For the First Time in My Life, I Might Not Vote

I was sad that my big “debut” interview with Good Morning, America didn’t run (breaking news over the course of several days bumped it and made it “old” news).

The topic was whether Hillary Clinton supporters would really cross-over and vote for John McCain. The reporter asked me, “So do you think all the talk on the Internet about Clinton supporters refusing to vote for Obama and joining the McCain camp is just urban myth?”

I gave her a resounding and forceful, “Yes.” A few weeks ago I really believed that as those of us who supported one or more of the other Democratic candidates got past the grieving process, we would come together in Democratic party unity to work to defeat the GOP in the fall.

I think I may have been wrong.

I’ve gotten many comments and E-mails from women I know and respect saying they either will not vote at all in November or will vote for McCain because they are unhappy with Barack Obama.

I was still surprised and thought it was just a matter of time, especially with the alternative. Then, I started reading reports while I was enjoying the wines of Tuscany about some things that I hoped had been said by Obama’s secret evil twin, and not by Obama himself.

For a while, I’ve had a bad feeling in my gut that a President Barack Obama would not be a friend on women’s issues. Yes, he has a nice page up on his website about lofty proposals he says he will work toward to benefit women, but his remarks about women’s emotions and abortion have RED ALERT written all over them:

“I have repeatedly said that I think it’s entirely appropriate for states to restrict or even prohibit late-term abortions as long as there is a strict, well-defined exception for the health of the mother. Now, I don’t think that ‘mental distress’ qualifies as the health of the mother. I think it has to be a serious physical issue that arises in pregnancy, where there are real, significant problems to the mother carrying that child to term. Otherwise, as long as there is such a medical exception in place, I think we can prohibit late-term abortions.”

After the shape-shifting that Obama has been doing over the last few weeks on FISA, government funds for faith-based community efforts and his recent comments on late-term abortions, my firm response on the urban myth question is on shaky ground.

As a woman and a mother, the thought of anyone having to consider the necessity of a late-term abortion is hard to fathom, but there are circumstances where it could be necessary. For any male political candidate to be so blatantly dismissive of a woman’s state of mind — especially someone with daughters — is callously ignoring reality. Mental health is already an established criterion under the law and Supreme Court precedent when it comes to late-term abortions.

And that’s when the thought came into my head as I was reading the article about Obama’s comments in the International Herald Tribune, poolside in Florence:

I can’t vote for Obama.

This is a serious thing for me.

I’m the geek who couldn’t wait to vote, who embraced the mock political conventions, who stayed in to watch the Watergate hearings instead of going to the pool. Voting is sacrosanct for me. I have not missed voting in an election in more years than I care to count. But I can’t remember the last time I saw a Democrat list so far to the right that their actions made them look like a Republican in Democratic-sheep’s clothing.

It’s become clear that there will be no wooing going on by the Obama campaign. And unless something changes, it feels like Obama is actually thumbing his political nose at his supporters, early adopters or not.

So, can I really in good conscience cast a vote for someone who, for all appearances, seems to be turning his back on important issues? Can I trust that the former constitutional law teacher isn’t really abandoning what he claimed to stand for and that he will come around after the swearing in ceremony in January?

I want a Democrat to appoint the next Supreme Court justices. But Obama is walking a dangerous road — especially with women Democratic voters — by saying things that make him look more Republican than John McCain.

Obama has made a dangerous calculation. I hope he can live with the consequences.

While she’s trying to make sense of Obama’s political about-faces, you can also find PunditMom at MOMocrats and BlogHer, where she is a Contributing Editor for Politics and News.

