Maybe it's just that I'm getting old. Or maybe I'm nothing but a hopeless corporate sellout. But for all the griping I've done about President Obama over the last four years -- his haplessness, his refusal to believe that he is not dealing with good faith operators when he attempts to appease Republicans, his appalling continuation of Bush policies on rendition and privacy, his refusal to take on Wall Street -- I'm going to be voting for him again two weeks for tomorrow. I won't be doing it with any illusions, but I'm going to do it. Because the alternative is unthinkable.
Twelve years ago, enough people were disgusted by Al Gore's then-seeming centrism and with some of the sellout of progressive values that were done during the Clinton years that they fell prey to the siren song of Ralph Nader -- a guy who made his name as an advocate for automobile safety in the early 1960's, a gadfly who has flitted from one nonprofit to another for four decades, and a pest who shows up every four years to run for president -- unwilling to do the actual work that could have made him a legitimate political force. "There's no difference," they said. Enough disillusioned voters pulled the proverbial lever for Ralph Nader in Florida in 2000 to throw that election to George W. Bush, thus setting the stage for a terrorist attack on U.S. soil that the new Bush administration did nothing to stop, two unfunded wars, the squandering of a budget surplus, and the a near-global financial collapse as the proverbial cherry on top.
No difference? Seriously?
I'm not going to say that I know everything. I supported John Edwards in the 2008 primaries, so what the hell do I know? I just knew I couldn't support Hillary Clinton for her unapologetic support for the Iraq War and for her statement at what was then "Yearly Kos" in 2007 that "lobbyists are people too." And I also felt that the charismatic first-term Senator from Illinois just hadn't seemed quite ready for prime time at that event, never mind that I just could not imagine this country electing a guy whose middle name is "Hussein." Neither of them was talking about what the Bush economy had done to the poor, and I knew that the push towards oligarchy that had been going on since the Reagan years could very well push the entire middle class into the ranks of the poor.
Then there was 2004, when GOP suppression of the vote among minorities, seniors, and the young was even more rampant
than it had been in 2000, and the corrupt Ohio Secretary of State, Kenneth Blackwell, played the role of Katherine Harris
went so far as to invent a terrorist threat that forced him to have votes counted in secret.
This is going to be a close election. Why it's going to be close, I have no idea, other than that we are living in a country that is populated by idiots whose views are colored by whatever TV talking head pulling stuff out of his ass feeds the most crap into their heads the loudest and most frequently. We live in a nation of the inattentive, the uninvolved, the apathetic, and the willfully ignorant. How there can be people who are still "undecided" at this late date is a mystery to me, unless you're talking about those who have the gun pointed at their own foot and can't decide whether to pull the trigger or not.
I'm not saying that Barack Obama is anyone's dream progressive. In 2008, when many of my friends were insisting that he was and couldn't understand why I was saying that he wasn't, no pointing out of how he sat on his hands in 2004 while the late Stephanie Tubbs-Jones pleaded for a Senator to stand with her in objecting to the certification of Ohio's election results and noting that he chose Joe Lieberman as his mentor would sway them. As Mr. Brilliant put it back then, "I think Obama will sell us out one iota less than Hillary Clinton will." But I never had any illusions about him, and it's been sort of pathetic to watch progressives over the last four years insist that there is some kind of twenty-seven-dimensional chess game going on, instead of a guy unprepared for the kind of vitriol the opposition party would throw at him, unsupported by the hacks in his own party, and possessed of a case of Chronic Reasonableness.
I'm under no illusions about an Obama second term, either. A Democratic hackocracy concerned mostly with keeping its own jobs is unlikely to get the back of a lame duck president, particularly one who isn't "one of them." As bad as the Republicans have been during the first four years, they'll be even worse in a second. Obama could try to implement the Romney/Ryan agenda in a second term and the Republicans will block it. And the racism, that festering boil on the nation's buttocks that started to ooze the minute Obama took the oath of office is going to explode, and I don't even want to think about how that will manifest, not just among the talking heads of Hate Media, but among all those racist gun nuts who I fear will take the idea of "second amendment remedies" to heart.
But what's your choice, really? Do you really want to stay home and let the Republican governors who are trying to institute vote suppression tactics the likes of which we haven't seen since the Jim Crow era choose Willard Rmoney as the next president? Do you really think that Rmoney, a guy who's in the business of sucking whatever life is left in struggling companies and then leaving the carcasses to rot, can "create jobs"? Do you really want to consign this country to the kind of feudal serfdom that Rmoney and his billionaire owners have in mind? Do you really think there's no difference?
I mean, I like what Jill Stein had to say on NPR a couple of weeks ago too. But voting for her is just plain stupid -- and it isn't even like shooting yourself in the foot, it's tearing off your own head because it's a doll revolution
Another reason to show up is down-ticket races. There are a number of decent-to-good House candidates with a very real shot at being elected -- people like Alan Grayson in Florida and Rob Zerban in Wisconsin and Tammy Duckworth in Ohio. Progressive incumbents like Sherrod Brown, also in Ohio, is fighting an onslaught of Koch brothers money and arguably the most odious Republican teabag twerp not named "Marco Rubio".
We may very well be headed off a cliff anyway, given the Democrats' haplessness and refusal to fight for anything. But I really don't want to do it yet. And if we do it, we should do it with our eyes open and recognize that to not do what little is possible to stop what the Republicans have stated quite baldly that they want to do to this country and to stop this Naderite notion that if Things Just Get Bad Enough the people will rise up and revolt. They won't. Because after all, Honey Boo Boo is on.
You may not like it, you may have to hold your nose, but you know what you have to do. Do it.
More along these lines from Daniel Ellsberg
, who knows of what he speaks.
Labels: 2012 election