2008: What's a poor progressive to do?

For me, Barack Obama's singular achievement has been to make Hillary Clinton look good. Say what you will about Hillary, as a lifetime wonkette, at least she has some politics.

That said, I want to pass along these off-the-cuff notes to portside from D.C. Statehood Green Party activist David Schwartzman (he's responding to a pro-Obama brief that I won't burden you with), that make a couple of points in favor of voting for Obama, at least in states that might otherwise go to John McCain:
Obama "progressive" ?!!! To argue that Obama is the best choice out of the three offered by the two war parties is well supported, but lets be clear why. It is not because he is "progressive," unless in some Bizzaro World being progressive includes support for expanding the military-industrial complex, the death penalty, the US/Israeli axis of human rights violation, voting for funding the war and the Patriot Act, opposing a universal single payer health plan, pretending clean energy includes nuclear power and corn ethanol, i.e., having a platform almost identical to Hillary Clinton's. Rather, Obama is preferable because:

1) He is a Democrat, so with a Democratic President and Congress there will be no more excuses that it is all the Republicans' fault that the Iraq War/Occupation continues, urgent domestic needs are unmet, etc.
Actually, I disagree with this part of Schwartsman's argument: because, when he was their president, Bill Clinton was able to neuter Democratic progressives in Congress; there is no reason to believe this would not happen in a triangulating Obama administration actively pursuing a consensus with the GOP.
2) He is more likely to beat McCain, according to most polls.
Not to be argumentative, but Obama has enjoyed a free ride up to now: there is no telling what his standing in the polls will be after the Right's slime machine is through with him.
3) Expectations are higher that he will end the Iraq war/occupation, hence a case can be made that the millions inspired by Obama's campaign will hold him accountable after his election with the help of the real progressives and thereby avoid more imperialist interventions.
Okay. By now you're wondering why I'm sending you this piece at all. It's because I think Schwartzman does make the best case there is for supporting Obama. However:

The peace movement has already given up whatever leverage it might have had over the very junior senator from Illinois by prematurely -- is that the word? -- embracing BHO in order to stop Clinton. What possible reason does he have to meet their expectations now? Far more important to address the needs and wishes of the conservative congressional majority and the DNC who will be in a much better position than the peace movement to make his life miserable for the next four years.
4) And last but by far not least, the election of an African-American as US President will be an historic blow to racism despite his colorblind campaign.
True enough, except the exact same argument can be made about Clinton and gender bias. But, and here's the real point,
preferring Obama should also mean voting strategically, so that the only really progressive party on the US scene, the Green Party, can grow and challenge the corporate duopoly. Hopefully many voters especially in safe states will make that choice by voting for the Cynthia McKinney for President, assuming she will be chosen by the Green Party Convention, and putting more Greens into local office.
Hear, hear.

With this caveat: Schwartzman is thinking nationally and as a Green Party activist; but it's true that, although its commitment to economic justice is essentially untested, for now the Green Party is the only potentially viable national party of the Left. In California, however, it may also be worth casting a vote to keep the Peace and Freedom Party alive. And in some states the Socialist Party USA is on the ballot. So if the Dream Team is not your dream ticket and you decide to look elsewhere for someone to support, consider all the options.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails