Why elephant shouldn’t endorse Obama or Romney for President.*

Via elephant journal
on Nov 5, 2012
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I wasn’t going to endorse anyone, for three reasons. 1) while elephant is big, 1.3 million readers at our peak, our endorsement matters not-that-much. 2) Given my blogs re gay rights, women’s rights, Obama, Romney, Osama bin Laden etc etc, I don’t think my view is a surprise to anyone. 3) I treasure our blog’s bipartisanship—while we’ve received few articles from our conservative readers, I’m all about elephant bringing differing views together, not requiring or encouraging groupthink.

That said, my below endorsement is inspired by hundreds of our readers arguing with this article, an article that urges the yoga community to endorse Obama.  ~ Waylon H. Lewis, ed.

Bipartisanship doesn’t mean we have no allegiance to values. It means we never forget that we’re in this together.

One of the wonderful things about yoga, or environmentalism, or bicycling, or adventure, or family, or the arts, or education…any one of the things elephant focuses on, is that they by nature cross party lines.

What’s needed in America is less partisan news, more getting out of our own bubble, less agreeing with those we already agree with, and more big-umbrella community.

Yoga, for one, supports bipartisanship by appealing to rich and poor, minority and white, hipster and yuppie, young and old, conservative and liberal, male and female. It’s truly a force for united diversity within our greater Union.

For elephant’s part, we welcome different points of view, and articles representing that—dialogue is healthy. While our editor, yours truly, is a moderate liberal, I resist partisanship. I’ve reported nice things about McCain, about Eisenhower, I defended Bush on a few occasions, and I’ve seen Mitt Romney make a few fair points in the course of this campaign, and have said so. No: I’m liberal because I’ve looked at the party’s platforms, and I’ve looked at the two candidates, and with one I’ve seen responsible economic stewardship coupled with compassion and tolerance. And in the other I’ve seen selfishness and deceit.

So it’s not yoga’s role to endorse one candidate over the other—from a partisan point of view. But I do agree with Mr. Remski that bipartisanship does not require we leave behind our allegiance to tolerance, or fairness, or ultimately endorsing a candidate that best represents our values.

And so let what is obvious be said, clearly, in black and white. Based on gay rights, women’s rights, the economy, green domestic clean energy independence, cheaper and more humane healthcare, foreign affairs, terrorism…elephantjournal.com formally and enthusiastically endorses President Obama for another four years. He’s only the second candidate in my lifetime who I’ve heard speak with decency and heart, and he’s the first I’ve heard who combines such authenticity with a decided, fundamental lack of aggressive partisanship.

You’re not a Republican, or a Democrat. Neither am I. We’re Americans, first—in this together. We were reminded of that by Mother Nature, in the form of Hurricane Sandy.

And even before that, we are individually humans, with hearts and dreams and families and loves and triumphs and disappointments, all. And we are collectively humans—part of the big wide small world that, more than ever, requires an America to lead based on humility borne of strength, on tolerance borne of wisdom, of ideals free of aggression.

For more about why and wherefore, click any one of the contextual links above.


About elephant journal

elephant journal is dedicated to "bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society." We're about anything that helps us to live a good life that's also good for others, and our planet. >>> Founded as a print magazine in 2002, we went national in 2005 and then (because mainstream magazine distribution is wildly inefficient from an eco-responsible point of view) transitioned online in 2009. >>> elephant's been named to 30 top new media lists, and was voted #1 in the US on twitter's Shorty Awards for #green content...two years running. >>> Get involved: > Subscribe to our free Best of the Week e-newsletter. > Follow us on Twitter Fan us on Facebook. > Write: send article or query. > Advertise. > Pay for what you read, help indie journalism survive and thrive.


36 Responses to “Why elephant shouldn’t endorse Obama or Romney for President.*”

  1. Ben_Ralston says:

    Haha! Good one, love the photo.
    Now if you could just get it signed… 🙂

  2. The middle way is not void of a position, in fact it's position is clear. This election is not whether Romney or Obama occupy the White House in January, but whether or not the rights of every person, not just the few, be defended and upheld as sacred as the next. Anyone who doesn't see that, does not belong espousing some kind of unique insight. Human suffering is real and compounds in this Nation and around the World. The solution to this suffering is not an economic one, but rather a moral one. The economy is merely the result of an immoral agenda that has been upheld in America for too long. The choice is which candidate presents the best opportunity to bring this immoral reign in government to an end.

  3. mariavlong says:

    Well done, Love this!

  4. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Hey Waylon, I always appreciate your willingness to present both sides. I mean, it's not your fault if you don't actually get much from another side. And I respect your right to campaign vigorously for Pres. Obama. I mean, as I understand it, EJ is yours, right?

