Sunday, April 8, 2012

Exile From Hopeville: Liberal Apologists in the Age of Obama

The 2012 presidential election has officially begun. With former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney all but assured of winning the GOP nomination and President Barack Obama now singling Romney out by name, Campaign ’12 is underway. And with it comes the left’s routine flight from reality, back into the comforting, partisan-colored glasses of “hope,” and “change.”

All the liberals who rightly—albeit, belatedly—became disappointed with Obama are now jumping, without hesitation, onto his re-election bandwagon. “Change takes a long time,” these Democratic apologists insist. “The president is doing the best he can.” 

Truthdig’s usually reliable Robert Scheer is the latest spurned acolyte to re-enlist with the president. “The incumbent president has his failings,” Scheer writes, in a column titled, “Obama by Default,” “but compared to Mitt Romney he is a paradigm of considered and compassionate thought.”

While the accuracy of this statement is not in doubt, Scheer makes the oft-repeated mistake of confusing personality characteristics with a candidate’s policy goals. Of course Obama is smarter than Romney. What does that have to do with his track record, thus far, as president?

Let’s review, shall we?

Obama has increased the war in Afghanistan, the drone strikes in Pakistan, and, despite claims to the contrary, has maintained the U.S. occupation of Iraq. While Obama has dropped the Bush administration’s phrase, “War on Terror,” he has continued to pursue the very same foreign policy approach the term describes.

Like Bush, President Obama has unilaterally claimed hitherto unprecedented executive authority—including the right to assassinate the U.S.-born Anwar al-Awlaki, and his two sons.

He signed the horrific National Defense Authorization Act, which gives him the blanket authority to imprison any American, anywhere in the world for anything deemed “associating with terrorists.” Perhaps worst of all, Obama and the Democratic leadership have steadfastly refused to bring criminal charges to any of the members of the Bush administration for illegal and unconstitutional abuses of power.

Here at home, Obama has coddled “too big to fail” banks like Citigroup, J.P. Morgan-Chase and Bane, err, I mean, Bank of America. Indeed, Obama’s cabinet upon entering the White House was deliberately composed of the very Clinton-era economic elites who paved the way for the financial crisis. And Obama’s signature achievement, the Affordable Care Act—a compromise from the Public Option, which was itself a compromise from single-payer, universal health care—is likely to be deemed unconstitutional by the most radically conservative Supreme Court in decades.

Speaking of radical conservatives, yes, I acknowledge Obama has been consistently sidelined by an obstructionist Republican Congress whose only goal is to see him lose in November. But liberals forget that the only reason for the Republican takeover in 2010 was because the Democrats were unwilling to enact real progressive policies. Upon Obama’s initial election, the Dems controlled the White House and both branches of Congress. And they still could not enact any of the changes they had promised.

Contrary to the claims of pundits like Scheer, Barack Obama is not the only choice progressives have in the presidential election. Jill Stein, Kent Mesplay and comedian Roseanne Barr are all vying for the Green Party’s nomination. Former Utah mayor, Rocky Anderson is also running in the newly formed Justice Party

Yet, due to a combination of lack of media coverage, and liberals’ calculating fear they must accept the “lesser of two evils,” none of these candidates are anywhere on voters’ maps. Independent candidates “cannot win,” liberals dismissively claim.

But this is only true because progressive voters who agree with their platforms refuse to actually vote for them out of fear that vote would be “wasted.” This phenomenon is what some have termed the “progressive dilemma.” I prefer to call it a self-fulfilling prophecy. If progressives were to throw their collective weight behind a third-party candidate like Jill Stein and vote for her en mass, she would not “spoil” the election—she would win it. When liberals tell you cynically that a Green or Independent candidate “can’t win,” what they seem oblivious to is their own complicity in preventing the candidate from winning (or at the very least getting more than five percent of the vote).

“I’d rather vote for what I want and not get it,” Socialist presidential candidate, Eugene Debs famously proclaimed, “then vote for what I don’t want, and get it.”

“If you go for the ‘least-worst’ as a voter you’ve lost your bargaining power,” Ralph Nader told blogger, Davis Fleetwood (aka “The Hermit”) during his 2008 presidential run, “because the least-worst candidate…knows that he can take those votes for granted.” He goes on:

You can’t have a least-worst attitude as a tactical voter and not push or pull your candidate…into progressive areas, because then you have lost your moral compass. Every four years there’s going to be a “least-worst.” What is your breaking point?

Sadly, Obama supporters do not seem to have any breaking point. As long as the Republicans are just that much worse, the Democratic Party knows it can take them for granted. And so liberals’ mass delusion of “hope,” “change,” and empty “Yes, we can!” sloganeering marches on into the fantasy-world of “Hopeville.”

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