Sunday, November 2, 2008

What Does Obama Have To Do To Lose Your Vote?

In my first post, I discussed what I called "Obama cynicism" and how it develops from "Obama idealism." But I didn't say a whole lot about the latter, preferring to contrast "Obama cynicism" with "Nader idealism."

My problem with Obama idealism is that it is a delusional idealism, not a progressive idealism. By calling it delusional I mean that many Obama supporters are, by now, willing to accept Obama no matter what. They will forgive him anything as long as he continues his positive, idealistic rhetoric. Nader supporters, however, tend to be progressive idealists. I'll explain that in a bit.

Now, I realize this post sounds kind of hostile overall, but I really don't mean to bash the Obama idealists too much. After all, I fell for the hype too, just like I initially fell for the Kerry hype four years ago (more on that in my next post). I'm not some revolutionary wannabe who'll vote third party just to buck the system or whatever, and it's hard to operate in this culture without one of the major-party candidates being sort of a default. But then I saw, time after time, how Obama just isn't living up the change he's been promising. I mentioned some issues in my first post, but Matt Gonzalez, Nader's running mate, has produced an excellent writeup that every Obama supporter needs to read. Seriously, folks. You owe it to yourself. This is the kind of thing you'll want to have read before you vote. It would be irresponsible to vote for Obama without reading it.

I hope Gonzalez's piece changes some minds. But I'm guessing that some of you, even after reading it, are still leaning toward Obama. Just consider the following question. Which is more likely: that Nader wins the presidency, or that Obama wins and suddenly starts living up to the progressive policies he preaches, even though he's taken every opportunity to disavow and/or disregard those policies since he won the Democratic nomination? Some of you will think the latter is more likely, but also consider that a vote for Nader is a vote for truly progressive politics. And a vote for Nader is a vote that will show the Democrats that they need to start doing more than pay lip service to the progressive ideals with which they so badly want to be associated. So if you want to see the Democrats get serious about these issues, it makes sense to vote for Nader.

That's what I mean by "progressive idealism"--the idea that even if Nader loses, every vote he gets represents an advancement, however small, for the cause of progressive politics. I mean, most of my friends have been voting Democrat for about eight years now. I ask them, are you better off now than you were eight years ago? Do you feel that the political culture in this country is more liberal now than it was eight years ago? If not, maybe it's time to try something new.

And remember one other thing: the impact of corporations. Obama's campaign is heavily funded by large corporations, and Biden is well known for supporting corporate interests. These corporations are giving money to a candidate, like they do every election, with the expectation that the candidate will remember that when in office and govern accordingly. In other words, corporations are using financial influence to get their candidate to support their interests. We don't have the money to compete with the corporations financially. But we have something more important--votes. And unless you use your vote to hold Obama accountable for the promises he's broken, you're letting the corporations have their way and mold him into the type of big-business-friendly candidate they'd like to see.

For Obama supporters, it comes down to what message you want to send with your vote. By voting for Obama you send the message that it's OK for the Democrats to take your vote for granted. You send the message that you don't mind if the Democrats move politically even further toward the right, and that it doesn't matter whether they really try to enact progressive, liberal policies. By voting for Nader, though, you put the Democrats on notice. You let them know that you don't appreciate how they've taken the liberal vote for granted, gotten into bed with big business interests, and abandoned liberal policies in an attempt to lure voters from traditionally Republican-leaning demographics.

So if you consider yourself a liberal, if you support traditional Democratic values, if you don't like the huge influence that big corporations have on our political system, and if you are tired of right-leaning politics dominating the political discourse in this country--ask yourself which is a more effective vote: a vote for Obama, or a vote for Nader. In the light of what I've said here, I hope you'll come to the same conclusion I have and proudly cast your vote for Nader.

If you still can't seem to bring yourself to vote for Nader because you don't like his chances, then please look at my next post, which will address this issue.