    But of course, I always have to jump in with a little reminder to anyone reading…

    Both major parties and candidates support the American war machine and the American gulag. I realize you have to get practical in politics. But that's quite a jump for someone who believes in ahimsa.

    Or maybe it's not a jump. I detect from your last line (lead with strength) that you might actually support the American war machine, or would if it's called by a nicer name? But you can't "lead with strength" (which normally means, through the American military) and at the same time, do it according to "ideals free of aggression."

    So do you actually mean leading through a string of military bases around the world? Come to think of it, I don't recall ever seeing a denunciation of that, just support for any "good" person to be in charge of it.

  5. elephantjournal says:

    I don't support war, no one does (or should). War is hell.

    I particularly don't support civilian deaths—no one does (or should).

    I'm personally sympathetic to many of your viewpoints, and have appreciated your willingness to, by name, not anonymous, offer another pov and more info in many of my political posts, and to do so largely without rancor.

    I'm never happier than come Christmastime, when I see mainstream Judeo-Christian America, old school America, remember that we used to and hopefully still do care about Peace on Earth. And I think Obama has helped the machine head that direction, particularly in comparison to Romney, who would overfund the military based on what they've asked for. And I appreciate that Obama, unlike Bush, does a better job taking care of our veterans when they come home.

  6. paul says:

    a final debate between Johnson and Stein tonight, livestreamed at 9-10:30pm Eastern time (8 Central/ 7 Moujavascript:%20postComment(0);ntain/ 6 Pacific) on the Free & Equal website, http://freeandequal.org/events/final-presidential

  7. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Hey again. First reaction, nice response.

    But then I got to thinking. You (and i mean by 'you' most readers and contributors) are against war. But are you against the war machine? Against foreign bases? Against America being the "leader of the free world"?

    It's actually very easy to just be agsinst war. EVERYONE is against war. The only president I can think of off hand who thought war was good, that the nation needed one regularly, was Teddy Roosevelt. All other presidents, including all post-WW II presidents, the onew who have been in charge of the international American war machine, have been against war. As it turns out, it's very easy to go to war if you are only "against war." But what's your position on the war machine? The Swiss, for example, are not only against war, but against aggressive war machines. The Consistuion intends the same for the US. Simply being against war is not enough. You have to be against what makes war possible.

    Obama (and of course Romney) is "against war" but he is in favor of America policing the world. He was before he became president and he still is now that he is president. To a libertarian, that makes him and any of his supporters pro-war. And anti-ahimsa.

  8. Truth says:

    Well, at least this was somewhat of a positive endorsement that listed the reasons why you are voting for Obama, unlike others who only list reasons to keep Romney from office.

    Personally, I can’t in good conscious vote for Obama or Romney. I think you have to have deal breakers and both have them in spades. So I’ll vote Gary Johnson. Jill Stein almost persuaded me, but at the end of the day I lean libertarian.

    “A wasted vote is a vote for someone you don’t believe in.” Gary Johnson

  9. Timmy_Robins says:

    Hi Mark!

    Im curious, what do you propose then? Even if the day came when a third party won the election , the American war machine and the American gulag would most probably not be dismantled.

    In my opinion it is imposible to not harm anyone when it comes to politics… And I also think in this day and age government and the military are nesessary for obvious reasons.

    Going back to a pre-state era would be catastrophic, you know that , right?

    What do you think?

  10. elephantjournal says:

    They're worth watching…though I'd support them far more enthusiastically if, like Nader or Perot, they gathered some real backing.

  11. elephantjournal says:

    Amen, and thanks for the comment. I like Jill, and particularly Gary.

    That said, I do believe in Obama. I believe in equal rights, and equal pay. I believe that Obama didn't believe in Iraq, and saw Afghanistan as more necessary, and is pulling out of that war. I believe in his approach "leading from behind" to Libya. I believe in him as a father, and a human. I believe in doubling green, domestic, clean energy despite a partisan Congress. I believe in…the rest is above.

    But amen to Gary's quote: that said, it's rather convenient, the idealism some of us hold for candidates who don't stand a chance. If they won, as did Obama, you'd see the libertarians and extreme progressives hate them after the first compromise, first sign of "being part of the whole system, man."

  12. Sara Porterfield says:

    Wonderful article. The quote I've been living by this election season is from Gifford Pinchot, the first Chief of the US Forest Service, who wrote: "It is a greater thing to be a good citizen than to be a good Republican or a good Democrat." As you said, it's not that one doesn't take a side, it's that one puts the ideal of citizenship (the definition for which Obama provided at the DNC as "the idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another, and to future generations") above the ideals (or strictures?) of party or partisanship.

