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Why Vote?

I just read that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) vowed today not to raise taxes on the rich even if President Obama wins in November. So why vote? If the system is rigged against the 99 percent; if the GOP is blatantly in the pocket of the mega–wealthy and devoted to their betterment and not the welfare of the country as a whole, why vote?

First, let me say that the United States is a plutonomy, a country of, by, and for the wealthy. It has been this way for decades, and both political parties are guilty of doing the bidding of the oligarchs. I have no more faith in the Democrats than I do in the Republicans when it comes to freeing the system to promote the middle class or see to actually help lift the poor out of poverty.

Second, I am a values voter. Since my pocketbook doesn't really matter to either party, and the economy will tank regardless of which group of oligarchs owns the politicians in power, I tend to focus on values issues: civil rights for all Americans regardless of gender, sexual preference, race, etc. being chief among them. A Republican president will tilt the Supreme Court even further to the right, making it more difficult for America to live up to the call to freedom at its heart.

The GOP values weapons more than women. I don't. The GOP values ignorance over reason, and faith over science. I don't. The GOP fears Islam. I fear extremists of all stripes. So I will vote Democratic not because I think the Dems will lead this country to greatness, but because I think they will take longer to lead it to its doom.

Rabbi Rami Shipiro

Rabbi Rami Shapiro is an award-winning author, essayist, poet, and teacher. In the print version of our magazine, he has an advice column, “Roadside Assistance for the Spiritual Traveler,” addressing reader questions pertaining to religion, spirituality, faith, family, God, social issues, and more. His latest book is Surrendered—The Sacred Art. Rabbi Rami hosts our podcast, “Essential Conversations.”

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