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mygif

Pretty sure that conservatives used to have a purity-voting thing in Canada, until all the right wing parties kind of smooshed together. (And even now in the US, there *are* people who are going to be voting Ron Paul if they can.)

With liberals, there seem to be more causes, and each cause is getting its own party while the major party is trying to say “Hey, we’re pretty moderate, don’t you think? EVERYONE can vote for us!”

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I don’t think anyone should be president. I’m not voting because… why bother? Everyone’s a shitbag anyway.

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But the wrong lizard might get in!

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Nobody for President!

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I pretty much agree. I think a lot of people neglect the fact that the practice of politics should absolutely be a practical thing. It is about creating the change you desire in the most effective way possible. What that should mean, at the representative level, is representatives making deals to trade one set of goods against another while trying to create the best possible outcome. Not blindly following ideological precepts about “X absolutely cannot be allowed to happen”, but actively weighing the bad against the good. No choice will produce only good, even if everybody agreed on how good or bad each thing was, so it’s all about finding the best compromise possible.

And it’s similar at the level of the individual citizen. We should be working as individuals to create the best realistic change possible. I don’t think that means never voting for a candidate that can’t win–there are in fact good arguments for showing support of other possible policies as a means of nudging the platforms of those who do end up in power–but it does mean that when you make such a choice, you should be cognizant of exactly what choice you’re making. In this case: reducing the support of a candidate who has shown support of many principles you agree with in favor of making that nudge. It shouldn’t be about absolute ideology, it should be about creating the best change you can as an individual voter.

And more importantly, of course, this means that if you want to create lasting serious change in the political landscape, you need to engage in politics across the board. Not just as a voter, but as a citizen. Participate in local politics to try to change party platforms or to raise consciousness of alternative parties you support. Work for local candidates.

And the biggest thing, I think, that many of us in America have stopped doing, is to engage our fellow citizens in political discourse. We treat this like it’s some plague, like talking politics must necessarily destroy families and friendships. But that’s not how it ought to be. We ought to look forward to talking with others about what we care about, and bringing them around to our point of view. And if there’s not much we can agree on, perhaps there’s at least one thing that we can all go away from a conversation with and say “I’m going to try to get my party and fellow-thinkers to consider this thing more important, because we’ve been leaving it to rot.”

Being a good citizen is hard, it’s true. But it’s the only way to really change how decisions are made. Sure, the party machines are out there trying to keep their parties’ candidates in power–but we have the capability to create change by making a difference in what policies those big machines will drive in an attempt to satisfy the electorate.

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FeepingCreature said on November 5th, 2012 at 8:25 pm

But the hilariously sad thing about the election is – the wrong lizard really would get in. It’s not illusory.

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Allosaurus for President! (See the poll in the box.)

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Mitchell Hundred said on November 5th, 2012 at 9:03 pm

An MGK post on which voting system is the best and why is a thing that I would read (he hinted subtly).

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Joe Gualtieri said on November 5th, 2012 at 9:06 pm

Bullshit. It depends on where you live. Popular votes for third party candidates determine whether or not their party gets federal funding in the next go-round. If you’re liberal in live in Ohio, yes you should vote for Obama as the lesser of two evils, but if you live in MA, you should be voting for a real liberal like Stein.

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I don’t know about in other countries but I’m not sure that Alternative Vote thing would make Americans any happier. I mean for conservatives who would like to vote for Ron Paul but plan to hold their nose and vote for Romney the result of voting for Romney with only one choice and their vote ultimately counting for Romney because he’s the highest ranked Republican the result would feel the same

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had I written it, the title would have been “If You Vote For Mitt Romney, You Are Either A Tremendous Dipshit Or A Rich Bastard, And Possibly Both”

I thought you already wrote it, and titled it “Presidential Debate Livebloggin’”.

