Obama is our only choice
Even though John Kerry barely distinguished himself from the neocon positions in 2004, I wanted him to win. The slogan was “anybody but Bush,” and that captures the country’s desperation to get out from under the shallow fratboy’s shadow and to dislodge his disgusting criminal friends and handlers.
John Kerry did win, just as Al Gore did in 2000. But the election was awarded to Bush again, and this time we knew what we were in for – four more years of terror warmongering, constitution shredding, economy screwing, and general empowerment of ignorance across the land.
Like many, I wasn’t so much for Kerry as I was against Bush. So when Kerry windsurfed his way through the campaign, failing to defend himself from attacks or to assert liberal values, and then topped that off by ignoring the scandalous discrepancy between exit polls and vote counts in Ohio, I was incensed. Like Gore, he never really stood for anything. He was a cipher, a cardboard cutout for the Republicans to run over with the smug assurance that the country was theirs.
And yet, we had to have him in the White House. Bush had to be repudiated. Even though Kerry is no champion of the people, and is in fact far from it, his defeat felt like a cold slap of triumph for all things small, ugly and pig ignorant. It was a dark day when the votes were finalized.
Four years later, we’re at the same precipice, coming to understand that empires fall in a series of stomach-turning drops, not all at once after an election. And yet once again, there is the feeling that we can’t survive another four years of right-wing braying and wallowing in the gutter. Although we made it through the last four, that’s small consolation to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. And there’s the rub, because a Kerry presidency would have featured the same pain of occupation. But as much as we’d like a president to implement full withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, followed by reparations and diplomacy, it’s not going to happen. Our political and general culture can’t support that kind of drastic redirection. There’s no general will, or at least it is not apparent in the populace.
When I step back and look at this situation, I see two contradictory courses of action open to us. One is to abandon the Democratic party, support the third party of your choice and other independents, and make the Democrats pay for their collusion with the drift to the right and the emasculation of the left. They are too comfortable with the system the way it is – corporate control of government and media leading to poor government, gutted regulations, and a vicious dumbing down and coarsening of our country. Their strategy seems to be to pretend to represent the people hurt by this while also pretending that there’s nothing they can do, because, after all they have to get elected in this deplorable environment. And who else is going to do anything about it?
With that kind of strategy, they have a perpetual lock on voters who just want to make the pain go away. There’s no need to actually work to enact changes that can accomplish that, and in any case, that is a risky course, because it requires action and leadership, while the faux fighter pose only requires acting ability and the machinery to rake in corporate campaign loot. After all, even if many see through the charade, where are they going to go? It’s a two-party system, us or them.
The other course is the one so ridiculed by progressives, myself included, and that is to get Democrats elected and hope they can begin to move the country back to socially conscious government regulation and, it is dreamed, a just foreign policy.
In the Ralph Nader candidacy, I see both strategies at work. Nader is trying to keep the idea of independent and alternative views alive, and he is running for President not as a spoiler or because his ego demands such ultimate gratification, but as a figurehead for grassroots organizing. And if Democrats are ever going to abandon rope-a-dope and start swinging, he is both pressuring them to do so and building a structural and cultural foundation for its manifestation.
In some ways, Obama is also building such a foundation, with his impressive organizing across all 50 states. And in his rhetoric, he is a liberal spokesman. Nader calls him the best liberal evangelist we’ve had in 50 years. But Nader also points out he has done little to back up the vision he paints. Perhaps he wants to and this is his way forward. Marc Lord pens an essay
that makes a solid case for the Obama approach, pointing out that he is already setting a new, less batshit course for our foreign policy, although still characterized by oil lust and Israel appeasement.
But at present I support Nader, as it is a way to show there are those in this country that will back a representative that articulates and fights for a type of society that respects and supports people of all economic levels and beliefs. And yet I will also relish an Obama victory in November. I know that is contradictory, but an Obama victory will be regarded as a defeat for right wing extremists, and they must lose
. Rightly or wrongly, Obama is a liberal standard bearer. So I will cast my vote for him.
(On a Diebold machine that is easily compromised, and there again is the conundrum, because what Democrat has done anything about it?)
As soon as I leave the polling place, I’ll continue to try to find a way to make my efforts on the ground lead to a better world, with the hope that it makes it that much more likely that at some point in a future I can’t see, a leader of a party, any party, takes steps to bring this country at least a little closer to its enormous promise.
to Joe Bageant mines the same vein.