Two weeks before Election Day, most polling indicates that Barack Obama has sufficient support to win an electoral college victory. If the past four years are any indication, that victory will do little to help the millions of people who put Obama in office. His claims of success are either dubious or obviously harmful for people in this country and around the world.
The health care plan is a great unknown, not the Medicare for all that we need, but a bail out of the private insurance companies who have created the health care crisis in the first place. The war in Iraq which Obama brags about ending would have ended no matter who was in office because Bush signed an agreement mandating the departure of most combat troops. Obama has used the Federal Reserve to bail out the banks to the tune of 16 trillion dollars.
The three presidential debates between Obama and Mitt Romney showed more agreement than disagreement. Obama proclaimed that he and Romney probably agreed about Social Security, that is to say, both think it should be on the budgetary chopping block. Romney was forced to say during the third debate on foreign policy that he agreed with the president on crushing the Iranian economy or killing people with drones or thousands of Syrians in an effort to over throw their president.
Given this degree of collusion, why would it be so terrible if Obama lost? His supporters argue that the end is near if Mitt Romney is inaugurated in January 2013. They point out that he would overturn Roe v. Wade and appoint conservatives to the federal judiciary. He has said that he will repeal the Obama health care plan, but the benefits of “Obamacare” are unknown and it isn‘t clear what sort of repeal Romney would enact when he pushed through a nearly identical plan in Massachusetts.
As we have pointed out in Black Agenda Report, it is a lack of progressive activism which has precipitated this crisis. In the absence of strong and coordinated opposition to Democratic Party duplicity, progressives meekly go along with whatever bad deals are presented to them and then recoil in fear every four years when they are told that the barbarians are at the gate. Republicans only help make the case for this complicity with openly racist and misogynistic policies.
Now that the White House has publicly announced a continuation of its kill list program, complete with an Orwellian term “disposition matrix” used to justify murder, it is time to question all of the assumptions which lead us to the polls and guide us how to vote. It is obvious that Obama and the Democrats are not the lesser of two evils. They are just the more effective evil, having made their evil more palatable to their supporters. The ever-rightward moving shift of the Democrats has brought us to this juncture, where we are told to fear Republicans who are more radical on social issues precisely because the Democrats have copied them in every other aspect. If Democrats also believe in wars of aggression and bail outs and subservience to finance capital, Republicans are only left with abortion and gay marriage as issues to differentiate themselves.
Progressives are protecting less and less with each election cycle. The winner-take-all electoral system makes other parties irrelevant and relegates them to spoiler status, but the argument against supporting them is weaker as the system deteriorates. The argument that voting changes nothing for the average person is a valid one, and the sight of Romney and Obama declaring agreement on the issues of empire and finance makes that point quite clearly.
We are left with a plea to honor the memories of those who sacrificed, sometimes with their lives, during the freedom struggles of the 1960s. But those people fought and died for full citizenship rights, of which voting was just a part. No one today should worry about dishonoring or dismissing their sacrifice by refusing to take part in the farce that national elections have now become.
It is acceptable not to vote at all, or to vote for someone other than Barack Obama. Some who claim to be leftists argue against particular Obama policies only to conclude at election time that he should be elected anyway. These people undercut their own arguments and make a mockery of themselves. Their pleas to stop surveillance or drone assassinations or the destruction of nations such as Libya and Syria become hollow because they refuse to acknowledge the corruption that is an integral part of the system.
Arguing for the re-election of a person who so clearly is a danger to the nation and to the world is at best illogical, and at worst is immoral. The time for defending tiny victories should end. Barack Obama and the Democrats should know that their critics mean business, and will cease supporting them. Racist statements from right wing pundits and bizarre statements about rape and pregnancy shouldn’t fool anyone into supporting policies that are wrong for this country and for the world.
On November 6th it is perfectly acceptable, morally right, and politically principled to boycott the election or to vote for a party other than the Democrats. Hand wringing about a Romney victory is mostly phony, and geared to keep progressives silent in the face of each new assault. Obama may win after all, but it shouldn’t be because people who claim to be on the left are complicit and a party to his wrongdoing.