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Alexi Sargeant said on November 5th, 2012 at 11:15 pm

This brand of utilitarianism is short-sighted in the extreme. Chris actually outlines many of the problems and shortcomings of the two party straightjacket, then advises us to do nothing to combat it. A vote for a third party is a vote against this stupidity. If you think the system needs to be changed, you should vote with that conviction — because only through votes will the system actually be changed. It requires a degree of future-mindedness to follow this, but if we ever want to move away from parties that cater to their lunatic fringes, we need to be heard, and caving in to vote for the lesser of two evils is hardly the way to do that.

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Blue Blaze 88 said on November 5th, 2012 at 11:17 pm

Apologies for the text wall.

OK, I’m replying not because I’m Very Angry that MGK has a different opinion than mine, nor because I believe I’m going to change anyone’s mind on the basic issue at hand (to vote, or not to vote), but I do think MGK (et al) is intelligent and reasonable enough to at least consider an outside and differing opninion on the reasons why someone might choose not to vote. So here are a few:

Not Left Enough – while I agree that voting shouldn’t be a purity contest, I think saying “Obama isn’t liberal enough, because Blah” can be either an obnoxiously simplistic opinion (to a lefty capitalist democrat) or a perfectly reasonable one (to, ie, a die hard communist). Refusing to vote for Obama because he didn’t fulfill every single campaign promise or because he’s not quite as liberal as you, is, in the face of a Romney America, silly (especially in Ohio). Refusing to vote for Obama because he represents the left party of two democratic, captialist, free market parties and you consider anything less than a 90% tax on wealth over 250k a year to be an oligarchy of the rich… well for that voter choosing between Romney’s 10% and Obama’s 15% is not a stark or distinctive choice. MGK might personally wish Obama were further to the left, but I think MGK agrees with a good amount of his platform, and realizes the obstacles Obama (or anyone ) might have to striving for (or even acknowledging) some of the leftier opinions. But (gasp) one can be even further to the left than MGK. Saying “how can you not see the difference?!” between two ladies who are attractive in different ways is a less persuasive argument when, say, the speaker (and the ladies) are all cats. Not that I’m racist or anything…I just don’t see why my cat makes the choices he does, despite his frustrated lectures on pheromones.

Voting System Woes – if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool democrat, and want your vote counted, then there’s a degree of personal satisfaction to be gained in going to the polls deep in the Texas red… But your vote is literally going to have zero actual impact. And if you’re not enthusiastic about your choice and you live in a state/district/etc that’s such a foregone conclusion that it was called before the nominations, then I, personally, don’t blame you for deciding not to show up and cast a losing vote on principle. Yes, you might (infinitesimally) bump up the popular vote and Send A Message, but, well, when you consider how chastened GW Bush was by losing the popular (read: I’m not entirely sure he noticed), I think there’s room to disagree on how important that is and whether it’s worth your time. And before anyone gets defensive, again, I’m not ignoring the value of personal satisfaction (if voting gives you any). Before anyone goes on the offensive, well, I think a lot of the readers here lament recent court decisions and general trends in contributions, money equalling speech, etc. If the increasing ability to throw money at campaigns has no impact then why do both parties do it (and why does it worry people)? If the increasing power of money in elections does, in fact, have an impact, why shouldn’t that disillusion people, some possibly more than others? Is it really so inconceivable that at least some potential voters might look at an already decided district with entrenched party dominance and the ever increasing power of wealth (and diminishing importance on non-donating single votes) and decide to sit one out?

Droit de se Plaindre – MGK didn’t mention this old chestnut but I will – the old Right To Complain argument. And the thing is, this argument has merit…from the other side of the glass. That is, If You Vote, You Have No Right To Complain. Now, obviously I don’t think this is true on a fundamental (legal) level; everyone has the right to complain (and if you don’t have free speech or the legal right to complain, then your “natural” Right To Complain boils down to armed revolt. Read more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Revolution). But in the sense of Sour Grapes and all that, I think participating in choosing a leader (especially in making a choice you don’t really believe in) kind of sullies your complaints later when things don’t go the way you’d like. If you know the flaws of the system, the parties, the candidates, etc and you choose anyway, you’re more or less accepting the terms. Sure, you CAN complain that you lost at Vegas and that you’re pretty sure those casinos were rigged, but really you should have known better…no, wait, you did know better, and then you went and gambled anyway. There are people who are genuinely and fundamentally disgusted with the current system (for a variety of reasons, all over the spectrum), and I think choosing not to vote can be, if actively decided from a place of actual disillusionment, a valid and even principled choice.

