachievable by anyone (much less a leader who is limited, who we've seen has already been limited, by others' willingness to destroy the entire country for the sake of stopping a Black man from leading effectively). I hear them saying that the only way in which national politics could conceivably (pun intended) affect their lives is insofar as having theoretical opinions about it affects how they feel about themselves, or how impressive others find them. Finally, I hear them saying that they actually don't care about anyone or anything outside themselves: that their priority is displaying their own supposed radicalism, reminding me that they're more radical than I am.

I am not holding my nose while voting to re-elect the President. I can criticize a group, or a person, and still support it, because my thinking isn't black-and-white. And I agree with Rebecca Solnit: "having marriage rights or discrimination protection or access to healthcare is not the lesser of two evils. If I vote for a Democrat, I do so in the hopes that fewer people will suffer, not in the belief that that option will eliminate suffering or bring us to anywhere near my goals or represent my values perfectly." I'm not voting to express myself. I'm voting to have an effect, and yes, my vote does matter even though I live in California. If you're a US voter, your vote matters no matter where you live. The popular vote matters for legitimacy as well as the electoral vote.

(If you're still voting for a third-party candidate regardless of anything I say? Please go vote for Jill Stein instead of horrible transphobic bigot Roseanne Barr.)

The rest of this is only directly relevant to you if you live in California.

US Senator: Abstain


Dianne Feinstein is a homophobic xenophobe. She's also highly likely to be re-elected, and there's no write-in option. (Any temptation I might have had to vote for her Republican opponent, Elizabeth Emken, was erased as soon as I read about her involvement with ableist movements to "help" autistic people by eliminating the.) So I'm not voting on this one.

Ballot measures and even more boring stuff, oh my )
tim: protest sign: "Down With This Sort of Thing" (politics)
Tim's Voter Guide for the 2010 Oregon and Multnomah County General Elections (3rd Congressional District and 46th State Legislature District edition)

In which I read the candidate statements so you don't have to )

tl;dr version: Take this opportunity to vote your conscience for House and Senate. Vote Kitzhaber for governor -- it's close. Vote Yes on State Measure 76, County Measures 26-114 and 26-118, and TriMet Measure 26-119 to fund parks, libraries, museums, and public transit -- you know, basically all the things government is capable of providing to make your life better. Vote Yes on Portland Measure 26-117 if you want someone to show up when your house is on fire. And for fuck's sake, whatever else you do, vote NO on 73 and tell all your friends to do the same.

tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (oregon)
I had a hard time finding any info on the candidates, so here are the few things I did find. I think I'm not going to bother voting in the uncontested races (I think this may be the first time in my life not voting on a specific contest). In my district, at least, there are three contested races:

- Multnomah Education Service District, Director, Position 2, At Large. I almost wasn't going to vote in this one either, because the best candidate seemed like Sean Schafer, the incumbent, and why vote for an incumbent? However, candidate Eric Holmes seems like enough of a douche that I decided to vote for Schafer just to make sure he doesn't win. The third candidate, Chuck Moffit, doesn't seem too bright; plus, I don't really want a former accountant and member of the military making decisions about schools.

There are audio transcripts of a community forum that featured most of the MESD candidates, but I was none the wiser after listening to them. If you're wondering just what the MESD is, their mission statement won't clear things up. The Willamette Week explained it more succinctly: "Oregon has 20 education service districts, which act like co-ops for area school districts to pool services like special education, health programs and, more famously, Outdoor School." (The Willamette Week also has endorsements, possibly most useful for voting against whoever they endorse. Same goes for the Oregonian's endorsements, though they've only endorsed school board candidates and not MESD candidates, so far. The Merc hasn't bothered to endorse anyone or cover the election, as far as I can tell.)

- Portland School District #1JT, Director, Zone 4. When I read the Willamette Week's comment, "[Steve] Buel’s bomb-throwing has zero appeal to anyone but the Bill Ayerses of the world," I figured this was probably the guy I should vote for. After a little more research, turns out I was right: he's a longtime activist for school desegregation with strong progressive creds. He is also very much in favor of de-emphasizing testing. Buel is the only candidate in this election who I'm particularly enthusiastic about supporting.

- Portland School District #1JT, Director, Zone 5. I was lukewarm about both Pam Knowles and Scott Bailey, but picked Bailey because Knowles is a leader of the Portland Business Alliance, the last two words of which generally make me reach for my gun. Bailey has some nice things to say about art and music education, school libraries, and redressing inequality; who knows if they'll actually be realized, but he's got to be better than a business leader.

Community & Parents for Public Schools Portland has school board candidates' answers to various questions.

All right, enough civic involvement for today!
tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
Seven years ago, about 3000 people died in a terrorist attack in the United States. Ever since, at least 87,000 civilians have died in Iraq in a war that the US started as a misguided attempt at retaliation or a cleverly calculated use of pretext. The war has met with little domestic protest, and in 2004, those who thought it was at least a little bit important to stop it failed to gather enough of a majority to elect a president who cared at least a little about ending the killing.

But let us put aside our past failures. This year, we have a chance to redeem ourselves. It would be wrong to say that anyone has absolute confidence that Barack Obama can or will end the war, but he is at least unbeholden to the corporate interests that keep the war going. And thus, we have no reason to believe he won't make a good-faith effort to stop the killing.

This is an area of moral certainty. If you're American, are you going to do everything you can to elect a leader who will shift our resources away from killing foreigners and back to healing our sick, employing our unemployed, cleaning our environment? Or are you going to assume that history is something that other people make and politics is other people's problem?

This is not the year for namby-pamby platitudes about how you should support whichever candidate makes you feel the warmest and fuzziest inside. If you're American, and you're not giving your time to talk to your fellow Americans about why they should support Barack Obama, then -- in a far inferior tack, but one suitable for those with crippling social anxiety or without physical energy -- you can at least write a check. If you can't write a check, and can't talk to people, then [nondenominational-deity] bless you. I'm guessing that's not so for most people reading this.

If you were going to tell me I should leave my politics out of this day, then don't. Leaving my politics out of it means leaving my politics out of it so that there's more room for your politics to fit into it.

To those of you who are eligible to vote in the United States: Nonvoters, McCain voters, I'm not asking you to defend yourselves and so I don't need to hear your defenses. Please, just go sit in the corner for a while and think about why you hate your country so much.

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tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
Tim Chevalier

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