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34 Responses to “For the First Time in My Life, I Might Not Vote”

  1. Prudence Says:

    Wow. I am shocked to hear you say that you’re actually considering not voting at all. Actually, I am disappointed and disgusted. By not voting you are voting, you are one less person for the democrats which gives McCain a better chance in the Whitehouse. Is that what you really want? Are you willing to sit by and give McBush a better chance to get the Presidency? I’m grossed out at the thought. I would seriously consider moving out of the United States for his term of office (no joke, I’m really serious). It’s is impossible that you’ll agree with any candicate, Edwards, Hillary, Obama on every issue. They are individuals and free to choose a position, any position, as you are. Truth be told, and I don’t know you personally, you don’t agree with everything that your husband (and you chose him to be your life partner), mother, father, best friend (another active choice) says. Even if you’re not excited about Obama, can you at least vote for the lesser of two evils (and I don’t believe that you’ll choose McBush as your candidate. If so, please don’t even bother going to the polls). I’m grossed out. I need vomit but I’ll be checking in for your change of heart.

  2. PunditMom Says:

    Prudence, it’s not a matter of needing to be excited. It’s a question of whether I can in good conscience cast a vote for someone who seems to be abandoning the constitution and his views on things that are important to me. I want to vote and I don’t want McCain in the White House. But how do I square that with what Obama is doing??

  3. karrie Says:

    I’ve long been skeptical of Obama, but if Hillary is the VP on the ticket, I’ll cast my vote.

    If not, I’ll still vote. Thankfully McCain will never win Massachusetts, so I’m free to choose another candidate in good conscience. Perhaps I’ll write in Joanne B.


  4. The DC Feed Editor Says:

    Great post! I have linked to this at The DC Feed.

  5. Sunshine Says:

    Come, PM, join me over here in the Libertarian party ;)

    And, on a totally different note, I planted a perennial in one of my flower beds in your honor. I’ll have a post up about it so you can figure out what the flower is. :)

    And, voting is a personal thing, in our last governor’s race I voted for my Libertarian candidate who never had a chance, but I didn’t want to vote for dumb and dumber from the Republican and Democratic tickets. Some people would call that an idiotic throwaway. I call it voting with my conscience. You’re considering something along the same lines and that is your choice to make. It’s personal, I get it.

  6. Daisy Says:

    I, too, was shocked by obama’s statement. I have to go back to Bill Clinton’s thoughts: make abortion safe, legal, and rare. Obama may lose more votes than he gains by implying he would limit availability to abortion for those who need it most.

  7. anniegirl1138 Says:

    I don’t understand the shock and disappoint about Obama of late. Did anyone really think he was different than all the others? The guy has so clearly plotted his way since his arrival in the Senate that it’s not much of a leap for him to go centrist or even push the right wing envelope to get elected.

    For women hasn’t it always been a lesser of two evils when voting for president?

    I understand where you are coming from because for too long the Dems have been handing us candidates of questionable substance and just expecting us to suck it up for the party.

    We are not not equal. They will always use our girl parts against us because that is how they maintain control over us. Until women wake up and band together and fight as one, this will not change.

    What’s the Orwell again? All U.S. Citizens are equal but Male Citizens are just a little bit more equal than Females?

  8. Gloria Feldt Says:

    I wrote this post about how I feel and have been most interested in the passion behind the conflicting comments : if anyone’s interested.

    I’ll vote for Obama but I have canceled my plans to go to a fundraising reception for him this week. I was even going to max out.

  9. jen Says:

    wow, Jo. i’m so sad to hear this. sadder still in terms of what this thinking may mean for our children. i am thankful not to have the same disenchantment…and the alternative is beyond comprehension. i know how painful this must be for you, but it truly makes me sad.

  10. pajamadeen Says:

    I read your post – twice – and I feel shocked and disappointed, as some of the others do, that you’d consider not voting. While there are a few things that trouble me about Obama, he’s heads above McCain in both effective campaigning and in most of his ideals. No one’s perfect.

    It saddens me that you’re somewhat disenchanted, but it would be even sadder if you didn’t vote, which would be sort of an unspoken vote for McCain. Can you really live with four to eight years of McSame? :-)

  11. Robert P Says:

    Yes. I can change your mind.

  12. mothergoosemouse Says:

    Faith-based community initiatives? Yikes.

    I’ve been struggling myself. Like you, I want a Democrat to appoint the next Supreme Court justices.