  1. Hmm...I wouldn't really consider myself an 'idealist;' Obama is a politician and so I pretty much disregard everything he says. Still, he seems like a nice enough guy and I live in Texas, so my vote doesn't count anyway. I'm sure there are all sorts of arguments that could be made about 'mandates' and 'showing the power of [insert issue here] as something politicians need to address' but that sort of reasoning has always struck me as an attempt by people to prove that they have some sort of influence in a process over which they really don't have any influence at all. After all, when the elections are over and done with, no one but the voters will remember or care about campaign promises and most of said voters will get distracted by the next flashy thing to get dragged out in front of the zeitgeist magpie and in another four years it'll happen all over again. I guess that makes me more of a cynic than anything else.

    I did the 'Obama Rally' thing primarily to piss off a friend of mine who was rallying for McCain, *Cough.* I'm not what you'd call socially responsible...


  2. Haha. Yep, you do sound like a cynic. Cynics don't really bother me like the people I talked about in my first post, who let cynicism distort their idealism. They'll defend Obama because of his views (or what they think his views are) on the issues, but when it comes to Nader, suddenly issues aren't good enough.

  3. Hey Rob,

    I can only comment briefly on the parts of the link you posted, and haven't been able to read the entirety of your post because for reasons you know about: I can't sit too long.

    The important points that mattered to me seem to leave out a couple details and even make some assumptions.

    Off Shore Drilling: Obama has said he will consider off-shore drilling, but has in no way confirmed or dedicated himself to this plan of action as far as I know, and the writeup makes a bit of a jump. Here is a less vague description of what he may be willing to compromise, which we all know is essential in the democratic process:

    But I am talking out of my @$$ here, but I would think it be vital to save those resources for a real emergency of war... Say we have no oil, our military runs on oil, then we need to go in there and it MIGHT help keep some vital military lifelines. But its ignorant to think that our reserves would really help us. If anything I would think he would only approve limited offshore drilling as a compromise to focus more resources than we have now on renewable energy sources. It's all about money, and the oil companies are such a big cancer I would think it would be impossible to cut them out completely and so quickly. This is what I hope, but its a complicated mess out there.

    Afghanistan: I may be wrong but the approach we are taking to Afghanistan doesn't seem comparable to the previous attempts at essentially trying to control the region. I pretty much agree with what I know about Obama's Afghan policy, I think we should do more in the region while we can. I think we had done some good there, and the possibility of us making positive change there seems likely to me. The current situation with Pakistan is very tense and adds a whole new spin on things, but if he sticks to his word about his international diplomacy intentions (which he hasn't necessarily extended towards Pakistan), I would hope we might change things a little for the better.

    Iraq: The section on Iraq is very misleading and even seems organized with the intent of confusing the reader. The surge is a very politically tricky issue. From my understanding, the surge of troop levels coincided with a decrease in violence to the areas those troops where deployed. However, recently, a columnist who released a book (I wish I could remember his name, he was on Bill Maher recently), spoke about how the real reason violence decreased was because of "new" tactics the military deployed, that were confirmed by the Whitehouse, but are classified. Essentially, the Whitehouse admitting they did something they aren't telling us in addition to the surge that was the real reason for a decrease in violence.

    This is a godsend for McCain, because he can continually sucker punch Obama about "doubting" the surge, and still not "admitting" the surge worked, and Obama really has no defense because he is not at liberty to say, or may not even know what tactics specifically they used, depending on what committees he sits on. To go into details trying to explain classified tactics without saying what they actually where could potentially put him in a real spot of weakness for McCain to pounce on. It seems that Obama has conceded that violence did indeed reduce, but even now opposes the "surge" tactic employed.

    As far as the keeping forces in Iraq, he has said we will withdrawal all of them, aside from the security force mentioned, within 16 months. The quote taken from the debate was simply convenient because he did not finish his statement or explanation for whatever reason, or he accidentally used the word "within" instead of "over". I couldn't find any other source that concurred with this new interpretation stated on the writeup... I think it was just misspoken and taken advantage of.

