Sunday, June 23, 2024

Election-Angst and the Best of Bad Choices

*Huge thanks to Kit Nicholson for research, writing, and retaining hope in what is to come.

In November of 2020, I cast my vote for US president in the country’s 59th election. I ticked the box next to Joe Biden with a sense of certainty, believing I’d done right by my values.

I was wrong.

In August of 2021, Biden orchestrated a chaotic and morally void exit from Afghanistan, a country I’d lived in and loved for many years. A country to which we’d made big promises, and failed to deliver. Look at Afghanistan now.

In October of 2023, Biden announced to Israel: “You are not alone.” Certainly not, as he has gone out of his way — and out of the law — to fully fund and endorse the ongoing genocide. Look at Palestine now.

I could go on, listing my disagreement with his actions. But that’s not the point. My worry is what — who?! — comes next.

I’m not alone. A survey in September of 2023 revealed that nearly half of Americans approach this election with dread. This includes people of all ages, genders, ethnicities, and party affiliations. And this was before the US government decided to throw its weight behind the extermination of a population.

A more recent look in April of this year shows that around 62% of all Americans actively disapprove of Biden’s performance in the White House. This puts his approval rating lower than those of Trump, Obama, both Bushes, and even Reagan. Specifically in regard to his administration’s handling of Palestine, nearly 40% of voters claim to actively disapprove of the current US position. (Because, could you actually approve of a genocide?! It seems that 60% of Americans sure do!)

Meanwhile, many of us are also left wondering how Trump is even still allowed to run for office given his recent indictment in New York state — along with a slew of other charges, including the fact that he is an unbearable human. Apparently, there is no law against running for president from behind bars. And no law against being an overall a-hole. Alas.

So — we hate both options. Is there no one else?!

“I really feel for you guys,” a friend with a foreign passport told me. “Your options are unbelievably bad, in a country that fancies itself as just so good. If this is the best America can do, you’re in trouble.”

My friend, educator and activist Charlson Gaines put it this way: “I’m not voting for the next president. This is the first election I’ve ever seen where they just told us who the candidates are… no debate, no campaigning, nothing.”

Sure, we don’t have to vote. Many of us don’t. Voter turnout in the states has always been low. And this year, with the choice between an old white misogynist and an old white war criminalnot voting has never looked better!

At the same time, another vote has been gaining serious momentum — the “uncommitted.” This was driven by Arab-American voters in Michigan to send a clear warning to Biden. Other states like Minnesota and North Carolina picked up on the trend, demonstrating their displeasure with the current administration. Will it cost him the election? I certainly hope so. Will Biden continue to underestimate the strength of pro-Palestinian movements in the US? Also yes.

With all that in mind, what do we do in November?!

I’ve been agonizing over this, and I’m guessing I’m not alone. We don’t have a singular, solid candidate to throw our weight behind, but we need one! The worst we can do is underestimate how HEAVY we are. We are strong and we are principled. And — dammit — there’s got to be someone better than this.

I’ve poked around the platforms of some of the third-party candidates for progressive voters like you and me. They aren’t the only candidates, but I’ve taken the liberty of weeding out the undesirables. You’re welcome.

What follows is a snapshot from their websites, namely the stuff on women’s rights and Palestine. Are there “other issues” in the world right now? Yeah, sure. But for me, these are the biggies.

Here we go!

Claudia de la Cruz & Karina Garcia

Their Party for Socialism and Liberation wants to cut the military budget by 90%, lift cruel economic sanctions, and end “all US aid to apartheid Israel.” Right on. In fact, they’ve been among the most vocal supporters of Palestine in their campaign. Our tax dollars that fuel wars — approximately $1 trillion! — “should instead be spent to address the dire crises facing working people.”

And when it comes to women’s rights, they argue that “abortion should be available without restrictions and provided for free so that women and all people have the right to control their own bodies.” Not just that. This duo plans to address “the epidemic of violence against women … through a comprehensive approach involving programs to help women leave abusive situations, an end to impunity for crimes committed against women, and cultural campaigns to uproot sexist attitudes.”

Icing on this political cake? They want the constitution to finally guarantee equal rights for women. Because, we don’t have this yet.

The PSL party only has partial ballot access which means that they won’t appear on every state’s ballot (so much for a functioning democracy, right?). So you, freethinking person, can write their names in.

More info lives here.

Jill Stein

The Green Party also opposes the war machine, rightly stating that it only serves to enrich “military contractors, lobbyists, and politicians, while it fuels devastation around the world and impoverishes the American people.” Instead, the party advocates for “a new foreign policy based on diplomacy, international law, and human rights to oppose violence, occupation, and apartheid.” Amen.

Jill also plans to “put an end to the shameful legacy of systemic discrimination against women, Black and Brown people, Indigenous people, immigrants, people with disabilities, the LGBTQIA+ community, and other marginalized groups, and come together to ensure our rights, freedoms, and justice for all.”

And also yes, she’s been very vocal in support of Palestine. Recently, she was arrested at the encampment at Washington University alongside student activists. The Green Party also only has partial ballot access which means you have to write her name in.

