People, Not Politicians

Early voting in Ohio, 2022

Pranav Jani

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When I went for early voting today here in Ohio, planning to vote for the Dem slate, I wasn’t smiling one bit.

But something happened at the very end that reminded me of what I truly value, and how change will come.

Can you blame me for not smiling and feeling angry? I felt hoodwinked and trapped.

There I was, an Asian American leftist, about to vote for a xenophobic and anti-Asian Tim Ryan. I see Ryan signs saying “Workers First!” and I can’t help adding the edit: “White Workers First!”

There I was, an advocate for Palestine, about to vote for adamantly pro-Zionist Joyce Beatty — a perspective that, to take one example, earned her the support of Pro-Israel America. The US, under a Dem president and with wide Dem support is actively supplying weapons and aid to the ongoing and current repression in Palestine — including targeting resistance fighters.

Tim Ryan’s 2022 campaign signs say “Workers First.” But his xenophobic, protectionist rhetoric forces us me to read it as “White Workers First.”

And then there’s lesser known facts that made me livid. Everywhere I turn, I see ads for Julie Lynch as some sort of racial justice advocate. We know of the racial micro aggressions that have been part of the campaign. But then I found she’s also endorsed by FOP Lodge 9 — the police “union” that includes most Columbus area police and regularly defends those who’ve murdered Black civilians. My goodness.

For many years, I went with my conscience and beliefs. I either voted for the Green Party or didn’t vote for people I didn’t believe in. I didn’t vote Democrat, and I argued with other leftists and progressives that if they didn’t believe in the Democrats, they shouldn’t vote for them either.

I’ve changed my practices but let me clarify something.

I will always defend the right of people to vote left of Dem and not put them down as “purists” and “dreamers” or blame them for being responsible for the rise of the right — when it’s Democrats like Ryan who are paving the path for Trumpism. I won’t blame the fairly powerless far left for a system that is rigged to not give us real alternatives.

In such a formulation, the Dems can do no wrong. If they shift right it’s because they need to in order to win, and the left must simply obey. That’s a formula for always keeping…

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Pranav Jani

Assoc Prof, English, Ohio St (postcolonial/ethnic studies). Social justice organizer. Writer, speaker. Desi. Family guy. Singer. Wannabe cook. He/him. @redguju.