Sunday, September 30, 2012

Why You Shouldn't Vote for Obama

Unlike many people, I do not strategically vote. I vote my conscience. I vote for whom I would really like to see represent who I really am and what I really stand for. What is nice is there is a candidate like that. And if you searched you would likely find that person too—at least someone who matched pretty closely. 

Unfortunately, there are many who falsely believe if they vote for the candidate of their liking their candidate will lose. In addition, they believe that by voting for their candidate they make someone they really don't like, win. So many people vote to block what they call a "greater evil" out of two evil choices and not for whom they really want. This is a defeatist form of voting. It ensures you get someone you don't want every time. 

"I would rather vote for someone I want, and not get it, than to vote for someone I don't want, and get it." ~Eugene Victor Debs

If we continue to vote for the lesser evil, then we are doomed to get just that-- evil. Imagine if everyone voted for whom they really wanted to see in office. If this happened it is quite possible we could elect someone totally different outside the mainstream two party capitalist system. Yet Americans are stuck in a voting pattern that every four years sticks us with the same ole same ole and progress is one step forward and five steps back constantly. It's no way to get the actual systematic, structural, and fundamental changes we need to occur. Unfortunately, I don't think I can convince the majority of folks at this time to give up strategic voting.

There are voting reforms we would need to put into law that could reduce the chance that voting for whom we want will inadvertently elect someone we don't want. These are things like instant run off voting, ranked choice voting, and proportional representation. I hope that someday we will have these electoral reforms we need and that people will feel safer to cast a vote for whom they want. 

So instead of trying to convince people to give up strategic voting, I plan to make a different case. This case is one based on moral and ethical grounds. I believe in human rights and social justice and use this standard to measure presidents by. I feel the president should be chosen based on ethical decision making. So any inhumane act is unjustifiable in my eyes. If someone has committed an inhumane action this should be considered in the decision to vote for someone. In this instance, my argument will also address whether President Obama has done more bad than good. In that vein, I want to make a case for not voting for Obama. I don't even need to make a case for not voting for Romney, as he's clearly the greater of the two evils. Although, not that much more evil than most people think, as I intend to prove through this article. 

I would be incredibly difficult for me to list everything Obama has done that was bad. Why? Because there is A LOT. Most people vastly underestimate what negative things Obama has done. Mostly because people are simply not aware of them and because people are blinded to them by being scared of what they see as the only alternative-- Republicans. Furthermore, some people blindly follow Obama-- mostly staunch Democrats who think in black and white terms. To them if Obama isn't a Republican, he must be awesome, which is false thinking. Democrats have a long history of doing bad things. LBJ and Vietnam. Clinton with NAFTA and welfare reform. Any president who’s ever gotten us into an unjust war. That's about everyone! There is plenty of wrong things Democrats have done-- that is an indisputable fact.

The flip side is that the Democrats have done a good job at highlighting only “positive” things the president has done, and hiding all of the negative things from people. This is part of a huge propaganda machine perpetuated through the mainstream media that keeps pumping out the lies. That, and they see everything the president has done as good, whereas, much of it isn’t. This skewed version of reality they portray is what allows them to keep doing bad things without any consequence or check and balance.  

In this article I will use a radical perspective and also a very high ethical standard to judge actions taken and legislation passed by the Obama Whitehouse. So if one isn't viewing these events by this particular lens, they may not see things the same way. Perception is everything. However, I hope to make a solid case that Obama, overall, does not deserve our vote. I do this in the hope to raise awareness. 

I do not fool myself into believing it can totally change someone's vote. However, it can inform and raise consciousness on what Obama has really done. I think that in and of itself is worth the effort in trying to examine his record and its implications. 