Anarchy In The UK – because Burn It Down, Man, Burn It All Down.

All this isn’t to say you’re wrong to vote. Nor that you shouldn’t vote unless there’s a candidate who not only agrees with your every opinion, but also has the ability to somehow make that opinion into reality despite any obstacles. But I do think there are perfectly reasonable and legitimate reasons why someone might deliberately and logically decide that they would prefer not to vote.

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It always perplexes me when people divorce conscience from consequence; it’s so Augustinian of them to not care what happens to the rest of the world so long as their purity of essence goes unsullied.

I’d be alright with it if others didn’t have to suffer, but that’s not the case.

— Steve

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Blue Blaze 88 said on November 5th, 2012 at 11:21 pm

Also, saying that hippies hilariously look like Shaggy from Scooby Doo is like saying Alex Trebec hilariously looks like Will Farrell’s Jeopardy host.

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This brand of utilitarianism is short-sighted in the extreme. Chris actually outlines many of the problems and shortcomings of the two party straightjacket, then advises us to do nothing to combat it. A vote for a third party is a vote against this stupidity.

Bravo, sir.

Voting for Jill Stein arguably makes it worse, because a vote for Jill Stein is, essentially, a proxy vote for Mitt Romney when the election is so close.

This was an idiotic guilt tactic when John used it, and it is just as bad here. This statement is simply not true. It is an attempt to blame the third-party voter for the failings of the candidate you favor. If I refuse to help either person A or person B over a wall…whichever of them climbs faster without my help will win, and that is the fault of whoever climbs slower, not me.

BOTH parties claim that third-party votes are “proxy votes for the other guy”. They are both wrong, and so are you.

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Blue Blaze 88 said on November 5th, 2012 at 11:34 pm

Anton, what you’re saying is true, IF you accept that there’s a Right And Wrong way to vote, and/or that some hypothetical person of conscience is failing to see an important difference of consequence rather than a cosmetic one. If Ms. Superright thinks Ayn Rand is a pinko lefty apologist and that not only should abortion and birth control be illegal, but that every citizen should have the right (nay, duty) to execute (personally, or by lynch mob) anyone who somehow gets access to either, then really Mitt’s no more appealing than Obama. If Ms. Superleft thinks that personal possessions are an archaic holdover from feudalism, that all property is theft (from other sentiments and, of course, Mother Earth), and marriage and entrenched sexuality (hetero- or homo-…anything but bi-) should be abolished (being just different versions of slavery), then is Obama really closer to her world view than Romney?

And I know these are ludicrous strawmen arguments, but I also know that the electorate is chock-a-block full of nutters and loonies, some of which make the above look tamely moderate, and if you don’t like the Ida of people like them voting, well you’re the one who’s all Yay, Democracy, Rah Rah Consequences.

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Chris actually outlines many of the problems and shortcomings of the two party straightjacket, then advises us to do nothing to combat it. A vote for a third party is a vote against this stupidity.

No. It’s not.

Parliamentary FPTP systems default to what is for all intents and purposes a two-party system, just with some regional parties kicking around.

But the American system DOES NOT allow that. Absent major changes to how we do things here, and by major I mean ‘the Senate and the Presidency are abolished’ major, the country will always default to TWO PARTIES. That is how it works.

Voting Green will do nothing to change in that. Perhaps in the wildest of fantasies, there could be a day when the Greens are one OF the two parties. But voting for Jill Stein in no way, shape, or form moves us away from that. Not even minimally; as far as I know the Greens don’t have major reform of that nature as part of their agenda.