    I laud Sunshine for voting her conscience, but I have to admit that I can’t vote for Bob Barr in good conscience myself. ;)

  13. Corey J Feldman Says:

    Every Democrat that does not vote, is helping McCain. And here are MCain’s views on the subject of a woman’s right to choose.

    “Overturning Roe v. Wade

    John McCain believes Roe v. Wade is a flawed decision that must be overturned, and as president he will nominate judges who understand that courts should not be in the business of legislating from the bench.

    Constitutional balance would be restored by the reversal of Roe v. Wade, returning the abortion question to the individual states. The difficult issue of abortion should not be decided by judicial fiat.

    However, the reversal of Roe v. Wade represents only one step in the long path toward ending abortion. Once the question is returned to the states, the fight for life will be one of courage and compassion – the courage of a pregnant mother to bring her child into the world and the compassion of civil society to meet her needs and those of her newborn baby. The pro-life movement has done tremendous work in building and reinforcing the infrastructure of civil society by strengthening faith-based, community, and neighborhood organizations that provide critical services to pregnant mothers in need. This work must continue and government must find new ways to empower and strengthen these armies of compassion. These important groups can help build the consensus necessary to end abortion at the state level. As John McCain has publicly noted, “At its core, abortion is a human tragedy. To effect meaningful change, we must engage the debate at a human level.”

  14. followthatdog Says:

    I sympathize. I too was an eager first time voter, I loved the thrill of having my vote counted and making a difference. Over the years that has changed. Our political system is seriously flawed. I think we have created a political environment in which no sane person will ever run for the presidency. Who in their right mind would undergo that kind of scrutiny and criticism willingly? So we end up with a breed of political personalities who have flawed personalities, who are willing to pander to the ruling tide of public opinion instead of standing by their convictions. And as a result, we are forced to choose between the lesser of two evils. In this case, I still believe this is Obama. I am not a fan. I am not excited, and he has on several occasions said and done things I find questionable if not down right wrong. That said, he is still the lesser evil. By not casting your ballot, you are in essence casting it in favor of his opponent, the vile Mr. McCain.
    I was an Edwards supporter, and neither Clinton or Obama captured my political heart. I will still be voting in November, but will far less enthusiasm and more a sense of duty. Our country cannot survive another Republican administration with the kind of ill conceived policies we have experienced in the Bush administration.
    After reading this post, I plan to vote Obama, but give all of my political donations right to Planned Parenthood and NARAL for the duration of his administration.

  15. Lawyer Mama Says:

    Eek! Babe, I have to admit I’ve seen this coming. But the Supreme Court….
    You know how I feel about some of his recent comments. I don’t think that he’s really tacking all that much to the right, I think he’s just reminding us of all the stuff we (and the MSM) overlooked in the passion of the primaries.
    I was stunned at his comments on abortion. Not necessarily about the need for restrictions on late term abortion (that’s a touchy area for so many) but because of what he said about mental distress. In an email I think I used the example of a schizophrenic who can’t take anti-psychotic drugs while pregnant and has a psychotic break. Or the woman with severe depression whose hormones are so messed up by pregnancy that she tries to kill herself. Mental illness IS a real medical condition and it infuriates me that he made that comment. I can only assume that he is differentiating between mental illness and some sort of “oh no, I don’t want to be pregnant, I’m bummed” sort of mental distress. But then shy not say that?
    Argh. Anyway, I’ll refrain from writing a book here, but I will be voting for Obama and doing what I can to get him elected. He is the sort of inspirational person and speaker that can motivate people to perhaps change their way of thinking.
    After the election? I become his biggest critic.
    And the alternative is too horrible to even think about.

  16. jodifur Says:

    Not voting is the same as voting for McCain. Except that you live in md. and we will probably go Obama anyway.

    Think of it this way. Don’t vote for the candidate. Vote for the party. You want a Dem president right? Not 4 more years of McSame? And McCain will be worse on abortion and keep us at war.

    Pick the least worse choice.