To learn more, head here.

Chase Oliver

Chase recently won the Libertarian Party nomination for president. During his acceptance speech, he called for an end to the genocide, an immediate ceasefire, support for peace around the world, and “no more proxy wars.” Chase plans to close all overseas bases and immediately return active-duty personnel to domestic bases. He will also end aid directed to nation-states currently at war — including both Israel and Ukraine. At the same time, he would allow private parties, including defense contractors, to voluntarily contribute funds and sell weapons to US “friends.”

On women’s rights, the Libertarian Party is in favor of decriminalizing abortions. However, they’re also in favor of the Hyde Amendment, which will prevent federal dollars from funding abortion clinics.

There’s a plan for a nation-wide campaign in all 50 states, yet it remains unclear where he will appear on the ballot. If you like him, write him in.

To see Chase’s full policy platform, see here.

Cornel West & Melina Abdullah

These independent candidates plan to “slash the bloated US military budget, disband NATO, support the expeditious and responsible closure of global US military bases, and end Israeli apartheid of Palestinian people.” Cornel recently spoke at the Pro-Palestine encampment at the University of Pittsburgh. Love it.

And there’s more. They want to “codify abortion rights as a Constitutional mandate, ensure a mandatory minimum of six months of fully paid parental leave, and address the disproportionate mortality rate for Black pregnancies.”

As an Independent, Cornel will only be listed on 5 states’ ballots. Again, write him in!

Yeah, ok. Now what?!

Sure, these aren’t answers. They are just options. But we need to decide collectively — and quickly — who we will throw our weight behind. And DO IT.

In the words of one politically-savvy friend:

The lack of connection by white Americans — including those who work in human rights and development — is really haunting me. I’m trying to figure out how I can be a better ally as I carry all the same privileges. It seems I just think differently.

Every single woman of color I spoke to said that they refuse to vote for Biden. They know their lives will be (marginally) worse, but they won’t sell out Palestinian women. And they’ll take the hit with their bodies — as they always have.

Every single white person said ‘it’s so sad’ but, of course, they ‘have to vote for Biden.’ They then went on and on about individual rights. Now, I realize that they’ve only ever meant their own rights. There was no deviation from this — it’s terrifying.

The common argument is that every single vote against Biden is a vote for Trump. But is that enough reason?!

Peace activist and author Manal Omar counters this, stating that “fear tactics may have worked in 2020, but it won’t work this time around.”

Manal explains that both Biden and Trump are the same “white men protecting the same interests. Biden just plays the crowd differently,” she adds.

We agree that it is a shame and a crime that this is the best candidate the Democrats can muster, especially since so much is at risk.

Manal continues with concern: “I don’t know a single person who will vote for Biden in my inner circle. Even if I wanted to, I would be cast out so quickly my head would spin.”

Meanwhile, when I say I’m not voting for Biden, I’m told: “You’re throwing your vote away.” And, worse: “You’re throwing women’s rights away!” If I vote for Biden, I’m throwing Palestine — and Palestinian women — away.

The painful reality is that Trump is likely to be far worse for Palestine than Biden has been. His previous stint in office was just an appetizer, and he’s already laid out his future plans. Manal echoes this, adding that while Trump is indeed worse, “at least he’s honest that he is at war with us, and we can show up with our armor on.”

Manal concludes with the reminder that “This goes beyond Palestine. We are already occupied. This is much bigger. The values of this country’s founders that are under attack — freedom of speech and organization and every value that built this country.” Or so we thought?

Every day, more and more of us are standing up for what’s right. Our tax dollars are funding crimes against humanity, and we are no longer remaining idle. I found the following on the Instagram account @abandonbiden24 — an event to learn about our pro-Palestinian candidates so we can understand the options, and use our vote wisely.

To register, please use this link.

In the end, I will not choose between two bad choices. I will not throw away one cause to appease the other. I will not accept the least-bad choice on a mediocre menu. Rights are not options — they are requirements. The same goes for peace, justice, bodily autonomy, and every other cause I fight for.

I expect — no, I demand — to have all of this. For all of us.

*Want more of me? Head to my website — www.LinaAbiRafeh.com — and sign up for my newsletter and my Feminist Activist Firestarter!

This article is republished with the author’s permission. 

Author profile
Dr. Lina Abirafeh

Lina AbiRafeh, PhD is a global women’s rights expert with decades of experience worldwide. She is a writer, speaker, and advisor with a 25-year track record in creating positive change for women in over 20 countries around the world – Afghanistan, Haiti, Central African Republic, Papua New Guinea, and more. She serves a range of organizations in a senior advisory capacity, and is a member of several international boards of women’s rights organizations.

 

Lina publishes on a range of women’s rights issues. Her second book, “Freedom on the Frontlines” is due in early 2022. She speaks frequently on global stages and has been featured on CNN, BBC, TEDx, and Good Morning America, amongst others. Lina has been recognized as the Gender Equality Top 100 worldwide, a Vital Voices Fellow for outstanding women leaders, a Women’s Media Center Progressive Women’s Voice, and a Women in Power Fellow. 

 

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