My Voter Guide, pt 1: Georgia US Senate Race

A few days ago, I decided that I would make a voter guide based on my sample ballot, and share it with my folks.  It was intended to be something that you could print out and take with you to the polls.  However, when I started doing the research and writing, the guide started to get kind of long.  So, I figured I would share the full content as a series here on the blog, and then create a condensed version that is printable.  Here is the intro text and the first part of the guide.  Enjoy!

Be Accountable or Be Gone: A People’s Voter Guide

Once upon a time, I was introduced to the concept of grassroots voter guides by the League of Pissed Off Voters (later, the League of Young Voters).  Voter guides are a way to encourage people to turn out to the polls, and to help folks in our communities make informed choices in that voting booth.  It is with this intention that I present this guide to you.  With midterm elections quickly approaching, I realized that I was not prepared.  I had seen some ads, read a few articles, but could not call myself an informed voter.  Failing to find an existing guide, I figured I’d develop my own.

In this guide, you will find brief explanations of the offices and/or amendments up for grabs this election.  For each office, I have provided summaries of the candidates’ political positions, voting records, and histories.  After the summaries, you will find my pick for the office and my reasoning.  For ballot measures, you will find an explanation of the measure, along with my vote and reasoning.

Important things to know:

  1. YOU DON’T HAVE TO VOTE THE WAY I DO.  We may not have the same politics.  That’s okay.  You may not agree with my picks.  That’s okay too.  Just disregard my picks, and use the summary information to inform your own vote.
  2. You can take this guide with you when you vote.  Let this remind you of how you decided to vote so that you are not flustered when you get in the booth.  Alternatively, you can jot down your votes on a sample ballot or a sheet of paper to bring with you.
  3. Share with your people.  This is free info!  Make copies, pass them around, spread far and wide.

Who I am

My name is Tamika.  I’m a mama, a  community organizer, a writer, a homeschooler, a performer, a birthworker.  I live here in Atlanta.  I’ve been involved in activism around voting rights, prisons and policing, reproductive justice, birth justice, and racial and economic justice.  I believe in liberation for all people, and I believe that liberation for all of us requires the liberation of the most oppressed.  I believe in examining the places where oppressions intersect, and fighting on those front lines.  I believe that there are many places for each of us to enter, and many roles for all of us to play, all of which are valuable.  I believe that we should get in where we fit in.

The vote is one place for folks to get in.  It’s a start, a means, but not an end.  This voter guide is my contribution to helping folks enter a movement for liberation.  It is an attempt to hold politicians accountable.  To let elected officials know who has the power.  But we don’t stop when we leave the booth. We build power in our communities every day. We advocate for our needs during the legislative session. We call our legislators, stop by their offices, protest in the Capitol steps, whatever we need to do to remind them of who we are.  And we organize, organize, organize. Because “we who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.”

US Senate

Michelle Nunn (left) and David Perdue (right); Getty Images/AP Images

In the US Senate race, we have three candidates who couldn’t be more different:  David Perdue (Republican), Michelle Nunn (Democrat), and Amanda Swafford (Libertarian).  The two major party candidates pretty much toe their party lines.  Perdue believes in the free market, wants to remove regulations on business, and is against raising the minimum wage.  He is anti-gun control legislation, anti-same sex marriage, and anti-choice, but pro-Israel.  His views on the Affordable Care Act are unclear.  On immigration, he touts “border security” and believes that children born here to undocumented parents should not get citizenship.  He is running on his business experience, so it’s worth noting that his company has been sued for gender pay discrimination.

Michelle Nunn, like Perdue, wants to lower the corporate tax rate.  She believes in increasing the minimum wage, extending unemployment insurance and supports the Paycheck Fairness Act.  On immigration, she wants to expand pre-k, reduce the cost of childcare and allow parents to write off childcare expenses, and promote low cost, low interest student loans.  Nunn is campaigning for transparency around fracking, affordable and sustainable energy,  and combating climate change, but supports the Keystone pipeline.  She is pro-choice, and believes states should decide on gay marriage.  Also like Perdue, she is pro-Israel, but differs in her belief that people held as “terrorism” suspects should be allowed constitutional rights.  Nun is in favor of Medicaid expansion, and believes we should fix the Affordable Care Act.  On immigration, she believes in a pathway to citizenship that requires folks currently living in the US to learn English and pay back taxes.

Amanda Swafford; Courtesy Swafford for US Senate

The third party candidate Amanda Swafford hits most of the typical Libertarian talking points.  She wants to abolish the IRS and the Department of Education, eliminate the corporate income tax and estate tax, and end the Federal Reserve.  She touts the 2nd amendment, and wants to open up healthcare to the free market.  Swafford believes the US should privatize Social Security, get rid of welfare and the minimum wage altogether, and leave the United Nations.  She also supports legalizing medical marijuana and opening access to alternative healthcare options.  On foreign policy, Swafford wants the US to end all foreign aid, including to Israel and withdraw from Afghanistan.  She believes in a simple path to citizenship for the undocumented, a revised guest worker program with no cap on the number of visas, and fines back taxes, and a probationary term for those already living in the US.  Additionally, she believes undocumented folks should have access to private (though not public) health coverage, and be able to participate in any activities requiring government ID, and that children born in the US should be granted citizenship.  Swafford is pro-choice.  Believing in states’ rights and the private sector, she believes that states should decide on the death penalty, employers should decide on including birth control in insurance coverage, and research should be left to the private sector.

My Vote:  I’m not crazy about any of these candidates (not that I expected to be).  Perdue is essentially the antithesis of everything I stand for.  Swafford’s only pros are being pro-choice and her views on alternative health care models.  Nunn is pro-Israel and for some reason believes that requiring people to learn English to become citizens is sound policy.

I’ll probably write-in Cynthia McKinney.