Join News Letter

Iraq War

Peak Oil

Climate Change

US Imperialism











Gujarat Pogrom



India Elections



Submit Articles

Contact Us

Fill out your
e-mail address
to receive our newsletter!




My Vote - My Gamble

By Andrea Dworkin

02 November, 2004
The Guardian

I live in Washington, DC now, after nearly 30 years of living in New York City. Washington is built on swampland, literally, an origin that signals its character. It was designed to look like Paris. There are boulevards, monuments, museums, along with a dangerous, desolate, and impoverished inner city, still not rebuilt from the 1968 riots triggered by the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Citizens of Washington, DC do not have any voting representatives in Congress. There was and is no state entity as such. Washington is a district, not quite a city, sleepy and southern in its habits, not fully enfranchised. We are not so much citizens as members of a colony, like Guam or Puerto Rico.
Yet this is a swamp devoted to politics. The players in this company town live on political barter, while amassing personal fortunes for themselves. I am not a player. I experience instead an adumbrated form of democracy, articulated most eloquently by the invitation every four years to vote for a president and vice-president.

I accept the vote as a primitive expression of democracy out of respect for my suffragist foremothers. They fought so hard for women's civil and economic equality and ended up settling for the vote. I measure this up against a rape or an honour killing and I don't think it counts for much.

Anyway, I am supposed to vote for one or the other of two men who are differentiated by style, not by policies. They have more in common with each other than either has with me. They also both lie.

I'm voting for John Kerry, and I'm not happy. In 1972, during the Vietnam war, I refused to vote for anti-war candidate George McGovern, even though I had spent most of my young adult life in opposition to the war, because he was anti-abortion. I refused to vote for über-liberal, pro-civil rights, all-around good guy Hubert Humphrey because he did nothing while demonstrators were being beaten up by police in Chicago at the 1968 Democratic Convention. In 1976, while my feminist colleagues organised for Jimmy Carter, I refused to sign petitions or vote for him because he was anti-abortion. The first thing Carter did when elected was to have his health secretary end all federally funded abortions, which was the only access poor women had. (Yes, my sisters learned something. Now the legality of abortion, not access, is the feminist litmus test - too little, too late).

In 1984, I couldn't bear Geraldine Ferraro as the first woman vice-presidential candidate because her husband, John Zaccaro, owned a warehouse filled with pornography. The Washington Post reported that year that Zaccaro refused to comply with requests for full income and tax disclosures. I voted the first time (in 1992) for Bill Clinton because, on a lecture tour in Texas, I heard George HW Bush - known fondly in retrospect as 41 (George W being 43) - accuse Clinton of un-American activities, which he inferred from a trip Clinton had made to Moscow when he was at Oxford as a student. In 2000, I voted for Ralph Nader. I don't recommend myself as a model for citizenship, except to say that I have always abhorred the lesser-of-two-evils philosophy, and Al Gore let himself be dressed by Naomi Wolf.

I couldn't be bothered to vote most of the time because it was almost always a choice between the corrupt and the more corrupt. There is the primordial sludge and then the more pristine amoeba. My guy's the amoeba; the other guy's the sludge. This is a recipe for madness, otherwise known as the American president.

Of course, who could have imagined September 11, 2001, and Bush, the war president? And if one were to strike out against state sponsors of terrorism, who could imagine mistaking Iraq for Iran, even though in English they appear nearly the same? This is a George W kind of error.

Let me tell you about my amoeba, Kerry. He voted for the Iraq war. Asked if he, knowing then what he knows now (no weapons of mass destruction, no nuclear arsenal), would have voted differently, he said no. He is vaguely committed to putting more soldiers on the ground. He showed up for his political convention as a Vietnam war combatant, not as an anti-war protester, which he was, with honour. He is a multi-millionaire married to a multi-billionaire. His running mate, John Edwards, is more pro-war than he is, less ambivalent and less ambiguous. Edwards is also a multi-millionaire.

My amoeba talks about the middle-class; he has conveniently forgotten about the poor. (Edwards used to talk about poverty before he was absorbed into Kerry's attempted seduction of the middle class.)

My amoeba calls prostitution a "nuisance" instead of a crime against women. Some 25 years ago my amoeba was a prosecutor. He prosecuted at least one rape case, which he won. He was responsible for setting up counselling for rape victims. This was precocious and superb.