    My father is a fiscally conservative, socially rightward leaning kind of guy who has his political viewpoints (and very well thought out reasons for them), and consistently challenges me to think about why I believe what I believe. Not to make me change my mind, but to make sure that I've done my research and have come to my own conclusions. We've been exchanging news articles for the past few months, and today I sat down and wrote him a three page email about why I voted for Obama–with plenty of citations attributed to elephant, natch (And because as a historian I can't not cite my work, though I can and do use double negatives. Gotta know the rules to break 'em. I digress.). To me, this is the kind of dialogue necessary for a healthy and functioning democracy: one that creates citizens who see beyond party lines, beyond the labels of "Democrat" and "Republican," and that fosters a community able to see multiple perspectives whose members can draw their own, well-informed opinions.

    (However, I do live in Boulder, and hence in a swing state, and Dad lives in California, which is decidedly not a swing state…)

  13. Edie Lazenby says:

    Do I dare enter this? I am voting Obama. My dad thinks Obama is ruining the country. Until my work for EJ I knew less than I know now re: politics or current events. I find newspapers tiresome…I do like the Christian Science Monitor, or used to….I hate watching the news. I find the patterns in history, as we all well know, spiral.
    I was listening to Carolyn Myss. She talks how this country was founded by mystics, by Statesmen, not Politicians.
    I think Ahimsa is worthy but am not a Jain and death is part of a big cycle.In a utopia world maybe there would be no violence. But this is not utopia. And violence has many forms, from the war machine to disrespect of others. I don't believe others should believe what I do or live like I do and I don't like in theory how democracy gets spread thru McDonald's and other industries. Bear with me. But there is war. And if our country did not stand up for the rights of others….even though we are sometimes wrong, I don't know who would. This idea of policing the world, for our own sake, I get. And I am not into missionary work per se though they do good in places in a way….and I am not into Imperialism…but honeslty, I think this country and its citizens have more compassion than most….we do wrong. Of course…we do. We all do. Human nature is what it is.
    Tara Brach is great on this stuff…we all have fear. It is in our nervous system. We are all programmed for lack of better word, to survive. There is good and evil. There is light and Shadow. I don't think voting for someone who might make a difference is supporting the war machine. I don't think, excuse me, we have a War Machine. I know I know, defense, military spending, all that….the intentions aren't always honorable but often they are. If I could close my doors and not see who suffers….maybe I would be happier….but if we dismantle the so-called war machine, I'd like your opinions on what else would go?

  14. Timmy_Robins says:

    Not that you are talking to me but …

    It is totally clear that ahimsa and politics cant and will never be reconciled.

    Inaction or indiference can be anti-ahimsa too.

    I do think your first comment is a little bit unfair because life is more complex than just being nice or rude and you know that.

    Not that campaign promises matter much but Obama did say in the last debate that he is all for spending less money in defense and more in domestic issues like education.

  15. Auki says:

    I'm happy the campaign will be over soon (at least for a little while before the next one.) I admire and respect Ralph Nader, but think a valid argument can be made that the folks who voted for Nader in 2000 helped to throw the election to George Bush. Even though I don't agree with all of Obama's choices, I definitely do not feel that I am wasting my vote by voting for him. I think Mitt Romney, if elected, will be a global catastrophe!

  16. Truth says:

    It's not really idealism to vote for someone who doesn't have a chance. It makes a big impact if Johnson gets 5%, especially if Obama wins. Then the liberty movement in the republican party will have more leverage. Or it sets Johnson up to run in the gop primary in 2016. A Romney win would kill the liberty movement.

  17. Truth says:

    “Crowds have always undergone the influence of illusions. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim.” – Gustave Le Bon

  18. paul says:

    A +1 for Obama from some shamans http://www.canada.com/news/Obama+gets+endorsement+from+s...

    "LIMA, Peru – A group of self-described Peruvian shamans are predicting the re-election of U.S. President Barack Obama — and are trying to help it along.
    The 12 medicine men and women in traditional Andean dress gathered Monday at the top of Lima's San Cristobal hill, where they burned incense and rubbed a poster of Obama with flowers and the plant common rue, which is supposed to bring luck.
    Meanwhile, a poster of challenger Mitt Romney was assaulted with maracas and a sword as the shamans sang, whistled and danced in a circle for journalists, who came and went as the ceremony continued.
    The group has staged similar rituals for the press ahead of major sports events and Peruvian elections."

  19. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Truth, excellent points that I had never considered!

  20. Mark Ledbetter says:

    What do I propose? Vote libertarian. The president doesn't have direct power to do a lot of things but there are two areas where he does. 1. He can make and stop wars, unconstitutional, though that power is, without approval of Congress. 2. He can pardon people, this time constitutionally. I think the gulag would be largely dismantled if we voted in someone who had made that his mission. Semi-ditto for the war machine, but the Mil-Indus Complex intentionally has job-creating industries in every congressional district in the country. So it would be harder. But once you start pulling out of other countries, it'll be harder to justify the defense budgets. Beyond those two things, a Lib Prez might not be able to do much. As one (libertarian?) candidate once said, "trying to change the country from the White House is like trying to move a mountain by pushing on the top of it."

