Why I (Probably) Won’t Vote for President in 2012
by Amanda Fox-Rouch | Hunter College
2012 will be the first time I’ll have the chance to vote in a presidential election, but it looks as if I’m going to forgo my patriotic duty this time around.
While I am staunchly against reducing politics to a matter of party membership, I had previously conceived of myself as someone who would never vote for a Republican presidential candidate. But when the campaigning for 2012 began to take place a few months ago, my interest was piqued by Congressman Ron Paul, whose stances on several issues align perfectly with my own.
Thus far, however, Paul isn’t doing very well in the primaries, and it’s looking like Americans will have to choose from either Obama and Romney or Obama and Santorum/Gingrich for President, in the absence of some miracle that allows Paul to surge in the polls and acquire a significant amount of delegate support over the next few weeks.
The majority of TV media chooses to ignore Paul, eclipsing any attention he should be getting by discussing Romney or Gingrich, the GOP’s go-to candidates. Paul does, however, get a lot of attention on the internet due to the fact that he has a large base of youthful supporters. But because of his departure from typical conservative values, he has largely failed to appeal to those Republicans who have been voting in the primaries.
Though I disagree with Paul on a number of key issues, I do agree with him most, out of all of the other candidates, on his ideas about foreign policy—one area of politics that has always been important to me.
Ron Paul, for me, has been the only one on the stage of the Republican primaries to win his battles with facts rather than engaging in a campaign based on arrogance and fear- and war-mongering.
For instance, Paul has not participated in the speculation about Iran’s nuclear program that has become increasingly widespread over the past few weeks—in fact, he has even questioned the media attention that the issue has been getting. He has stated that Iran does not threaten our national security, and has said that he would not engage in any preemptive acts of war against the country, which includes economic sanctions.
Last week, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced that he expects Israel to launch an attack on Iran within the coming months in an effort to deter the country from developing nuclear weapons. As Israel is one of the United States’ most crucial allies in the Middle East, it would make sense that the U.S. would lend support to the country in their campaign against Iran.
The White House’s decision on Monday to freeze all assets in the U.S. owned by Iran and the Iranian Central Bank further exacerbates the situation and makes this ordeal seem like nothing less than warmongering. The United States and several of its allies have thousands upon thousands of nuclear warheads in their stockpiles—an amount that is likely capable of destroying the entire planet several times over. So why is it that If Iran even thinks about developing anything remotely nuclear, military action and crippling economic sanctions are justified?
All of this comes despite the fact that the Iranian government has stated numerous times that its nuclear program is being developed strictly for peaceful means. Perhaps if sanctions were lifted, or at least loosened, Iran would not have to resort to blocking the ever-important Strait of Hormuz in order to stop other countries from hindering its nuclear development—a viable threat that has been the subject of controversy lately.
I don’t know about everyone else, but I would rather not be on this planet when a war over nuclear weaponry erupts. World War III, anyone? The only prospective leader who has overtly expressed a desire to avoid unnecessary conflict with Iran thus far is Paul.
All three of the other Republican candidates up for nomination, it seems, would not be opposed to supporting a war with Iran over mere speculation. Santorum has asserted that he would not be opposed to striking Iranian nuclear sites preemptively unless they were dismantled or opened to international inspection.
I also find it inspiring that Paul is the only candidate to openly acknowledge the existence of a military-industrial complex in the United States and condemn this country’s use of its military forces to engage in various “power plays” around the planet.
Gingrich, Romney, and Santorum, however, would undoubtedly justify the continued use of our military as part of these “power plays.” Gingrich has gone so far as to denounce Obama’s apologies for our nation’s past transgressions, and insists that America being the most exceptional nation in the planet’s history is “an historical fact.” This is just the kind of thinking that gets nations involved in baseless wars and conflicts; for obvious reasons, I don’t want the leader of my country to think in such nationalistic terms.
In 2008, like many, I was elated by the election of Barack Obama. I was swayed by his speeches depicting the change he would bring to this country. I do respect some of the things he has done as president, most notably the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and the pulling out of most troops from Iraq (which should have happened much sooner). But all of this seems to be an attempt to appease the liberals who voted him into office, as nothing substantial about our policy has actually changed.
Largely, I view Obama’s four years thus far to be a repeat of Bush’s years in office: Guantanamo Bay remains open, and the NDAA was signed into law a few weeks ago, which gives the president and the military unprecedented powers. I recognize that it would take more than four years to fully realize all of the “change” he spoke about on the campaign trail in 2008, yet I have no faith in his administration’s ability to bring about this change.
It all comes down to this: Obama is not different enough from the average politician to earn my vote in this election. There is nothing exceptional about his leadership, and I feel he is just as susceptible to vested interests as the next public official.
Unless Paul gets the Republican nomination or Obama turns his policymaking around within the next nine months, it seems I will not be voting for president. Whether Obama or, say, Romney wins the election, I believe we will not see significant differences in actual policy.
It would be nice to have someone progressive lead the country, but if it comes down to two candidates who fall short of that qualification, I would rather not waste my vote on maintaining the status quo.
I will, however, be casting my vote in Congressional elections taking place on November 6th because true political “change” starts from the bottom up.Amanda Fox-Rouch is currently a student pursuing an undergraduate Political Science degree at Hunter College in New York City. She is interested in the stories of those who are typically silenced by the selectivity of the mainstream media. Find her on Twitter @afoxrouch.