You want to break the two-party straightjacket, you’ll need a constitutional amendment, and getting one of those requires strong national consensus because of the supermajority requirements involved.

That said, amending the constitution is easier than people think it is. It seems hard these days because the amendments that get proposed always seem to be nuttery, things like ‘Balanced Budget Amendment’ or ‘No Flag Burning Amendment’ or ‘Abortion Makes Baby Jesus Sad Amendment’ but until the 70s we amended the constitution fairly frequently. My grandmother, who is still alive? Lived through no less than EIGHT of them.

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Blue Blaze 88 said on November 5th, 2012 at 11:44 pm

Ah, but Spartakos, you’re forgetting that if I have a personal preference as to who should get over the wall first then you have an obligation to help the person I want to be faster, and any failure on your part to do so is really Sabotage By Neglect. because screw your preference for C, if C were so great why don’t I support her?

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Blue Blaze 88 said on November 5th, 2012 at 11:51 pm

Murc, one can have a presidency without the electoral college (ie. based on popular vote) and a senate without a first past the post system (proportional, based on total statewide voting rather than districts, etc).

Also, even within a two party system, voting for a third party is perfectly viable and valid. If enough people vote Green, perhaps it will move the Democratic party to the left (voting Tea Party certainly has moved at least some Republicans to the Right). And just because you have a two party system, it doesn’t mean it will always be the same two…. people voting for third parties is part of the reason why the Whig Party isn’t around to run in this election.

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Blue Blaze 88 said on November 5th, 2012 at 11:55 pm

Also Murc, nice going mentioning the Abortion Makes Baby Jesus Sad Amendment… with a title like that, Republicans HAVE to try to pass it.

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“popular vote will have rhetorical purpose”? I’d rather vote for my ideals than just bragging rights. That didn’t matter at all for Bush, he still won in 04 inexplicably.

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Anticorium said on November 6th, 2012 at 12:02 am

Chris actually outlines many of the problems and shortcomings of the two party straightjacket, then advises us to do nothing to combat it.

That’s funny. The post I read described exactly how the far right in America recovered from the shitkicking they received in the 1960s and took over the Republican Party from the bottom up, one local and state race at a time.

But it is much cooler to sit around writing “President Jill Stein” inside a heart on your Trapper Keeper than to campaign for deputy county water commissioner, so really, either or.

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Heksefatter said on November 6th, 2012 at 12:41 am

I am going to repeat what I see as the problem of Obama.

Obama has crippled popular opposition to the authoritarian policies of the Bush era. He is expanding a surveillance state, with drones watching every American citizen, and HE CAN MAKE PEOPLE PUT UP WITH IT!

This, to me, is a true disaster. It is not just a purity test, but that partly, I think that people should stop playing by the two-party system’s rules and partly that I have a faint hope that if someone as unlikeable as Romney took power, liberals might actually get their act just a tiny bit together.

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Murc, one can have a presidency without the electoral college (ie. based on popular vote) and a senate without a first past the post system (proportional, based on total statewide voting rather than districts, etc).

I think you prove my point for me, no? Both of those would also fall under the category of major structural change requiring constitutional amendments.

You could have a Senate without a first past the post system, but if you have the ability to change the Constitution like that, why not do away with it altogether? It’s hideously undemocratic and malaportioned; Wyoming has less people living in it than my country does and it gets two full Senators. Conversely, California has nearly as many people in it as any two other states and it ONLY gets two Senators.

If enough people vote Green, perhaps it will move the Democratic party to the left (voting Tea Party certainly has moved at least some Republicans to the Right).

… you think people vote Tea Party. That the Tea Party is an actual political party that fields candidates that people vote for.

I’m sorry, but this is so ill-informed I have to question your ability to have an opinion on other matters.

The ‘Tea Party’ is a faction within the Republican Party. It does not field candidates of its own. It rather influences the Republican Party from within, because it knows going third party would be sort of dumb.

As for ‘voting Green will move the Democrats to the left…’ no. It doesn’t work that way.

