21 September 2008

Vote for Obama is no endorsement of Dems

I am swearing off conversations about presidential and party politics. In fairness, I admit I seldom have these discussions with self-identified Republicans because, first of all, I don’t spend much time with Republicans and, secondly, I wouldn’t have any interest in engaging with them. So what I am really doing is refusing to have these conversations with self-professed liberals and Democrats, particularly the party faithful.

In this extremely polarized political climate, in which there is tremendous pressure to reduce every political discussion to some simplistic black or white choice (e.g., liberal/conservative, Democrat/Republican) anyone outside that paradigm is reduced to insignificance. Many Democrats, even the reluctant variety, are as close-minded, intolerant, unimaginative and as wedded to the status quo as the most rabid flag-waver in the GOP.

Many Democrats and liberals are reasonable people until the presidential campaign kicks into the high gear. For example, they will agree that corporate money so dominates national elections that it is virtually impossible for a candidate of progressive change to run a viable campaign and that campaign finance reform involving public funding is vital to future of democracy. But when Barack Obama abandoned his pledge to run a publicly financed campaign because he thought he could raise more money than McCain under the current structure, the Democrats and liberals wrung their hands and sighed, “Well I guess that’s what we have to do to win.”

When the candidate of change and fresh ideas picked Joe Biden, the consummate Washington insider and six-term veteran in the Senate, as his vice-presidential candidate, Democrats and the liberals claimed that Obama had to move to the ideological mainstream to be a viable candidate in the general election. Oddly enough, that is precisely the explanation we heard from Democrats when their last two presidential candidates, Gore and Kerry, raced to the right and stole defeat from the jaws of victory in 2000 and 2004. The Democrats would rather follow conventional wisdom, even when it has been convincingly discredited, than entertain a new idea or strategy. For a political party, that is pretty close to being brain dead.

Democrats and liberals would have us believe that the nation’s economic collapse, global bullying and warmongering, staggering social inequality, the shredding of the constitution in the creation of an imperial presidency, the institutionalization of torture as a foreign policy, just to name a few crises, are the responsibility of the GOP in league with corporate America. Really?

The Democrats are the major recipient of corporate support from the financial sector, which just dumped an additional $700 billion worth of assets, many of which cannot be proved to exist, onto the laps of the American taxpayers. The oil and gas industry refers Republicans, banking and finance leans toward the Dems, but both parties are on the corporate dole. Both presidential candidates accept that a bailout of Wall Street, however distasteful, must be done. The surest sign of ideological collusion is when members of both parties claim there is no realistic alternative. I recall a similar level of unanimity of conviction in the early days of the Iraq War, which has proven to be one of the epic foreign policy blunders in U.S. history.

Come election season, anyone who does not support the troglodyte agenda of the GOP is expected to blindly endorse the Democratic presidential nominee with the faith, as in the case in the latest election, that the party that wrote the check for the war, caved into to the powerful, abandoned the needs of the weak, ignored the Constitution, and failed to oppose in any meaningful way one of the most corrupt presidential administration in U.S. history will suddenly transform itself into the peoples’ champions when it captures the White House. Criticism of Obama or the party, or questioning its tactic, is often dismissed or unrealistic or, worse yet, tacit support for McCain.

This is not a question about whether or not to vote for Obama. I can vote for Obama in November without any further support for the Democratic Party. The broken state of the nation could not have been achieved without the active participation of both major parties, civil society, the major news media (for which a special spot in Hell is reserved), the faith communities, and the lazy American public, many of whom act as though citizenship entails no obligations. The Democrats’ stubborn denial of its responsibilities precludes any possibility of it contributing to the solutions.