At the end of last semester, someone who was coordinating the group at UT helping with Barack Obama's reelection campaign came up to me and asked if I would like to help. My first reaction was an excited, "Yes, of course!" I've supported Obama since way back in the first Democratic primary, when he was competing for the Democratic nomination for the 2008 presidential election. I was overjoyed when he won, thinking of how, under Bush, my dad had been laid off and how there was so much death and so many lies on the news. I thought maybe Obama would change all that.
But then flash-forward to 2012 when I, now at an eligible age to vote, am being asked to actively help reelect this politician who was my symbol for "hope" and "change" for so long. But immediately after my initial reaction of "Yes of course!" I thought, "Wait ... I can't do this." There are too many things Obama has done horribly and morally wrong for me to be able to go out there and say, "You should definitely vote for Barack Obama."
I have loved a lot of things Obama has done. He has supported equal pay for women, expanded the protection of hate crime laws for LGBT and disabled people, and he has made fantastic first steps in reforming the health care system.
But there are too many things Obama has compromised on, done in secret, or forced on people.
It took him way too long to repeal "Don't ask, don't tell." He didn't come out in support of gay marriage quickly enough, and still today he says he supports it, but is making no movements toward making it a legal right in every state.
He signed the National Defense Authorization Act, which affirms the executive branch's power to indefinitely detain anybody suspected to be a danger to the US, including its own citizens. He also signed the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act, which allows the government to make protesting illegal anywhere as long as they place some Secret Service members in the general vicinity.
But worst of all are these drone attacks in the Middle East. As a candidate, Obama promised to bring accountability and proper oversight to counter-terrorism efforts. He said that "justice is not arbitrary," and that laws must be followed when interacting with nations overseas.
But these drone attacks have arbitrarily killed thousands of people. And even worse, in order to alter their citizen casualty statistics, Obama's administration has changed the definition of "citizen."
These drone wars alone have killed more people than the number that died on 9/11. I'm sure he has some sort of reasoning, but I can't understand how anything could ever make this okay. It makes me sick to my stomach just thinking about Obama's disregard for human life when that life is Muslim and out of our direct view. How can I bring myself to vote for a man who has murdered thousands?
But I look at the other option in this election, and it becomes easier to cast my vote. Romney and the Republicans have tried to turn Obama into some domestic terrorist with a radical agenda. They have tapped into people's deep-seeded racism, making claims that he's not from here, that he's not one of us. Romney lauds freedom except when it comes to a woman's body or a man's right to love whomever. Romney treats foreign people and large swaths of American citizens as radical traitors to the American ideal. At least Obama only treats some foreign people like that. Ugh.
This isn't how democracy is supposed to be. This shouldn't be a choice between bad and worse.
— Lindsay Lee is a junior in mathematics. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.