This is a response to the latest in a series of impassioned exercises in special pleading for reelecting President Obama from Tom Cordle. Mr. Cordle has argued that while Obama is a disappointment, Romey is a potential monster from hell, a diabolical genie who will be unleashed upon us all if we rub his magic lantern by electing him. Implicit in Cordle's beating the drum for Obama is his assumption that there are substantial differences between the candidates, otherwise, there'd be no difference who gets elected and Cordle wouldn't be breaking a sweat alternately demonizing Romney and exhorting readers to excuse Obama's failures and reelect him. In seemingly each post, Cordle makes sure to ridicule, if not damn as irresponsible, anyone who votes for a third party candidate. Such a person is an impractical sort who searches for a saint, not a man, to elect. Such impractical dreamers in search of perfection, we are constantly reminded, lost Al Gore the presidency, a claim that has already been disproven. Gore's would-be presidential actions are grist for infinite speculation, but anyone who believes that Democratic presidents are constitutionally reluctant to initiate wars of aggression are ignorant of history, including recent history. Just look at Barack Obama, who, shortly after becoming president, committed an additional 33,000 troops to the failed occupation in Afghanistan, and who expanded the war into Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia; and violated the War Powers Act by committing U. S. military forces to assist the rebels in Libya.
We must be practical, Cordle insists, and vote for the lesser evil, lest we become saddled with the greater evil. This rests upon the assumption that Obama is somehow less awful than Romey: that he is actually the lesser evil. Sadly, it isn't so. Romney and Obama are like two varieties of vanilla ice cream. In foreign and domestic policy, there's minuscule cosmetic or strategic differences in how they intend to pursue their goals, but the problem is that their goals are identical. In foreign policy, both believe that the U.S. should wield aggressive military force to maintain hegemonic control over the rest of the world and crush any country that dares to disobey us.
In domestic policy, both represent the interests of the corporate plutocracy that feels entitled to amass as much wealth as they can suck up with legal impunity. Both candidates accept the premise that we are on the verge of a financial apocalypse caused by the budget deficit. Both plan to deal with the deficit by imposing cruel austerity measures, Romney with the Ryan budget; Obama by implementing the Simpson-Bowles plan. Both approaches substantially reduce Social Security and Medicare benefits to those least able to endure a decrease in their standard of living.
Choosing between these two candidates is like answering a question from a marauder armed with a shotgun who asks you whether you'd prefer him to blow off your left leg or your right.
As I've said before in reply to Mr. Cordle, I'm not looking for a perfect president or a saint. I am looking for someone who will actually honor his inaugural oath to uphold and protect the Constitution, and one who sees it as his primary duty to "provide for the general welfare," rather than facilitate the interests of those who have everything they need but feel entitled to more at others' expense. Obama has failed miserably in carrying out those obligations. During his brief tenure in the Senate, he expanded the surveillance of Americans by voting to legalize warrantless wiretapping by the government and immunized telcoms who broke the law by doing so during the Bush administration. As president, he signed the NDAA, giving the president the power to arrest and indefinitely imprison a person without trial, negating the doctrine of habeas corpus, formerly one of the few remaing protections against a police state. Obama now routinely orders the extra-judicial assassination of others, including American citizens, based solely on his own determination of who's an enemy deserving of termination by a drone missile strike.
It is you who are being impractical, Mr. Cordle, not I, by voting for someone who has failed his Constitutional duties and the American people, yet expects him to act differently once he has been returned to office.
Just vote for the admittedly terrible Democrat, you're argument goes, because he's a hairs breadth less awful than the Republican, and work within the system. That's propaganda straight out of a junior high civics textbook, and it is a bullcon designed to perpetuate the two-party duopoly that tightens the noose around our necks ever tighter with each election.
I've heard it since I began voting 36 years ago. Millions of voters have been following your advice election after election for decades, and the result hasn't been any positive change in creating a genuinely progressive majority. Rather, it has cemented in place the two-part duopoly whereby electoral democracy has become a hollowed-out facade for the corporate plutocracy that owns and runs this country. Voting for Obama only reifies this awful system and reduces the likelihood of any systemic change.
The only way to change a system is to stop supporting it and start supporting alternatives. Romney and Obama are the two-faced Janus fronting for the robber barrons who are creating the new gilded age we live in. Neither will change anything. Obama has demonstrated it. Romney has only announced his intentions. Both support the same status quo.
In closing, I'm reminded of two quotations, both of which, ironically, were inculcated from high school history texts.
"One man with courage is a majority"
"Make sure you're right, then go ahead."