Rethinking the PUMA Position

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I’ve been trying on the idea of voting for Obama and I just can’t get into it. It’s not because he’s not a woman; I just don’t have confidence in him. OK, I’ll say it: I just don’t trust him.

Hillary supporters who have gone on record as saying that they will not vote for Obama now that Hillary is out of the running have been accused of hurting the Democratic Party. Their reply is, “Party Unity My Ass!” (hence the name PUMA). I question those who are going to switch parties and vote for McCain, just to keep Obama out of office. Voting against someone seems like such a negative way to use the right to vote.

And besides, I’m leery of John McCain, too, although I trust him more than I do Obama. I can’t quite swallow voting Republican. I don’t know anything about the Independent Party. And I’m morally and ethically opposed to not voting at all. One’s vote ought to make a statement.

Instead of excoriating PUMAs, critics ought to consider the dilemma in which they find themselves. Do they go with the devil they know, the lesser of two (or more) evils, the status quo or the party line? I think they’re frustrated because voting should be about making your voice heard, and when there are no good choices, what means of self-expression do they have?

Discussions about who is betraying the Party are counter-productive. Instead we ought to be asking ourselves if the Party has been loyal to us. Is it worthy of our allegiance or just a concept that we’d like to believe in? I know that I’ve often been uncomfortable with things the Democratic Party has done or not done, said or not said. But because I agree with most of its principles and far fewer of the Republican Party’s, I’ve felt more comfortable calling myself a Democrat. But aren’t I first and foremost an individual? Maybe I ought to be asking what my values are, not my party’s, and then acting accordingly.

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Ellen Keim

Ellen is a freelance writer, essayist and copy editor, living with three cats and a husband in Columbus, OH.

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