I have a couple of diehard Republican friends, but they’re exceptions; most of my friends would no more vote for a Republican than they’d dine on a slow-roasted digital alarm clock. A more active controversy, among my friends, is whether to vote for a major party candidate at all; many feel that it’s wrong to vote for Bad Candidate when the opponent is Marginally Worse Candidate. Instead, they’ll be voting for third party candidates like Cynthia McKinney. (Edited to add: By the way, if you’re a leftist or a progressive, I highly recommend clicking over and listening to McKinney’s speech — if you’re a progressive who has been following mainstream politics, listening to McKinney really is like breathing fresh air for the first time in a long while.)
I have a lot of sympathy for that view. I was an ardent Nader supporter, and if there were a third-party movement going on right now that seemed vital and growing — a third party movement that I believed could eventually overthrow the USA’s appalling two-party system — I’d seriously consider working for it. I find the anti-democratic laws and tactics designed to keep minor party candidates off ballots disgusting and an insult to human liberty. And, if the vote in Oregon ends up being meaningless (which is often is), I probably will vote for whoever the Green Party candidate for president is.
Right now, however, the third-party movement doesn’t feel to me like it has much life to it. And the differences between a Republican and Democratic president — although much narrower than I’d like — can matter a hell of a lot. Which I was reminded of today by this post on rhrealitycheck, by Florence Machio, who lives in Kenya:
With a maternal mortality in my country high, the World Health Organization has introduced many strategies that could reduce the many deaths. What is often overlooked is the fact that African women are intelligent enough to make their own choices, if those choices are indeed available.
The choices begin from negotiating for sex, using contraceptives and carrying a pregnancy especially where incest and rape are concerned. One of the statements made by Dr. Jean Kaggia, an anti-choice advocate from Kenya, at the Congress was that we needed more money to change behavior. How does one propose that a married woman should change behavior when her husband is the one who makes the decision of whether to go to hospital or not or worse still whether to use a condom or not?
Kenya is a country with 42 tribes, which have varying cultural beliefs — meaning we can’t give a blanket solution to everyone.
I remember during the 2004 elections, many people in my country knew more about the politics of the US than knew what was happening in their own country’s economy. I cannot claim to know exactly why Kenyans did not particularly like the reelection of Bush. People like Dr. Joachim Osur and other doctors who deal with family planning issues in Kenya and Africa would have much preferred a Democrat to win the election. For me it meant that we had to suffer another four years of this policy, which, interpreted by the Bush administration, meant a cut in spending on family planning.
Thanks to the global gag rule, many organizations that provided family planning services had to denounce abortion in writing and also not provide post abortion care. Most of them refused for good reason — but that meant that they lost critical funding for their organizations and the eventual result was a close down of clinics in major districts in the country. This in itself affected many women and of course ended up reducing the gains that had been made over the years in family planning and reduction of unintended pregnancies.
I always say this — give an African woman or any other woman choices and that will go along way in reducing unsafe abortions that have taken away the lives of many of my sisters, mothers and daughters on the continent.
When it comes to reproductive health issues like the global gag rule, or funding UNFPA, the difference between having a Democratic and a Republican president will determine if countless woman get the medical care and reproductive choice they need to make their own choices, and — in many cases — if they live or die. Although I respect those who vote for third-party candidates, I’ll be urging people to vote for the Democrat — whoever the Democrat is — largely because of this issue.