Guest Column: ‘Voting is a waste of time …’

By Tim Mills

Citizens who don’t vote “… because it’s a waste of time …” are throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The 2012 elections are likely to offer the starkest political differences between the two major parties since 1964, when President Lyndon Baines Johnson (D) went up against challenger Barry Goldwater (R) and won a second term.

The Republican Party has morphed into an extreme right-wing outfit. Here’s how:

A significant number of staunch conservative incumbents were beaten in the primaries by even more right-leaning Tea Party newbies. Since they captured the House of Representatives in 2010, the GOP congressional caucus is blocking all legislation that could benefit working people, and has made no secret of their intentions to turn back the political clock at least 75 years. The GOP presidential primary process has become a spectacle where nearly every candidate tries to out-do the others in a rightward drift. At the state level, GOP-controlled legislatures are adopting laws designed to suppress the people’s right to vote.

If given the opportunity, the GOP will install a regime answerable only to the wealthiest 1 percent. Then, the chief actors of this regime will act aggressively to dismantle our own form of self-government. They’ll abolish, privatize or underfund much-needed departments, programs and services, while giving huge tax breaks to corporations and rich people. Forget about Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid! A 1 percenters’ regime will treat working-class Americans like nothing more than cogs in a machine.

Voters who desire to prevent a GOP takeover need to organize electoral campaigns for candidates who are dedicated to stopping the GOP momentum and returning power to the American people.

What about the Democrats?

The Democratic Party is not the property of Main Street. It’s a big tent party, peopled with Democrats who would be comfortable in a Canadian-style social Democratic Party if we had one, moderates and Democrats-in-name-only. Consequently, voting the straight Democratic ticket should not be the only choice. Inside and outside the party, there have been examples where independents and Democrats won elections together.

Working-class politics is bedeviled with contradictions. Politicians may sing praises about us just to get votes, then back-slide after they win an election. Even our most favored politicians need an earful of “You’d better leave this dance with who brought ya.”

Despite all of the difficulties, throwing out the baby is not an option. Instead, let’s cast our ballots for viable candidates who will defeat the GOP power grab and stand up for the common good. That’s how we can keep the USA moving forward.

Tim Mills of Garden Prairie, Ill., is chairman of the UAW Local 592 Community Action Program.

From the Jan. 4-10, 2012, issue

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