Good morning/afternoon/evening/whatever-the-hell-time-it-is-where-you-are, my beloved Many Tens of Loyal Readers™. Are you excited to find out which conservative corporatist warmonger will sit in the White House for the next four years? I KNOW I SURE AM.
A few updates related to my post from yesterday:
Although I did point out the fact that the president is “a Wall Street-serving corporatist, a radical and lawless executive, and an unrepentant, murderous warmonger very much like his predecessor,” somehow I just didn’t think to call him the “prime ‘dominatrix’ of the liberal class” like Chris Hedges did. I guess I had better up my game, huh? Although in a twisted way, that’s really a compliment to the president. To the “liberal class”? Well, not so much.
[h/t Steve Jonas MD, MPH]
Also, I wish to call attention to the fact that I did magnanimously refrain from telling Obama voters who are under the (entirely unsupported) impression that they will be able to pressure Barack Obama or any other conservative Democrat leftward after they are safely reelected “to go fuck themselves.” But Palace favorite vastleft didn’t hold back:
The Real Work
If Obama wins, and you didn’t push for a Democratic primary challenge or a left third-party vote or a non-vote… when you post your smarmy “now the real work begins” thing on Wednesday, I respectfully suggest that the real work for you is to go fuck yourself.
Frankly, I am astonished at the sheer volume of propaganda, illogic and false narratives that have taken hold. The very worst of course is “Liberals must vote for Democrats no matter what they do,” because that one ensures the death of the country by a thousand cuts. But it’s the specific falsehoods, the ones that are so easily refuted with a quick Google search, that truly mystify me. That Obama and Romney are so radically different on Social Security. Or foreign policy. Yesterday, someone actually told me that the ACA (“Obamacare”) was the greatest healthcare legislation in U.S. history. Really? Better than Medicare and Medicaid? Do you want single-payer healthcare? “Yes.” Then you are necessarily going to have to stop voting for Democrats who don’t.
I want to add a note of sincere thanks to SJ for prompting me to take this journey. He is a brilliant, witty and insightful correspondent, and I credit our conversations for focusing my thoughts on this topic (and many others). Alas, I have not convinced him of my case. Nor have I convinced Don Ardell. And I understand perfectly the reasons for this
treasonous betrayal of their monarch choice, because I made very similar calculations myself in 2008. I knew after he voted in the Senate for the FISA Amendments in 2008 that Barack Obama would be a disappointing president, although I did thoroughly underestimate the severity of his CPD. He lost my financial support that day and I would no longer campaign for him, but he still got my vote. My primary reasons for this were (a) Supreme Court appointments, and (b) his stated positions, for example those he offered in this interview with Charlie Savage (virtually every single one of which he has now demonstrated he does not actually hold). And yes, lesser-of-two-evilism was also very much in play. After eight years of Bush/Cheney, the prospect of President John McCain — an indisputably corrupt, reckless warmonger who refers to his own wife as a cunt — was unthinkable. (And that’s to say nothing of Sarah Palin. Jeezus. Even if John McCain were not a massive doucheweasel in every conceivable way, inflicting that upon the U.S. public is unforgivable.)
And so I can say with conviction that I get it: your fear of a Republican presidency is well-founded and perfectly justified. How can I honestly do anything other than respect that choice when I have made exactly the same one myself? But the thing is, I am wiser now that I was then, about both Barack Obama and the arc of political history that preceded his presidency. Regular readers of this blog are wiser. And what I am proposing here is a long-term project, one fraught with significant risks. But if I have failed to convince you that lesser-of-two-evilism is the very mechanism that ensures the continued rightward trajectory of the Democratic Party (and by extension the Republican Party too) — that abandoning conservatives in the Democratic Party in droves is the only course of action short of massive civil unrest that has any chance of steering the country even slightly leftward — that is my failure, not yours.
And hey, I’ve still got time to convince you: there’s the 2014 midterms coming up, and 2016 will be here before we know it. (Did you seriously think I would give up?)
But back to SJ. I want to end here with something I wrote to him recently, as I think it expresses my thoughts at least as well as anything else I have written on the subject:
[Obama] is a True Believer in conservative economic policy, in shielding the political and financial elite from facing justice for some of the worst crimes ever perpetrated, in a tyrannical, lawless and unaccountable Executive branch, and in America’s warped, imperialist foreign policy. Those things are not acceptable to me. They are profoundly evil, and anti-human. Anti-American, in every sense.
I believe (a) the next 4 years are going to suck no matter which conservative sits in the White House, as hundreds of thousands more lives are destroyed in the Middle East at his hands, Social Security is unraveled, and a Pacific trade agreement is ratified that makes NAFTA look Marxist by comparison, and (b) things are necessarily going to have to get a lot worse before the American people will do anything serious about it – like take to the streets in large enough numbers to actually scare America’s Owners and their servants in Washington.
(Also: there is no “holding his feet to the fire” once Obama is safely reelected. What are we going to do, offer him a highly paid seat on the board of Goldman Sachs in 2016? He will see his reelection as a mandate to do exactly what he has been doing, as he sees fit.)
Of course your fear is perfectly rational, and so is your choice to vote for Obama. I respect you, I respect your choice, and I respect your reasons for making it. I would argue that “because the other side is marginally worse” is precisely the mechanism that ensures that we are only ever faced with two evil choices, and we need to think much differently and much longer term if we are ever going to face any other choice.
Obama’s first [presidential] election gives me hope. The blue dogs getting routed from Congress in 2010 gives me hope. Occupy gives me hope. And my dream of one day mooning Antonin Scalia gives me something to live for.