First let me say that Obama is the ultimate compromiser and pragmatist. He really meant it when he said Republicans were his friends. That this is not a “red America, and a blue America, but the United States of America.” That fundamental belief has motivated him to try and work with Republicans and often compromise, not just promises he made before becoming president, but compromise principles he said he held to the point of total capitulation. I understand how politics works, and some compromise and reconciliation is necessary to get anything done. But Obama often gives things away and folds way too early in the game. He's way too appeasing and sacrifices too much. 

On the Bush tax cuts, he said he would get rid of them, but instead he let them stay. On healthcare, he didn't even allow an exploration of the single-payer or the public option, he went along with what was a Heritage Foundation, conservative think tank, idea to impose privatized insurance health care on everyone or they would face a penalty. The “affordable care act” was a huge giveaway to the drug and insurance corporations, which means overall the average American lost.

During the 2008 campaign, Obama promised to raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour. This was never brought up again. In addition, he allowed for a bad deal to be made so congress would approve raising the debt ceiling. This deal includes automatic cuts to social security if other cuts are not made in time. We have no idea yet what these cuts will entail but it’s not looking good. Obama has said he is prepared to cut medicare and social security and has proven he is not interested in fighting to save them. Furthermore, did not close Guantanamo Bay, as promised either.

Obama promised during his campaign he would be against special interests and politics as usual. He promised he was a Washington outsider who would shake things up and reject lobbyist’s influence. But he has taken corporate money during his campaigns and big corporations have played a major part of his administration. It is obvious they have influenced his policies. In fact, he put plutocrats into high level cabinet positions with corporate insiders like Timothy Geithner ( former head of the Federal Reserve), Larry Summers, and Ben Bernanke (both from Goldman Sachs). These are the type of folks who make up Obama’s inner circle of advisors and insulate him with their influence and mode of thinking. Despite Obama’s eloquent “I will stand up for the little guy against the rich guy” verbiage, he has proven himself a “fierce defender” of capitalism and corporations, not the common people. People need to stop listening to his words so much, and start looking at his actions a lot more. These are just some examples of how Obama has compromised his values and promises to the American people. Believe me, the list is long and disappointing. He has gone back on so many things he said he believed in and said he would do, and has not been the “champion” of the “middle class” he promised to be.

On top of compromises he made, which sold the American people down the river to benefit the rich and privileged, he made decisions that were wrong. These include: massive deportations of undocumented immigrants, and a record number of whistleblower prosecutions but not one for those that tortured during the Bush Administration or a single prosecution of a Wall Street executive or financial firm that screwed us over during the 2008 economic crisis. Not to mention the continued war in Afghanistan with a huge increase in troops, medical marijuana raids in states that have passed medical marijuana legalization, such as in my home state of California, and a drone program which kills people from a kill list, including American citizens, without due process. That is a direct violation and assault on the constitution. On top of that, he expanded the Patriot Act and all other Bush era defense policies, launched FBI raids on antiwar activists, and appointed Monstanto executives to the FDA. The stimulus package he lead the passage of gave away tax payer money to banks and corporations instead of to help people get jobs or save their houses from being foreclosed upon.

Under Obama the United States has dropped bombs in six countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, and Pakistan, which is two more than Bush ever touched. In fact, he was simultaneously drone-bombing five countries – Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Pakistan all at the same time. Obama feels perfectly empowered to take military action without informing Congress or getting congressional approval for military force because if no Americans are being killed than in his view it’s not really a war. This happened with Libya in particular, which he did without any American lives being threatened, without enacting the War Powers Act, or consulting congress. 

Moreover, Obama has encouraged Congress to increase military spending. In fact, the Obama administration has spent more than the previous Bush Administration on the military. Not to mention he is totally in unconditional support of Israel and has done nothing to help the Palestinian people. He has actually expanded of deep water oil drilling, even after the BP oil spill happened off the coast of Mississippi. In fact, Obama believes in “clean coal” and “clean nuclear” power and has pushed these myths, even though in reality they are bad for the environment and for human beings.

