Most Americans Have No Dog in This Fight
By P Jerome
For those of us who are antiwar, anti-government spying,
anti-torture and rendition, and in favor of improving the lives of working people,
this election season has been a nightmare. Most presidential elections are
awful – months and years of commercials, punditry, and lying – but this year is
to the accepted "wisdom" of the electoral experts, Americans are not
so divided as we might seem. More than 80 percent of us oppose the war in Iraq, with the
majority wanting immediate withdrawal (not "redeployment"). Larger
majorities want an end to government wiretapping (and vociferously opposed the
wiretapping immunity bill), a scaled-back military budget, and universal health
care that excludes the insurance industry. Further, almost no one outside the
beltway or the NY financial district bought into the "crisis" that
mandated a $850 billion bailout for Wall Street.
are not complicated positions, but we are given the "choice" between
John "Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran"
McCain and Barack "Threats in 100 different countries" Obama. McCain
is beyond the pale for any but the proto-fascists among us, and even they have
reservations about his health and sanity. But to question whether the potential
ascension of "Saint Barack" is a good thing, to put into play questions
of his militarism and support for authoritarianism at home, or to outright
oppose his candidacy based on lies and war-mongering, is to invite the wrath of
the "good liberal" majority.
with his 2004 convention speech when he called for "missile strikes"
against Iran and Pakistan, through his 2008 convention speech
to recognize the "threats of tomorrow," Mr. Obama has based his
candidacy no less on fear and militarism than the dreaded Republicans. After
explaining to a liberal friend that Mr. Obama called for an additional 92,000
troops for the military, for expansion of the genocide in Afghanistan into
Pakistan, and an accelerated war on terror in 100 countries (up from Cheney's
60-country target list), she simply nodded and said, "This is what you
have to say to get elected." Say what?
see. To appeal to the mass of the electorate, you have to take positions they
oppose. This twisted "logic" would also seem to include supporting
the Wall Street bailout and the wiretapping bill, in which Obama invested
significant time and energy. In my naivete, I thought that any compromise
geared toward "winning the election" by this logic meant taking
populist positions that a candidate might otherwise not adopt. Yet here, Mr.
Obama takes anti-populist positions to...win the election?
candidate for office can only be judged on what he/she says he believes and
says he will do, and on his/her track record. We have nothing else. In the case
of Obama, we are supposed to believe he says and acts on motives other than his
core beliefs for unstated other reasons. This is, I respectfully submit,
he voted for the wiretap bill, he said he wanted to have all "necessary
tools" at his disposal for an Obama presidency. When he calls for more
"boots on the ground" in Afghanistan,
or for "missile strikes" in Pakistan,
or "keeping the nuclear option on the table" in Iran, he means
what he is saying. His vision is of an imperial America on the march, waging war in
pursuit of unspecified "threats" with a bigger, better managed
military. That vision includes domestic spying and austerity budgets for the
where does this leave that part of America that opposes wars of
aggression, torture, extraordinary rendition, and the war on terror? Where does
it leave people who want to resist domestic wiretapping or oppose sacrificing
our futures for Wall Street profits? I know the drill: hold your nose and vote
Democratic . . . again.
not this time, and never again. The majority of us do not have a dog in this
billion-dollar electoral fight, and the majority will not vote at all, and why
should they? If McCain wins, more war and more austerity. If Obama wins, even
more war and even more austerity, but with no political opposition. By November
5, the same people will be controlling our lives, regardless of the election
outcome. Real power never gets voted out of office. It must be confronted and
Jerome is a civil rights attorney in Washington, D.C.
Free Press. Online
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