Thursday, November 1, 2012

For Obama or not for Obama?

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Partisans supporting either President Obama and Governor Romney should not waste their time reading this post. This is an analysis of the choices American voters, who are not happy with either major Party candidate have. Who should libertarians vote for? What about socialists? Radical environmentalists? Even many progressives have a hard time casting a vote for someone who has not -- not matter how many lies Glenn Beck has told to the contrary -- demonstrated a progressive approach toward corporations or the neo-liberal order.

Let's consider the reasoning of socialist Lawrence O'Donnell, mathematician and logician B. Sidney Smith, and radicals Professor Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsburg of the Pentagon Papers fame. First, via MSNBC, O'Donnell explains the distinction between the choice a voter in a red or blue state has compared to what is at stake for voters in swing states.

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Next, B. Sidney Smith makes the case for voting for Green Party candidate Jill Stein in a swing state. In a piece on his web site entitled "Voting Green in a Swing State," Smith begins:
If you think climate change isn’t a serious electoral issue, this probably wasn’t written for you. approximates your own take on the issues, please read no further.  If you think American presidents should conduct wars on their own authority and that it’s okay if they secretly assassinate whomever they (secretly) decide are bad people who might hurt us then you needn’t concern yourself with what follows. If you think the Bill of Rights of the Constitution doesn’t necessarily apply when terrorism is involved, or that letting gays have civil rights should be decided on a state-by-state basis like slavery before the civil war, or that the health of the environment isn’t more important than economic growth, or that whistle-blowers who expose governmental and corporate crimes should go to prison but that privileged lawbreakers shouldn’t, or that whether a candidate is electable should depend on how much she pleases wealthy donors—if any of these approximates your own take on the issues, please read no further
Photo of B. Sidney Smith
B. Sidney Smith

Smith goes on at length to make his case in support of voting Green in swing states, and his argument is summarized in his own words. Toward the end of this argument, Smith asserts:
As I have documented elsewhere, the partisan duopoly disenfranchises the entire electorate, left, right, and center. The American people as a whole, irrespective of ideology, have been locked out of running their own country as the writers of the Constitution intended they would. 
The mechanism at its root is dead simple and works in exactly the same way on both “liberal” and “conservative” voters. You are offered two choices, each of whom has been carefully vetted by the owners and is dedicated to serving elite interests. You are then persuaded that one of them is bad and must be defeated.
This is not to say that there aren’t real issues between the two; on the contrary, without the presence and validity of such issues the trick wouldn’t work. People aren’t stupid. But from the point of view of those whose interests the elected candidate will first serve, those issues are of minor importance. 
Once voters are persuaded of the validity of a vote-against, it only remains to ensure that the two political “sides” remain in approximate parity, a task ably handled by the corporate media in collusion with the parties themselves. 
The only escape from this trap is to understand that the call of civic duty is a call to active participation (activism) in the political process. To those who answer such a call, voting-against doesn’t even make sense, because it means giving up on one’s own commitment to self-government. It is only when voting for the actual changes one wishes to see that it is rational to hope those changes will someday happen.
As previously pointed out, Gov. Romney's selection of Glenn Beck's soulmate, Paul Ryan, has made this election less a referendum on Obama's performance as president and, instead, a choice between going forward (barely) and going backward (indeterminably far). 

Daniel Ellsburg

Two other more famous radicals have weighed in on voting in a swing state. First, Daniel Ellsburg has written in a piece entitled "Progressives: In Swing States Vote for Obama," that:
To think of that as urging people in swing states to “vote their conscience” is, I believe, dangerously misleading advice. I would say to a progressive that if your conscience tells you on Election Day to vote for someone other than Obama in a battleground state, you need a second opinion. Your conscience is giving you bad counsel. 
I often quote a line by Thoreau that had great impact for me: “Cast your whole vote: not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence.”  He was referring, in that essay, to civil disobedience, or as he titled it himself, “Resistance to Civil Authority.” 
It still means that to me. But this is a year when for people who think like me -- and who, unlike me, live in battleground states -- casting a strip of paper is also important. Using your whole influence this month to get others to do that, to best effect, is even more important. 
That means for progressives in the next couple of weeks -- in addition to the rallies, demonstrations, petitions, lobbying (largely against policies or prospective policies of President Obama, including austerity budgeting next month), movement-building and civil disobedience that are needed all year round and every year -- using one’s voice and one’s e-mails and op-eds and social media to encourage citizens in swing states to vote against a Romney victory by voting for the only real alternative, Barack Obama.
Unfortunately, Obama is the only real alternative. As convincing as Sidney Green is, the risk and danger of having Gov. Romney selecting the next justices is far to great. To make this case in stronger terms, Noam Chomsky recently did an interview and discussed this concern about voting in a swing state. Via The Real was this advice from Professor Chomsky. Although he's addressing the 2008 elections here, the issues are the same; and the analysis of that elections holds up in 2012. 

This year, Prof. Chomsky said that he is going to vote for Green candidate Jill Stein, but added that if he lived in a swing state he would vote “against Romney-Ryan, which means voting for Obama.” Progressives and radicals are in the same quandary as regressives and libertarians. Should they vote for a candidate who can get elected or take a stand for the future and support a candidate who shares their values? Glenn Beck is clearly making the case for Mendacious Mitt. Who are you prepared to make the case for? If you vote for Stein, Anderson or Johnson, are you prepared to live with the consequences?
These previous posts show just how extreme, dishonest and of poor judgment Gov. Romney has demonstrated he is.
If you doubt that Gov. Romney is trying to lie his way into the White House, check out the 49 lies listed on just one of 39 web pages listing his many false claims. See "Chronicling Mitt's Mendacity, Volume XXXIX."

This election offers an important choice for voters.

Before voters are taken in by Mitt Romney's mendacious machine, 
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