When you exit a political party, you make it LESS likely to respond to your needs, rather than MORE. When the segregationists finally took their ball and went home (after years of threatening to do so) the Democrats did not go ‘whoa! All these people have LEFT. We’d better start trying to appeal to them!’

Allow me to quote the excellent Erik Loomis of Lawyers, Guns, and Money, who said it more eloquently than I ever could:

There is a clear path to change. Conservatives understand this. You take over the party structure. That’s what they did in the 1950s and 1960s when they were disgusted by the moderate Republicanism of Dwight Eisenhower, Earl Warren, and Nelson Rockefeller. They took over party structures and local offices and turned them into bastions of energized conservatism. Note that conservatives basically don’t run 3rd party campaigns. Libertarians might talk about doing this–but they almost all vote Republican in the end because they know that they are moving their agenda forward by doing so.

Any reading of history shows that change within the American political system does not come through third party campaigns. It comes through the hard work of organizing our communities to demand change. Eventually legal and political changes are necessary–but only after people are organized to demand them. Look at the major movements in the last century. The labor movement, African-American civil rights, the women’s movement, gay rights movement. Each of these movements spent decades (or a century) organizing for change. For each of them, there was a moment when it all came together and they could demand transformations of federal and state law, which for gay rights is happening right now.

Note that not a single one of these transformational social movements used a third party mechanism as an important strategy.

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The fact that there is an ongoing debate on whether or not to vote for Obama because he isn’t Jill Stein has left me speechless.

You know guys (Spartakos, Anton), I can understand if you think the way the game is played is unfair and broken, because it is in many ways.

I understand your concerns. What I can’t understand is how you’re willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater on this. Do you honestly believe that voting for Jill Stein instead of Obama will help this country? Do you honestly believe that given how close this election is (closer than it should be, this is starting to look like 2000), that not voting for Obama will somehow not affect the results?

Now, believe me, I can understand having your voice lost in the system. I live in Utah for crying out loud! If Jesus descended from heaven and ran as a Democrat Utah would still go to Mitt. Despite knowing that I am going to vote for Barack Obama tomorrow.

Part of the reason is that this will be my first time voting in a Presidential election. Part of it is due to the fact that, despite his issues, I think Obama deserves a second term (note that I didn’t say second chance). But the biggest reason why I’ll be voting is that I don’t want Mitt Romney to be President, and the best way to do that is to back the best contender.

So go ahead and vote Jill Stein or don’t vote at all if that’s what you want, free country and all that. Just acknowledge the fact that this election and most likely all future elections will be decided on who marshals the bigger voter turnout, and that right now both sides are scrambling for that little extra to push them over the top.

Just keep that in mind.

(And now for a not entirely appropriate nerdy epilogue)

Barack Obama is the President America deserves, but not the one it needs right now.

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@Murc, I agree with everything you said, except the change from the Electoral College to a popular vote model wouldn’t require any constitutional change. There’s a simple, elegant solution that currently exists, and has actually been adopted in several states. It’s called the National Popular Vote Compact. Basically it establishes a model state law (only effective once enough states to represent more than 270 votes are in the compact) that directs the Secretaries of State to select electors based on the national popular vote. You would have a true first-past-the-post system. The Constitution explicitly leaves the selection of electors to the states discretion, no Constitutional Amendment required.

@Spartakos: The Green party has in the past received both cash and administrative support from the Republican party. Why do you think that is?

@Blue Blaze: your argument that if you participate in a democratic process you actually lose your moral authority to complain about the leadership elected through that democratic process is the single most ridiculous thing I have read in this election cycle.

@Hek: You know, you said in the last thread you wish McCain had been elected. That would have had some fairly weighty consequences. No Fair Pay Act for Women. No overturn of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. No endorsement of Gay marriage, or lack of DOJ defense for DOMA. No auto bailout. None of the schools build with ARRA. No increase in Pell Grants for disadvantaged students. No two liberal supreme court justices (say goodbye to reproductive freedom), and the first meaningful systemic health care reform since FDR. No increases in the safety net for SNAP, Housing, and unemployment. All for a guy who would have been WORSE ON ALL THE ISSUES YOU CARE ABOUT for the unproven fantasy that Democrats would have rallied in the face of a(nother) far right wing president. Because it would have happened this time. Really.