    The contractors are there to stay no matter what he wants, because if he immediately withdrew them, our troops would be so amazingly screwed. So he has to deal with the mess he inherits, and that forces his hand to do things he may not necessarily want to do.

    Now the second and third paragraph in the writeup seem to imply that: 1) He will not support banning private contractors, 2) He will keep a substantial number of private contractors as a military body within Iraq. I think this leads the reader to believe "Hey, he said he wanted to withdrawal, but he is just going to replace our troops with a huge amount of military contractors!" And again we leave on a note of "leaving" forces in Iraq.

    Obama as of yet has stated the number of "strike force" troops left in Iraq after our withdrawal will be dependent on the advice of his military advisers. So, we don't know.

    As far as the Russet interview done more than a year ago, I think his policy has become more concretely outlined, and if anything, more geared towards getting as many troops out as we can.

    But here is another good link that explains his position a little better and his website explains his policy differently than the writeup too, but you may not consider that credible:

    Patriot Act: Yeah that sucks... But to me the most important things are stop so much senseless killing (although depending on your view Afghanistan may also be senseless killing), stabilize the economy, and education.

    I'll try and get to the rest tonight. And excuse any of my misspellings, run on sentences, fragments, etc., I can't re-read what I just wrote. Thanks for making this post its been really helpful.


  4. On the drilling issue: clever phrasing. McCain, of course, hasn't "confirmed or dedicated himself" to drilling either. Like Obama, he was "against it before he was for it." The candidates have similar views on the issue.

    The question is not really whether he's in favor of drilling; there was already a ban on it, both candidates just decided to get rid of the ban. The point, though, is that Obama had previously spoken quite critically of drilling, and people who believed him then, and agreed that it was a terrible idea, environmentally and economically, ought to be a little disturbed.

    On Afghanistan: Be glad you're not a spokesman for Obama. If you were, you might have cost him some votes by saying he doesn't want to "control the region." He wants to win the war, and you cannot win a guerrilla war without controlling the region. Unfortunately, as Gonzalez correctly points out, no invading army has ever been able to control that region.

    Obama wants to send ten thousand more troops to Afghanistan. If you think that's going to win the war, well, you have a disagreement with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who says this war cannot be won militarily. You also disagree with the top general on the ground there, who says he needs more than twice as many troops as that to continue.

    It's interesting that you don't note any specifics about what good we've done there, or what sort of positive change is likely if current trends continue. Care to elaborate?

    On Iraq: The section in the article really doesn't seem deliberately confusing; maybe it's a little hard to follow because there are a lot of quotes integrated in the text. In a nutshell, the view attributed to Obama here is: "The surge worked, so let's keep the military there, and let's keep the private security companies there too." Is that unfair to Obama? Maybe; he's recently been saying he wants not only to keep the troops there, but also to send more. But that's another matter.

    I'm not sure what you mean when you say the surge is "politically tricky." If you get more boots on the ground, of course you can increase stability for a while, especially if you pay our enemies lots of cash money not to attack us. It doesn't change the fact that the area is a time bomb.

    McCain "sucker punching" Obama on the surge? You must be thinking of the Obama from six months ago. Obama's said multiple times that he was wrong about the surge, that it did work.

    You're right, Obama has said he would withdraw all troops within sixteen months. But that was before he changed his mind, of course. Notice a pattern?

    I didn't read the contractor section the way you did.

    And again, you're right. Obama's policy did become more concrete after the Russert statement. He started to demand this sixteen-month timetable. Some people say that's what got him the nomination. But the point is that that's not what he says now. That Washington Post link is months old, and I don't know if you've actually been to his website, but the sixteen-month thing isn't on there either. Have you not been following the campaign? Even in the primaries he was backing down on the sixteen-month thing.