A posting by Terri Lee on ZBlogs put forth a call to boycott the 2012 elections. While I absolutely share the belief that there needs to be a culture of resistance and a challenge to corporate control of the two parties, I think an election boycott is not the correct strategy to achieve these goals. To be clear, I am by no means putting Obama on a pedestal as the leader of a progressive movement and he has often pursued terrible policies. He is a centrist Democrat as connected to corporate power as being president requires.
Nonetheless, I think a Romney presidency would be far worse in terms of the damage he would do to most Americans. Paul Ryan’s plan to make Medicare a voucher system is guaranteed to shift medical costs to seniors. While a single-payer system would be preferable, Obama’s health care reform does more than Romney would ever do to prevent insurance companies from denying claims to people with preexisting conditions. Obama is far more likely to promote a government stimulus to the economy than Romney.
While in the long term I would like to see something like Participatory Economics replace capitalism and am fully aware that Obama is part of an unfair capitalist system, electing him will do less harm to average Americans. There are other ways to build a culture of resistance, such as supporting worker cooperatives.
On another level, in 2008, only 57% of eligible voters voted in the presidential election. That means 43% of the population was already boycotting the election. Increasing that number is only useful if there is some other political or social activity for them to be engaged in, whether it be the union movement, worker co-op movement or anything else.