Furthermore, Obama has expanded Bush era assaults on our civil liberties, the constitution, and bill of rights. Obama extended the Patriot Act without any changes, in some ways strengthening it and going further than Bush even did. Another large assault on civil liberties has been the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) bill, which was passed. It created legalized indefinite detention as some sort of “preventative” act. Bush pulled some of this in his administration but it was done illegally. Obama made it legal to do it. It was passed by the majority of Republicans and Democrats and gives the power to the president to detain anyone, including Americans, indefinitely without charges. Obama has said he would not use it, but if it exists he has the right to at any time and we would not know it. Also the next person who gets into office could chose to use it. 

One of the largest assaults has been Obama’s unmanned drone program. Which he may justify by saying it saves innocent life. But the people he has ordered the killing of have never been proven guilty. Besides the fact that the death penalty is wrong in and of itself, there are no trials and no convictions before people are killed. In fact, there has even been extrajudicial assassination of American citizens this way. This includes one American-born sixteen year old boy. The death penalty excludes anyone under eighteen in America. Not to mention that drone strikes kill a lot of civilians. Obama may take the stance that this is utilitarian; kill a few to save even more. Many support this idea but I think people have a disconnect. They see civilian deaths as casualties of war, worth the sacrifice in order to supposedly keep us safe and protect people. Like if a train is coming and it will either kill one person or five people...which one would you chose? They feel they are saving more lives by sacrificing some. However, I do not believe the ends justify the means. The issue is that is a false dichotomy. We do not have to kill to make people safe. We can pursue a totally different approach to foreign policy, one that involves diplomacy and cooperation. People don't even think there are alternatives when there are. 

I think Obama’s drone program is super unethical, unacceptable, and unjustifiable. Drones have killed hundreds of innocent civilians and terrorize thousands who are driven into stress and anxiety with fear they will be killed as loud drones buzz above them 24 hours a day. This is not good foreign policy. It creates more blowback, which means it will not make us safer because more people plan to do harm when their loved ones are killed. Plus it is immoral, not to mention illegal. This secret program has to end. Obama will only expand it.

I am sick of Obama apologists and excuses as to why Obama has not done this or that. There is no excuse for killing innocent children, for instance. The world in which Obama's hand is supposedly forced is completely an illusion. Unethical actions will continue to happen as long as people allow them to. There is no excuse for this and it cannot be justified under any circumstances.

Moreover, there is so much Obama hasn’t done he could have done. So many say well, he inherited the awful mess of the Bush Administration, he couldn’t do all we expected him to do in just four years, particularly with Republicans blocking progress in congress. While there is some validity to that argument, the president is the most powerful person in the world. He did so much bad, as I have demonstrated, and he had just as much power to have a positive influence. Sure, he did some good things. Most of them are half-measures, small reforms, and nowhere near what we need and deserve. But theoretically they have brought us some semblance of progress. For that I am grateful. I suppose it could have been worse, but my point overall is it could have been much better. The good Obama has done does not outweigh the bad. Even the good was piddly. People say give him another four years and see what he does. And I fully expect he will be re-elected and I warn you all now, do not hold your breath that he will suddenly fulfill all your dreams from the 2008 campaign or even his own promises from 4 years ago. He will continue to do the bad he has done. And for that, he does not deserve my vote. 

People do not realize there are alternatives to the two party crapitalist duopoly, but there are plenty if one is willing to look. I plan to vote for Stewart Alexander, Socialist Party USA candidate, whom I hope secures write-in status in the state of California. People do not realize there is an alternative to the capitalist system itself. Capitalism delivers on making profit for the few and does not serve human needs. What we surely deserve is a true socialist to bring about the fundamental and systematic changes we need-- a society that serves us and not the rich. There are much better ways to go about economic, social, foreign policy and much better candidates who can do a much better job than Obama has done. As long as people continue to vote for evil, that is what they will get. We are worth better and our choices matter. So choose wisely and understand the implications of your vote.