Our endorsement for Tuesday’s midterm elections

Americans will go to the polls on Tuesday, November 2nd, to choose a new Congress. As liberals –in the real, classical meaning of the term–, we find it difficult to select one party over the other. On issue after issue, both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party contain numerous illiberal and even authoritarian elements that we find quite unpalatable. Moreover, over the last decade, both parties have proven to be incapable of dealing with America’s most pressing issues: the federal budget deficit (currently at $1.4 trillion or 12.3% of GDP), the national debt (currently at $13.6 trillion or 94% of GDP), unsustainable entitlements, skyrocketing health-care costs and the energy and climate crises (U.S. carbon emissions represent 19.91% of the world’s total). By keeping on spending more than the country can afford, Democrats seem unwilling to take the federal government’s red ink seriously. On the other hand, while they like to stress the need to cut government spending and reduce the deficit, Republicans keep pushing for unaffordable and unsustainable (and frankly unfair) tax cuts, making the problem even worse. (It should be noted that it was under President George W. Bush and a Republican-controlled Congress that the national debt grew by more than $4 trillion, the biggest increase under any administration in U.S. history.)


In the 2006 midterm elections, Democrats took over control of both houses of Congress promising an ambitious agenda. In 2008, they increased their majorities in both chambers and won the White House. They even got a filibuster-proof super-majority of 60 seats in the Senate for the first time in decades (which lasted seven months until Massachusetts chose a Republican to occupy the late Ted Kennedy’s seat). Did they take advantage of those super-majorities to address America’s problems? The unfortunate answer to that question is, no, they did not. On issue after issue, Democrats in Congress and the Obama administration have lacked the spine necessary to address the issues facing America. No climate bill. No serious energy bill. An incomplete health-care bill that solves the problem of coverage but does little to control skyrocketing costs. No comprehensive immigration reform. No closing of the scandalous and shameless Guantanamo Bay detention camp. No repeal of the infamous “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” No repeal of the discriminatory “Defense of Marriage Act.” And to top it all off, no credible strategy to deal with America’s massive national debt and out-of-control federal budget deficit.


Why should we even bother to consider endorsing a party with such a record (or, should we say, non-record)? As depressing as it may sound, the alternative to the Democrats is even worse.

After being in the political wilderness for two years, Republicans seem to have learned nothing from their mistakes. On the contrary, instead of acknowledging their mistakes, they seem determined to perpetuate them if returned to power. They like to talk about fiscal responsibility, the need to cut the deficit and reduce the national debt, but their policy prescriptions would drown America into an even deeper fiscal hole. (After all, they were the ones that managed to take the country from a $236 billion budget surplus to a $1.3 trillion deficit and increased the national debt from $9.8 trillion in 2000 to $14.4 trillion in 2008.) Now, they want to cut more taxes and propose no serious spending cuts. How would that help to cut the deficit? How would that reduce the national debt? If the Democrats’ lack of action is perpetuating America’s fiscal crisis, the Republicans’ plans would mean no less than economic catastrophe. In addition to these economically unfeasible proposals, we have to add a willingness to interfere in people’s most personal decisions. Even when they like to portray themselves as the defenders of the Constitution and the Founding Fathers’ interpreters, they seem to forget what Thomas Jefferson called a “wall of separation between church and state” and the content of the first amendment to the Constitution they supposedly defend. They even seem to forget the part of the Declaration of Independence that states that “all men are created equal.” (Apparently gay and lesbian individuals are not deserving of the same rights.) In summary, the Republicans’ plan is a combination of fantasy-world economics (which would lead to an even bigger fiscal crisis) and a cruel religious fundamentalism that specializes in stigmatizing certain groups within society.  


With this scenario in mind, we find nothing else to do but to (reluctantly) endorse the current conservative party in America –that is, the Democrats–, rather than the reactionary party –also known as the Republicans. Yes, this is uninspiring, disheartening and even boring. But what else can we do? We love America. We still think America is a beacon of freedom and hope. We hope Democrats can grow a spine and push for the changes America desperately needs. We also hope those reasonable Republicans left can take back their party from the fundamentalists and reclaim the proud legacy of Abraham Lincoln, Dwight Eisenhower, Nelson Rockefeller and Ronald Reagan.


This is a rather unexciting endorsement, but an endorsement nonetheless. We urge Americans to cast their ballots for the Democrats on Tuesday, except on two important races: the Florida Senate race, where we have endorsed Independent candidate Charlie Crist, and the Rhode Island Governor race, where we strongly support Independent candidate Lincoln Chafee.

This may be unexciting, but remember: it could always be worse. Vote for the lesser evil. Vote for the Democrats.