By P Jerome
10/15/08 “Information Clearinghouse”
For those of us who are antiwar, anti-government spying, anti-torture/rendition, and in favor of improving the lives of working people, this election season has been a nightmare. Most presidential elections are awful — months/years of commercials, punditry, and lying — but this year is particularly terrible.
Contrary 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.
These 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 the play of 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.
Beginning with his 2004 convention speech when he called for “missile strikes” against Iran and Pakistan, through his 2008 convention speech imploring America 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?
I 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?
A 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, nonsense.
When 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 foreseeable future.
So 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.
No, 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 overturned.
P Jerome is a civil rights attorney in Washington, DC