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No, Obama and Romney Are Not “The Same”

I disagree with this, by the way.

Some people seem to think that Republicans and Democrats are basically identical policy-wise, that Obama and Romney they’re both evil, and that it doesn’t matter which one of them becomes our next president because they’re basically “the same.”

On some issues, of course, they are. Neither is willing to substantially decrease the United States’ meddling in other countries’ affairs and/or killing innocent civilians in those countries. Neither seems interested in removing corporate interests from our political system, or reforming it to allow third parties to have more influence. Both have remained infuriatingly silent on the subject of climate change. Both support violating civil liberties as part of the war on terrorism.

However, these are not the only the only issues that matter. The fact that Obama and Romney are aligned on some issues does not mean they are aligned on all of them.

There’s a reason I only ever see straight white dudes making this argument, and that reason is this: it’s easy not to see the difference between Obama and Romney when it’s not your rights that one of them is trying to take away, and the other is trying to protect.

If Romney becomes president, it’s not you who may lose the right to marry who you want, to visit the person you love when they’re hospitalized and to adopt a child with them. It’s not you who will lose your right to bodily autonomy when a newly-conservative Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade. It’s not you who’s getting disenfranchised. It’s not you who may be forced to carry your rapist’s baby to term. It’s not you who could get deported. It’s not you who may lose access to the entitlement programs that allow you to have food and housing. It’s (probably) not you who will be denied health insurance due to a preexisting condition. It goes on and on.

You can argue that Obama has actually done little to advance the rights of women, LGBT people, and racial minorities (though I would still disagree). But you cannot argue that this makes him equivalent to Romney, who fights to take those rights away. These things are just not the same. And I would still take a president who says pretty words but does little over one who actively does things that harm already-marginalized people. In a heartbeat.

I frankly have little respect for people who refuse to vote out of protest. Don’t vote for Obama if you hate him so much. Vote for a third party candidate. Write in Jon Stewart on the ballot. Do something. You might claim that not voting is an act of protest, but guess what–protests only work when they’re noticed. Nobody’s going to notice you smugly sitting on your sofa, just as nobody can hear you being silent.

Besides, you might be surprised to know that the rest of us aren’t willing to give up our rights for the sake of your act of protest.

Ideally, of course, we would have a vibrant multi-party democracy, and people who are mostly concerned with individual freedoms could vote for Libertarian candidates, whereas people who are mostly concerned with equality and progress could vote for Green Party or Socialist candidates. But right now, we don’t have that. We have two choices right now: Obama and Romney.

I say we should elect the lesser of two evils.

Many people don’t like that. They protest that the lesser of two evils is still evil and that we shouldn’t have to compromise–but it’s politics. Of course we do.

Besides, when you refuse to choose the lesser of two evils, you stand aside for the greater evil.

If you’re still unsure, go hang out on Romney’s website for a while. And consider this:

Comments

  1. says

    Just fyi, I’ve had this argument so many times over the past few weeks that I’m not interested in having it anymore. This is kinda my final word on it. So if you leave comments arguing with me, I probably won’t respond, especially since I need to go back to my horrid 20-page neuro paper now. Please don’t think I’m being rude! I’m just burned out.

  2. says

    Hi Miriam,

    I know you said you’re not interested in having this argument, but I thought I’d leave a few links for when you feel like it. I also don’t have time to argue, since I have a paper due in a few hours. But I think you’re unfairly characterizing the left-wing argument for not voting for Obama.

    Here’s a defense of that argument: http://pink-scare.blogspot.com/2012/10/not-voting-obama-and-it-has-nothing-to.html

    Here is a similar argument made by a woman, a feminist activist involved in struggles for women’s rights: http://socialistworker.org/2012/11/06/is-obama-the-womens-choice

    And finally, a similar argument made by a black, lesbian woman: http://socialistworker.org/2012/11/05/why-they-dont-challenge-racism

    Some food for thought.

    By the way, as you probably know by now, I completely respect your opinion, and I’m a regular reader of your blog. And while I understand your post was kind of a polemic, I think you could have been more fair to the opposing view.

    Best,
    Mauricio

    • says

      Well, these are all arguments about why Obama hasn’t done enough and why you shouldn’t vote for him. None of these writers are suggesting that Romney wouldn’t be any worse than Obama, and that’s the specific argument I was addressing here.

      As I said, I’m much more willing to entertain the notion that you shouldn’t vote for Obama–as long as you actually VOTE (and not for Romney). I’m not willing to entertain the notion that an Obama presidency would be just as bad as a Romney one, though, and thankfully, none of your links seem to be making that point.

      Unless my brain is really fried by neuroscience and I missed something. :P

  3. says

    I certainly didn’t vote for Romney. Being bisexual and transgender, even if I was not specifically in his crosshairs, I would quite likely get caught in the crossfire of his plans. At the very least, there would be a significant reduction in the quality of my choices overall, because the cries of “you can just choose to conform!” would get ever louder, and in a couple of cases, the prices of particular choices would get much higher.

  4. says

    Wow! I love this kind of blog! Even if it’s just dead wrong. No one on the Republican side was EVER threatening anyone with taking their rights. Your worries are just so silly. The overturning of Roe v. Wade would do nothing but throw the issue to the states. It literally would change nothing.

    Further, no one would tell you whom you could or could not marry…no one tells you that now. In no state of the union is same-sex marriage illegal. None. If you’re asking others to SUPPORT and grant all the benefits of marriage to two people of the same sex, that’s another matter and quite legitimately debatable.

    But, it bears repeating, in no state of the union are ANY same-sex couples prohibited from finding someone who will bless their union in the manner of their choosing and proclaiming themselves married at the top of their lungs, moving in together, and calling themselves husband and husband, wife and wife, spouse and spouse, partner and partner, or whatever. Nor are they prohibited from passing on their possessions to the person of their choice, or from receiving them as visitors in the hospital, etc.

    The rest of your worries are just silly or ill- or misinformed.

    For example: by far the biggest threat to your “bodily autonomy” — ObamaCare — just got written in stone. When it ends up rationing healthcare — as, by the way, Obama admitted it would — that will be the literal end of your “bodily autonomy.” You look like a young lady…by helping to re-elect Obama, you just assigned your “bodily autonomy” to someone else, who will evaluate whether or not it’s worth providing health care for you.

    Bottom line: Obama and the Democrats are dragging this nation to economic collapse. Let me tell you, THEN you have worries. No one will be worried about their ability to be transgender or bi-sexual or feminist or liberal or conservative or straight or gay when they’re eating out of dumpsters, and trying to survive food riots as, increasingly, they are in Europe.

    If you all REALLY want to ensure you keep all these rights on the fringe (not said disparagingly, but meaning: outside of speech, assembly, religion, etc.), then you want America fat and happy. Obama and his Democrats are bring us rapidly to some scary lean times, where the rights THIS blog seems to be concerned about will be the LAST things protected. Face it: there is NO case for people of, shall we say, less traditional lifestyles to vote for Obama.

    In the meantime, I enjoyed reading your blog and others’ comments.

    Best,

    x

  5. says

    I’m a few days late, but thank you for writing this. I have had soooo many argument with (otherwise progressive) men about how, as a woman, I feel that voting for “the lesser of 2 evils” is in my best interest. Most of those men voted third party and claimed they were “voting with their conscience.” And I’m sure they were. I’m glad they did. I just wish they would understand that I was voting with my conscience, too, when I voted for Obama.

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