  17. Ashley Says:

    I live in Texas, so my Democratic vote really doesn’t count (usually, at least). But I’m still holding out hope that I can make a difference. I was bitterly disappointed that Hilary didn’t win the nomination, and I don’t believe that she’ll get the VP nod. I’m trying hard to put my political faith in Obama. I knew he would run to the center, but I didn’t think it would be this much. I will probably still vote for him, but this isn’t turning out to be the election I once thought I would be.

  18. Erika Jurney Says:

    You’d rather have McCain? Think lesser of two evils, my friend. As you know, I don’t hold politicians up as exemplars of perfection, so for me the unease you’re feeling is nothing new. I always find myself voting for the one who is less horrible.

  19. soapbox mom Says:

    I agree with Erika and Lawyer Mama. I’ve been a lurker of yours for some time now but have not felt compelled to leave a comment until now.

    Come on, J. Just think about what you’re saying. I thought all sorts of funky things when I was enjoying the spoils of Italy, too, but you’re back here now.

    He’s not McCain. You know that. And he’s not perfect. You might be forgetting that.

    Every vote counts. Search your soul. You know the right thing to do.

    Don’t make me take down that coffee cup badge that’s proudly displayed on my blog…

  20. soapbox mom Says:

    I meant jen and Lawyer Mama. I agree with them.

  21. Prudence Says:

    PM: This is Prudence again…. You asked and I paraphrase: How do I in good conscience vote for someone who seems to be abandoning the constitution and his views on things that are important to me?

    Answer: How do you neglect to give him your support when his opponent is far worse?

    It’s kind of like the daycare issue that Rita talked about a few posts ago. She wasn’t thrilled with the choices she had…but needed to choose the best of the options. Edwards didn’t make it (and he was my favorite candidate from the Kerry days — I didn’t like Kerry but liked him) and neither did Hillary. She put up a good fight but didn’t make it to the nomination. Honestly, had Hillary won, I would likely feel the way that you do. However, I would still vote for her because, my sister-in-law is on her third tour of duty in Iraq. She has left her 2 teenage children behind each time with only random guesses as to when and if she would come home. I can’t take the chance with McCain. Your recent straw with Obama is about his position on abortion. What about McCain’s stance on the same issue? Are you more content with his posture?

    I, like many of your other readers and commenters, are hoping that even though you’re not thrilled about Obama, that you’ll be much more disgusted, appalled, repulsed, sickened, nauseated (you get the drift) at the thought of seeing McCain (or any Republican — read Repulsion — for that matter) in the Whitehouse.

    Looking forward to your change of heart..

  22. adriana Says:

    Don’t complain if you aren’t going to vote at all. It is better to vote and see if you can leverage some power with the positions that you most care about. I can’t envision checking out of this election because Obama doesn’t fit my needs with all of the positions that are important to me.

    And for Hillary supporters, how will voting for McCain or not voting at all help her advance her agenda in the Senate?

  23. anniegirl1138 Says:

    This is depressing. The whole idea that “lesser” negates “evil”.

    We’ve sunk pretty low on the democracy scale when the best thing we can say about the candidate we are electing to the highest office in the land is:

    “At least he is not the other guy.”

    Not voting is a statement. It is a protest. It is an indictment of the pathetic choices we are given because we don’t stand up and refuse to sanction a politic process that is focused on weeding and culling too early in the contest and less concerned about quality and preserving our democracy.

    And it is her right. There is such a thing as voting one’s conscience. Perhaps more of us should give that consideration.

  24. fudgelady Says:

    PM — Well said. I found myself nodding in agreement throughout your post; you posted exactly what I have been thinking. My final decision will come after tomorrow’s Senate vote on FISA, but I’m not holding out much hope for what I thought was “my party.”

    As a Democratic committeeperson and municipal chair, the thought of not voting this year scares me — but the thought of voting for someone who will not “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution” scares me more. Democrats in the House, including my Congressman, have already voted against the rule of law; if they do so in the Senate as well — and if the party’s presumptive nominee for President does so — I cannot in good conscience campaign or vote Democratic.

    No, I am not planning to vote for McCain (I doubt his votes will be any better than the ones people are expecting from Obama), and no, I don’t know exactly where that leaves me.

