I sat down today to reply to Cognitive Dissenter about why I can’t support Obama, and the reply quickly grew so long that I decided it should be a separate post. Here it is.
There’s no doubt Obama is saner and more credible than any GOP candidate. The GOP gets more and more insane almost every day, and I don’t expect to vote for another Republican ever. However, I promised myself in 2008 that I would never again vote for any candidate who didn’t support full equality for LGBTs — including marriage equality. For that reason alone, I can’t vote for Obama again. Even if Obama were to come around and support equality, though, I still couldn’t bring myself to support him 2012.
Beginning with his support for the FISA Amendments Act in 2008, I’ve viewed Obama with grave distrust, and it was only with difficulty that I persuaded myself to vote for him the first time around. I hoped he wouldn’t be as disastrous a president as I feared, and considering the dismal alternatives, I thought it was worth giving him a chance. I think I was wrong.
Of course I know that if he loses in 2012 it will almost certainly mean a Republican victory, and that will be disastrous. I know that Eric Alterman types will blame progressives who refused to support Obama. But the Democratic Party is in many ways as toxic as the Republican Party, and I think it’s important to take a stand, and demand that the Democrats support liberal and progressive principles before we give them our support. I mean to stand firm. I don’t mean to complain, but knuckle under in the end and support them no matter what they do. I mean to withhold support at all costs until they can take liberal and progressive positions.
My objections to Obama are many. Off the top, and in no particular order:
1) He broke his promise to close Guantanamo. He continues to hold prisoners who have not been charged with, much less convicted of, any crime. This is unjust even if the prisoners are dangerous. Make your case under the constitution and laws of the United States, or let them go.
2) He promotes building new nuclear power plants in Chile, a country with frequent earthquakes. A more prudent man might have learned something from Japan, but it seems there are those who think American profits are worth more than Chilean and Argentine lives.
3) In the face of public demands for an apology, he has declined to apologize on behalf of the United States for our country’s having overthrown democratically-elected governments in Latin America and having installed murderous dictatorships in their place.
4) He continues to pursue the pointless war in Afghanistan despite having no clear and achievable goals and no credible exit strategy.
5) He continues to pursue other military adventures around the world without congressional authorization and without any clear or credible goals.
6) His promised “fierce advocacy” of LGBT equality has been non-existent. Even his “accomplishments” often represent betrayals. He boasts of ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — despite the fact that it has not yet ended. However, the President didn’t want legislative action on DADT in 2010 at all. When it became clear that Congress would move without him, the White House sprang into action to make sure the legislation would have no teeth. Under pressure from the White House, Congress approved a certification process and a congressional review period that would unnecessarily drag out implementation. They dropped the idea of a non-discrimination provision in the law, so that even if and when Obama implements the law, any succeeding president will still remain free to expel gay service members. DADT repeal was not an accomplishment, but a betrayal. That’s just one example. Time after time, Obama has undermined the struggle for LGBT equality even while claiming to support equality.
7) He has refused to prosecute American war criminals.
8) He has refused, for the most part, to prosecute Wall Street criminals.
9) He has, rather, welcomed Wall Street into the White House, populating his administration with some of the very people responsible for our ongoing economic crisis.
10) He has consistently supported the National Day of Prayer, and vowed to support it after a judicial verdict that it was unconstitutional. (Religious conservatives are always sending out viral emails claiming that Obama has ended the National Day of Prayer. Religious conservatives are notorious liars.)
11) His response to the BP oil spill disaster was shamefully inadequate. The Democratic Party should hang its collective head in shame for harshly criticizing GW Bush’s handling of Hurricane Katrina, and then supporting Obama while he sat in Washington with his thumb up his ass saying he was sure BP would do all the right things.
12) Speaking of oil, he has continued even after the BP disaster to support expanded offshore drilling in the U.S. and elsewhere.
13) He betrayed us on healthcare reform. We knew he wouldn’t seriously pursue a single payer plan, which would be ideal, but he did promise repeatedly to deliver on a “robust public option.” He didn’t even try. The public option was a bargaining chip that he quickly gave away, delivering a plan that fulfilled the wish lists of the insurance and pharmaceutical lobbies. Instead of true reform, we have more corporate welfare for the companies that are already making huge profits sucking us dry. Instead of a public option, we have a private mandate under which Americans will be forced to buy a flawed product from corrupt and bloated companies. Considering that he expended so much political capital on reform, and incurred the wrath of every stupid and/or dishonest conservative in the country, one would think he might have worked for reform that would have actually been worth accomplishing.
14) He has failed to support immigration reform, and has, in fact, stepped up the deportations.
15) While failing to lead in reform, he has boldly asserted the prerogatives of the imperial presidency, and has increased the executive branch’s intrusions on, and violations of, the constitutional rights and liberties of the American people. It seems to be the only issue on which he’s capable of real leadership.
16) Speaking of the constitution, I have yet to see any evidence that he considers it relevant to the way he conducts his day-to-day business.
17) He appears to have no convictions that aren’t based on public opinion polls.
18) Despite his considerable experience at being a liar, he is not just a profuse liar, but a bad one. He’s not even good at it. He’s such a shameless liar that he doesn’t appear to care that his lies aren’t even credible. He expects us to conspire with him in his lies — a wink and a nudge, and let’s all pretend we don’t notice. Oh, that Barack. You can’t believe a word he says, but he’s such a charmer, isn’t he? You just gotta love him. It’s wrong, it’s insulting, and it’s indicative of just how devoid of principles and integrity the man really is.
That’s just off the top of my head. I’m sure the list would be longer if I took the time to carefully enumerate the problems with Obama, but honestly, who has that much time?
So what happens if we don’t vote for Obama? If we vote for Nader or the Green Party candidate, or if we stay home, then what? Then maybe a Republican wins, and that will be a disaster. But what liberals are all too willing to overlook is the fact that if Obama wins, it will also be a disaster. Four more years of Obama as usual is intolerable. The Democrats must be made to realize that we will not support, or even tolerate, such rank betrayal of liberal and progressive principles, that if they can’t give us a platform and candidates worth supporting, we simply will not support them. Every time we vote for the Democrats simply because the Republicans are even worse, we give the Democrats license to get worse and worse themselves — because let’s face it, they can never quite keep up with the Republicans in that respect. So the whole country drifts farther and farther into insanity, and liberals don’t say anything because they’re so afraid of the Republicans.
I’m not afraid of the Republicans. I’m afraid of having no decent options. I’m afraid of the fact that the Democrats of today are as bad as the Republicans of Reagan’s day, and far worse than the Republicans of Eisenhower’s day, and getting worse all the time. Our most important task, the task without which this country cannot survive in any form worth caring about, is not defeating the Republicans. The most important thing for the future of the United States is making sure that we still have a viable and tolerable option to the Republicans. Without that, all is lost.