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Democrats Don’t Deserve Our Vote

  • Opinion

Written by Sam Landis, BA Social Anthropology and International Relations

‘A party which sustains supremacy by lying to the public and mob-ilising voters based on a platform that offers false hope and maliciously harvests trust from society’s most oppressed…does not deserve my support.’ 

Taken by Sam Landis; At the 2016 Democratic National Convention, leftist protesters declare the death of the Democratic Party. (July 2016) 

Travelling back home to America during the summer typically warrants endless conversations about politics. Growing up in a strongly Democratic household, I was encouraged to engage with current affairs from a young age — and having returned from my first year of university abroad, friends and family were eager to hear my opinions about Biden, abortion, student loan debt and the like. Unfortunately, they were shocked to hear my latest take: for the time being, I’m abstaining from voting.

I don’t blame them for their distaste — Democrats have undertaken a systematic operation aimed at hypnotising the American populace into believing that voting for them is the only way to secure gains for working people, resist right-wing extremism, fight for women’s rights, and solve climate change. What’s missing from their stump speech is that, in recent years, voting Democrat has done little to drastically change the material conditions of struggling Americans, and that the Democratic Party themselves have been complicit in, and actively caused, many of the issues that will supposedly be fixed if you “Vote Blue No Matter Who”.

The origins of two-party rule in America are steeped in classism, racism, sexism, xenophobia, and every other form of bigotry imaginable. Since the founding of American “democracy”, the main objective has been the construction of a capitalist system built to ensure society’s wealthiest can accumulate unlimited capital while impetuously exploiting workers — paying them pennies while they earn millions, and violently suppressing organising movements and strike action. Internationally, the ruling parties in America have barrels of blood on their hands, instigating countless colonial missions that sought to expand the influence and power of the U.S. at the expense of innocent peoples’ safety, culture, and livelihood. Today, these foundations are evident.

While Democrats have rebranded into an accepting and progressive party which raises rainbow flags and elects Black presidents — rightfully bashing Republicans as corporate overlords and racist pigs, but with little acknowledgement of their own wrongdoings — Democratic leadership continues to be dominated by the super-rich, engages in violent imperial pursuits, and offers temporary reforms which serve as band-aids to the structural degradation of America’s political, infrastructural, and economic decay. Millions are denied access to education, housing, healthcare, childcare, transportation, food, and clean water due to their socioeconomic standing, and no solutions have been offered by Democrats to radically improve these conditions. Their agenda may be better than that of the Republican Party, but the Democratic policy platform is rampant with broken promises, misleading truths, and blatant hypocrisy which will achieve far short of what is necessary.

After nearly 16 months of campaigning on the ambitious “Build Back Better” platform, Joe Biden and Democratic leadership have delivered much less than expected. While increasing our military budget to $773 billion per year and sending upwards of $15.8 billion of military aid to Ukraine, plans for free community college, a $15 federal minimum wage, and the forgiveness of all student debt have been forgotten. This military expansion comes when national crises, like undrinkable water in Jackson, Mississippi and the devastating Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico, have received minuscule amounts of federal funding to ameliorate themselves. And, while Biden’s opinions on marijuana, abortion and LGBTQ+ rights seem to have improved, we must remember how his violent political legacy — namely his 1996 crime bill which sent thousands of Black people to prison on drug charges, multiple votes prohibiting rape and incest victims to receive federally funded abortions, and decades of opposition to gay marriage — have led us to where we are today. 

The typical response I receive from those questioning my decision to abstain usually rests on the cornerstone of white liberal logic — How could you not vote after Trump? The “lesser of two evils” debate has been at the forefront of recent Democratic elections, and although a vote for Democrats will likely ensure more short-term gains, for me, it comes down to one question: do they deserve their power? A party which sustains supremacy by lying to the public and mobilising voters based on a platform that offers false hope and maliciously harvests trust from society’s most oppressed; a party which may be less rhetorically obvious about their bigotry but holds strikingly similar ideologies to conservatives on immigration, war, and the economy; and a party which suppresses Democratic candidates fighting for free healthcare, education and childcare – and which has made it nearly impossible for Green Party candidates to qualify for and retain ballot access – does not deserve my support. As the upcoming midterm elections approach, I’m not optimistic that my abstention will solve the current state of American politics – that seems like something only revolution can accomplish. But it’s time to stop blindly supporting entities which, after the manufacturing crisis, beg us for our votes and donations in order to dig themselves out of their own grave. 

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