    And rest assured. Yes, I threw in a few kind words for poor ole Somalia on another thread, but I can't see anarchy ever working if we had it, or govt. ever self-dissolving.

  21. shannon says:

    also voting lib. wish more people wouldve considered a thrid party as opposed to thinking its a "throwaway" vote. if more folks believed johnson was the best choice – they should just vote for him,. maybe its a waste, i admit.. but at least i'll be able to slepp at night.

  22. Ethan Neville says:

    Yo Way…..from Nova Scotia….I now have a Canadian passport. Last election actually gave me a re-newed sense of pride in the good ole' US of A my native land.
    May Colorado turn BLUE–Green!
    Canada is basically a communist welfare state. I mean we have a regulated banking system and for Christ sake we have SOCIALIZED medicine.

    I do not personally know a single Canadian who can see how anyone could vote for Mitt/Ryan.

    Then again Canada has a conservative MAJORITY government with only a 1/3 of the populous supporting the PC party.

    Our ultra Conservative Prime Minister Harper would be a bleeding Liberal in the divided states of America!

    We are all watching from the sidelines….

    Thank you for your voice!

    Ethan in Halifax NS

  23. Jim says:

    I think Carolyn Myss is being overly optimistic and perhaps hasn't read much history to suggest that the founding fathers were mystics and statesmen. They argued as much as anyone does today…but didn't have tv or the internet to overwhelm us with the bullshit. Just had to remark on that.

  24. Jim says:

    I agree with the notion proposed in this article of EJ not endorsing candidates. I also take some issue with turning yoga into activism of any kind. Just unsubscribed from yoga votes and don't really like yoga classes where teachers preach to me about their personal perspective on activism (sorry Sean – I mean no disrespect). I go to yoga to breathe and do asana, to find peace within, to restore my center…and really that's it. When I can find peace I can emanate peace in the world. So in yoga class I want less chatter. Let's enter the space, hold the space, and do our practice together. Namaste'

  25. karlsaliter says:

    I like Stein, so I'm invisible.

  26. elephantjournal says:

    He may enjoy this one…fiscal liberalism works: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/10/why-im-a-f

  27. elephantjournal says:

    It's not throwaway if the leaders can really galvanize public support! It is throwaway, or worse, if their support doesn't happen.

  28. elephantjournal says:

    Each to his or her own.

  29. Anonymous says:

    When I saw this site name on Election Day, I thought, "Oh, another conservative blog." Boy, was I wrong. I almost decided not to check it out. I suspect a "true" liberal might make the same mistake… just say'in.

  30. Sara Porterfield says:

    Thanks! Sent that page in my original email supporting my argument for Obama's economic policies. Fingers crossed for the rest of the day now, though this makes it difficult to teach…

  31. Sorry4yourdog says:

    Politics can be a drug…Drugs agitate the mind…just saying.

    When people see another person who is so relaxed through all of the bullshit that happens throughout the day, some of them will look for advice on how to attain that peace…Then we get to give our testimony of how our practice works for us. A witness.

    What are we witnessing to others by getting so wrapped up in what the world is doing while we call ourselves yogis, christians, muslims, etc. While could be thinking of ways to connect with others in our spheres of influence, we seem to be spending a lot of time buying into the dreams these people are selling and trying to get others to buy into them too.

  32. Courtney says:

    You disgust me Elephant Journal. As of tonight, I have decided to officially cancel my membership. I joined this magazine as a yoga instructor, thinking this would bring me closer to the yoga community and be a great source of knowledge of the ancient art of yoga, but all I have been bombarded with for several weeks was e-mail about politics. You have shoved this down my throat further than any reputable news source I have followed. This is NOT what yoga is about and I will no longer support it. Yes, voting is important, having one's say is important, and being in control of one's life is important, but when one furiously harps on one subject over and over again, this is the opposite of yoga, and violates one's practice of bramacharya–moderation in all things–in case you have forgotten. Your political views are not moderate and neither is your obsession with them. Get over yourself and stop using the name of yoga in vain. I will happily be saving one dollar a month and will never have to worry about seeing all of your ridiculous political propaganda loitering my mailbox ever again. NAMASTE b*tches!

  33. Sarah says:

    I agree. true yogis aren't political. "you must unlearn what you've learned." plus, obsessing with politics and making fun of everyone that's not an (enter-your-candidate-here)-lover is FAAAAR from yogic. i am completely turned off by any news source that is obviously endorsing a candidate and joining in on the putting down of the other. EJ. you've done just that.

  34. matthew says:

    Courtney and Sarah: "True yogis aren't political."

    Except for these guys: http://www.yogabrains.org/politics/yogis-stand-up