The United States is in the final month of election madness. There has been much discussion here about liberals, progressives or the left and Obama and how liberals react to the inclusion of third party candidates in elections. The Dissenter will continue to cover delusions among liberals about this election.
Last week, I wrote about the illusion of democracy in the 2012 election. I went on the excellent radio program, Radio Dispatch, with hosts John Knefel and Molly Knefel and discussed the post. Particularly, I highlighted how the run of Ralph Nader in the 2000 Election has been transformed into an impediment to discussions and efforts to further democratize elections. I also talked about what I called the “Five Stages of Support for Obama.”
Both Molly and John had some excellent questions for me during my appearance. They gave me ample amount of time to share my views as well.
John asked me about Obama’s personality. He said Obama has become known as the “Trust Me” president and that has allowed for infringements of civil liberties that progressives tolerate and celebrate because of trust invested in him and added this is “fundamentally anti-democratic in a disturbing way” and he thought it had been a troubling trend.
I gave a complete reaction and addressed the reality that I am a person of white privilege. Then, I made clear my belief that the folks over at Black Agenda Report really are on to something. I did not mention this specifically, but, as Glen Ford, Executive Editor of BAR has stated, he is and has been the more effective evil, able to institute atrocious policies domestically and abroad, which George W. Bush would not have been able to institute if he had tried to do so as president. Obama has been able to do this under cover of the label “First Black President.” And, I noted various issues that have gone tremendously ignored in African-American communities, such as mass incarceration, segregation in schools and austerity measures that further contribute to poverty and unemployment.
One myth promoted by liberals is that people who vote third party are able to do so because they are privileged. They are doing it because they can and there will be no impact to them socially if it “spoiled” the election of the Democrat and the Republican happened to win.
I addressed the myth:
…If you think about the struggles between low-wage farm workers against their owners, if you think the strikers in the Walmart warehouses and you think about their masters, their owners, you think their people who are dictating the conditions, which they work in—Those [owners] are actually counting on those low-wage workers and those warehouse workers not questioning those conditions, not rising up because they’re going to put their job at risk and they’re going to be cast out. Or, they’re not going to be able to continue working because they decided to raise a fuss. So, they’re saying you wouldn’t resist what we do to you because you know you are going to be on your own. But, if you talk to a lot of those workers who have decided to rise up, like the people who just negotiated a fair food contract with Chipotle, you see that they’re tremendously empowered by not letting those conditions dictate how they engage in resistance.
And, I would say that is almost analogous to us. In some cases, we are slaves to the two-party system and continue to submit to its conditions and the fact that we continue to do so is because we have been led to believe that there is nothing we can do besides play inside the box and so, if we step outside the box, we’re going to be in trouble, we’re going to lose. But I would say that is a short term issue, that we are thinking about it all in the short-term. You might actually stand to gain much more in the long term by stepping outside…
Molly read an exceptional piece of listener mail at the end of the hour program that tied into much of what I had said during my segment:
First, I am a white man that has experienced privilege and used it to survive. I know that. Second, I have loved and supported a dear woman for forty-two years, who has put all her strength into fighting for vulnerable women—everything from a food co-op to a rape crisis center to research of non-English speaking women and healthcare.
She and I are in agreement. We have had it with voting for the evil of two lessers and we won’t do it again. Every leader we knew in our youth—Martin Luther King, Jr, John and Robert Kennedy, Mark Clark and Fred Hamptom, draftees from our community to Vietnam, tens of leaders from the Black Panther Party (the real one), students at Kent State and Jackson State—were killed when we were young. Going into electoral politics was not an option. We felt our lives were at risk just speaking out and all our energy went to surviving and keeping the work going.
I personally spoke out against the war while in uniform, fully expecting to spend my life in prison. The massive resistance to the war saved my white neck. At a point, however, despite the oppressive violence, things eased a bit and we felt we had won a space to go into electoral politics and build a progressive base. We were wrong. Obama’s a good example of the failure. He first ran trying to unseat a former Panther leader, who was on the Chicago City Council, Bobby Rush. He lost and I forgot Obama did that. Stupid me.
Obama has continued Republican foreign policy and is prepared to compromise on domestic issues to a degree that is really terrifying. He has appointed women to the Supreme Court, who will—I am sure—vote to limit Roe v. Wade when the time comes. He has put into place a healthcare system that will do absolutely nothing to quell the bankruptcies of families swamped by healthcare costs. I have personal experience with this, as my brother recently successfully went into bankruptcy over healthcare costs. Obama’s ACA will soon enough become swamped with uninsured people and raising costs and we will have to fight tooth and nail for the thirty or so million left out by the system.
Essentially, our experience is that we should not delude ourselves into thinking that one man can protect our lives from above. Obama is just a man and a relatively weak one. If we don’t have organized people from below, we are fucked.
Now the question is, should we vote for Obama in the short-term because he can in the short run protect what rights we have won and give us time to further organize? Our answer: no. Obama is going to sell us out. We are going to war with Iran, no doubt about it, and it is going to take us down a path of horrific violence and oppression. So, we are not voting for the bastard again.
Like the hosts said, this listener does not mince words and it provides a context to help people hopefully understand that people on the left were once getting killed. The stakes seem a bit lower now, which is all the more reason to stand up and fight for what is right.
John praised Firedoglake as “one of the most reliable sources for information that is very, very critical of the Democratic Party and very, very much to the left of the Democratic Party. They were an indispensable source for information during the health care debate and continue to be indispensable, especially with drone stuff that has been happening.”
The praise should be returned. So, I want all who read this to know that these two people put a lot of thought and work into producing their one-hour radio program. They always are discussing subjects that should be hot topics not just among progressives but among all citizens. And they a display a great journalistic commitment to question conventional wisdom and fully explore the nuances of subjects so listeners have a more complete understanding of issues.
After my segment, Molly said she thought it was important what was raised about Obama’s campaign and how it informs conversation amongst people on the left or informs their perceptions of him. She said she wanted to further the conversation and get more voices involved in a discussion so, after listening to the program, I encourage all readers to send comments to radiodispatch[at]gmail[dot]com.