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No One To Vote For

Since turning 18, I have never not voted. In every election in which I’ve been eligible-local, state, and national-I have cast a ballot.

Maybe it’s because I had parents who lived during the civil rights era. They made sure I knew what me right to vote had cost. They encouraged me to vote even when there are no good choices. My dad used to say to me, “If you can’t find someone to vote for, find someone to vote against. But vote.”

Now it appears that in the Maryland primary on February 12 I’ll have no one to vote for.

Democrat Dennis Kucinich is abandoning his second, long-shot bid for the White House as he faces a tough fight to hold onto his other job _ U.S. congressman.

In an interview with Cleveland’s Plain Dealer, the six-term House member said he was quitting the race and would make a formal announcement on Friday.

“I will be announcing that I’m transitioning out of the presidential campaign,” Kucinich said. “I’m making that announcement tomorrow about a new direction.”

Kucinich has received little support in his presidential bid; he got 1 percent of the vote in the New Hampshire primary and was shut out in the Iowa caucuses. He did have a devoted following.

So, I guess I’m sitting things out until November. I had looked forward to having the opportunity to vote my hopes in the primaries-to vote for someone. Now, I guess I’ll just fold my arms until I know who I’m voting against in November, and who I’m settling for.

And before anyone jumps on me, I will vote in the general election. I just can’t see myself getting excited about or supporting any of the remaining Democratic candidates with any degree of enthusiasm. Of those who remain, Mike Gravel is the only who supports marriage equality, but he loses me with his whole tax position. At this point, the least unsatisfactory Democrat in my view may be John Edwards, but I can’t work up a good head of steam over him either.

And it’s more than “just” gay issues (though I think that’s rather dismissive of the day-to-day concerns in the lives of many gay Americans). It’s the way the entire discourse has been artificially and arbitrarily narrowed, typified by media efforts to shut Kucinich out of one debate and then another, and to keep him off the ballot entirely in at least one state.

The effect is to take certain issues off the table, and diminish the discourse.

Much is made of the populist turn the presidential race has taken as economic conditions have worsened. But when none of the other candidates were taking pointed stands on trade policy, the mortgage crisis and real health-care reform, it was Kucinich who staked out precise positions and forced the other candidates to offer working Americans more than mere rhetoric.

…One of things that most debate moderators found so frustrating about Kucinich was his determination to talk about the bread-and-butter issues that matter most to working Americans, rather than to play their games. Kucinich forced the anchormen and the reporters, as well as the other candidates, to pay a little attention to the problems of factory workers, shop clerks and farmers. There is no question that the Ohioan’s determination to do this influenced more prominent and well-funded contenders, especially former North Carolina Senator John Edwards.

Kucinich never got much credit from the media or the other candidates. But he influenced the national debate for the better, and the race for the Democratic presidential nomination is diminished by his exit.

I’m sure there are people who could tell me, with great eloquence, why I should support one of the remaining-and apparently corporate-approved-candidates. I don’t see much difference between them, though, and I’m not convinced that any of them need my vote in the primaries or will miss having it.

But it’s not just that which has me thinking about sitting out the primaries now. It’s what the process has become, who gets heard and who doesn’t, and who decides. It’s clear that I won’t get to choose the candidate I want in the primary, unless I write his name in. But it’s also clear that I don’t need to choose.

A candidate will be chosen for me, and perhaps has been chosen already. I just have to wait until November to find out who I’m settling for.

Crossposted from The Republic of T.

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