    Except that it leaves me — and will leave our PunditMom — standing up for our Constitution, in a way we desperately wish our politicians would do.

  25. karoli Says:

    this frustrates me for all the reasons already stated in the comments here. Not only that, but it mystifies me,given that Clinton was far closer to the center than Obama.

    While I wish that he could have stayed where he was, her campaign strategy forces a move on that direction.

    No vote is a mccain vote. That is what I had to remind myself of when I held my nose and voted for Kerry. If the Clinton supporters are going to abstain or vote for mccain that is their right, but I sure wonder what they think mccain will do to advance women’s causes for the next four years.

  26. Houseonahill Says:

    “Shape-shifting” is the most descriptive word I have come across to desribe Obama. For months during the primary, as a black woman, I have been urging, women especially to REALLY look at his stance on ISSUES. I knew that after the ROCK CONCERT it would be all to apparent that he stands for what?

    Being from Illinois, and having worked on his senate campaign, I know that he has not accomplished enough. BUT now that he is our presumptive nominee, and has promised to put the people into the process, WE MUST ELECT HIM and hold him accountable at every turn.

    If he does not sleep a wink, we will be in the White House front yard, on every phone line and at every event, holding him accountable. Women this is our moment. Call Hillary’s campaign and Patty Solis-Doyle and STAY ON THIS! I plan to…thanks for this post and for your heart-felt honest admission!

    BY THE WAY, I received an email today that Planned Parenthood is actually endorsing Obama. Contact Cecile Richards for more infor.

  27. Debbie in NYC Says:

    I know exactly how you feel. I was so excited when I was finally able to vote. And even after the 2000 election fiasco I still believed in the process. But I cannot in good conscience support Obama. But I also can’t vote for McCain.

    Maybe I’ll write in a vote for Hillary.

  28. Katherine Gray Says:

    Debbie in NYC took the words out of my mouth: Do vote, and exercise your right to write in the person you want to elect. It’s symbolic, but in line with what you stand for. I think you would later regret forfeiting this right you feel so passionate about.

  29. nashvegas Says:

    I understand and appreciate your frustration and disappointment. I feel some of it myself.
    But not voting, and voting 3rd party to make a statement, are what gave us 8 years of GWB in the first place.
    Nobody’s perfect, and we’re not going to agree with any candidate 100%. I think we have to be practical about this – vote for the one we agree with most who has a chance in hell of winning, and then stay ON him and make sure he does his job. Just mho.

  30. Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah Says:

    You have got to vote. Even if you vote for a third party, even if you vote for McCain (not that I think you should) you should vote.

    While Obama is flawed (as is every human) he is still our best shot at getting out of Iraq.

  31. Mauigirl Says:

    Please rethink this idea…while I too am concerned about his recent stances, they pale compared to what McCain would do. And on top of that I am seriously starting to think McCain is no longer competent from some of the videos I’ve seen of his responses to questions. He can’t think on his feet. We need someone who has the reaction time of a younger person. Talk about who’s going to answer the 3 a.m. phone call…you don’t want McCain.

  32. Mauigirl Says:

    Please rethink this idea…while I too am concerned about his recent stances, they pale compared to what McCain would do. And on top of that I am seriously starting to think McCain is no longer competent from some of the videos I’ve seen of his responses to questions. He can’t think on his feet. We need someone who has the reaction time of a younger person. Talk about who’s going to answer the 3 a.m. phone call…you don’t want McCain.

  33. Mauigirl Says:

    Sorry about the double post, I thought it didn’t “take.”

  34. judy in ky Says:

    I agree with Prudence… I am going to vomit! Someone please wake me when this whole mess is over. I hate to say this, but I am glad I don’t have any daughters who will have to live in the future.
    I can’t believe you would prefer McCain in the White House and messing with the Supreme Court. It seems
    “the lesser of two evils” is the best we can hope for… I know, I hate the idea too, but look at the last eight years. The whole world hates us and half of us hate ourselves!

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