Fast forward: two weeks before the election, my amoeba recognised that American women make 76 cents against every male dollar and decided to draw attention to this fact. Such is the gratitude of women that my amoeba beats the primordial sludge by as much as 10 percentage points among women in the subsequent polls. He is especially popular with single women who, needless to say, have to support themselves.

My amoeba promises improvement. He will support pay-equity legislation. (Have I been in a deep sleep? Is this 1970?) In the parlance of his campaign, he has a plan. He keeps the specifics to himself. He will also raise the minimum wage over several years from $5.15 an hour to $7 an hour which, his campaign reckons, will give 9.2 million women another $3,800 a year. How pathetic is that? He has a plan for health insurance and another plan to produce jobs and a plan to protect social security, that tiny safety net that older Americans, especially women, have against utter poverty. In any other year, this wouldn't be enough to differentiate him from the primordial sludge, because mostly it is not true. It's either the Iraq war or health care, not both.

Now look at what George W offers me. First, he gives me his middle initial: "W is for Women". I don't want his initial inscribed on me. I find the idea repugnant. He does not recognise the pay differential between men and women. On the other hand, he is against sex trafficking and has said so when addressing the UN. He has strong evangelical support for this position. He is for bringing equality to women in the Arab and Islamic world. I may want it and work for it in the US, but he and his most anti-feminist rightwing advisors, including David Frum and Richard Perle, want women's liberation in the Gulf region, and I do not mean the Gulf of Mexico. Anywhere but here seems to be the general plan.

And what is the price for these women's rights? It's a small one. Many bombs must fall and many innocents must die.

The Bush/Cheney argument for reelection comes down to this: in Iraq we have created a new site for terrorists and they are so busy there that they won't come here. Vote for us and you'll be safe. Vote for Kerry/Edwards and you'll likely die. One has a choice between massacres there or here. Vote Bush/Cheney. Choose there.

Despite the American disdain for irony, electoral politics in the US is nothing if not a lesson in irony. Richard Nixon the anti-communist went to China and ended the Vietnam war. Clinton, prince of Democratic post-liberals, joined with Republicans - in fact, led them - to get African-American single mothers kicked off welfare and to create political cover for those politicians abandoning the poor. He then had the honour of being proclaimed, by Toni Morrison no less, the first black president. And, in this land of political hallucination, maybe he was. He also may be the only black president.

What Kerry will do is this: he will get European and even Arab allies to pony up in Iraq; he will intensify the war there; he will bring in more troops. This policy will make it impossible for the Democratic candidate who follows him, or he himself if he runs again, to have anything but a pro-war policy. A rightwing Republican, maybe even a woman, plain-spoken and Reaganesque (or Thatcheresque), will triumph by promising an end to the Iraq war either four or eight years from now. He or she will deliver because the war will be over and the US and its many allies will have lost. This will be another generation's Vietnam with the blame having a certain global quality. As at his convention, Kerry the combatant will have trumped Kerry the anti-war protester.

So why is it that I'm voting for Kerry? Oh, right, it's because my Massachusetts amoeba is better than Texas primordial sludge. Make no mistake: I have regional emotions. When someone from Massachusetts, the centre of abolitionist activism, and someone from Texas, in our day and age a symbol of the Confederacy, mix it up, our civil war is being refought. Kerry represents those brilliant abolitionists - and he does it badly. Shame on him.

The thing is that I'm scared to death that Bush will win. If Bush wins, we get more terror, charmingly diverted to countries not the United States. I call that a plan. I admire its simplicity. Who said that boy is stupid? Oh, I did, a few paragraphs up: the whole Iraq/Iran confusion. Of course, being dyslexic is not the same as being stupid.

The Bush/Cheney plan is the equivalent of a moral sewer. I don't want to roll in that dirt. It's someone else's blood and it doesn't wash off (cf the Scottish play).

We dream, some of us, of being able to be good in a better world. The morally reprehensible - the Bush/ Cheney strategy - smacks us between the eyes; and then, and only then, do we vote for the lesser of two evils. But don't forget that they are two evils. Sick to my stomach because he will stay in Iraq, I'm voting for John Kerry.

· Andrea Dworkin's most recent book is Heartbreak: The Political Memoir of a Feminist Militant.











Search Our Archive

Our Site