That’s a lot of ground for a lot of disadvantaged people in this country to wish away. that’s a lot of progress on Civil Rights to wish away, just because it’s not the sort of Civil Rights you seem to care about. For a fantasy that wouldn’t have come true anyway.

I’m sorry, but I have a hard time taking your argument seriously.

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Blue Blaze 88 said on November 6th, 2012 at 1:55 am

Murc, I agree with you on Major Structural Change, just not your (perhaps deliberately hyperbolic) ‘the Senate and the Presidency are abolished’ modifier, which is why I used those two examples. And yeah, I would agree with you on getting rid of the senate, I was simply saying one could have a Senate (if one wanted one, perhaps because one was worried Rhode Island would be ignored while California got all the sweet pork) in a different electoral system.

And yes, Murc, I’m aware that the Tea Party is the Koch Bros.’ pet project, a temporary affiliation for some Republicans and right wing “independents.” I’m also aware that there are candidates running (and who ran) for nomination, candidates calling themselves Tea Party candidates running against people calling themselves Republicans. I’m aware that, right or wrong about what constitutes a proper political party, there are voters who consider themselves Tea Party rather than Republican, and that this voting pattern and their affiliation (correct or not) influences how other candidates act… This may not be a third party in the sense of Liberals in the UK or the Green Party in France or Germany, but it’s as much a third party as the Bull Moose party, or the Reform Party….. That is, as much as the US ever has a third party. Either a one-issue party that gets absorbed by one (or both) of the dominant Two, or an offshoot that at least tries to affect change in the party its members once belonged to.

As far as “exiting,” I’m not talking about someone sending a stern letter to the Democratic National Convention, where Al Gore will read ones explanation as to why one is leaving the DNC for the Greens. One can vote Third Party for one office and Democrat for all the others. One can vote Green even if registered as a democrat. Choosing a third party in one, specific election for one specidfic office is not “exiting” anything, and that’s assuming that Dems or Republicans are more concerned with appeasing their party faithful than they are swing voters (which, due to the electoral process, they’d be fools to do). I’m not saying voting Third Party always influences a party, or always does it better than working from within… But sometimes it can and does, and sometimes it has. If, in the next three presidential elections, republicans voted straight ticket republican for local, house, senate…everything but president, and for president a sizeable chunk (say 15%?) voted third party, for a candidate who was obviously republican EXCEPT s/he was no-bones-about-it, absolutely going to do everything possible to abolish abortion (litmus test for judges, push for amendment, etc)… I’m not saying this would work in the sense of actually making abortion illegal. But it might move the issue to the right (waiting period? Parental content nationally? Read anti-abortion literature first?) and would definitely make the republicans think about running a clearly anti-abortion candidate.

As far as your quote, working within a party can sometimes work quite well, especially if one does it on a national level, from the grassroots up (which, by definition, means you need major planning, control and lots of funding. This really only worked in the Republican Party as well as it did because of Reed’s Christian coalition efforts and cash, et al). Republicans / the Right do have the occasional third party (remember Perot? Does anyone think he bled support off of Clinton?), though not many at all since the Nixon realignment (which wasn’t that long ago). But I think that has more to do with circumstance and trends in politics (underdog adjusting to more powerful opponent) than to Left or Right.

I’m not saying third party is the only way to go, or always the best way, or espousing any kind of Voting X Always Has Y Effect theory. I’m saying that the people who seem to have the biggest problem with voting off ticket/third party, who say it’s Wrong or Bad or Stupid, Always and for Everyone, seem to very often be people who want one of the two major parties to win, that is, who have (or think they have) something to lose when someone else votes for Not Their Candidate, and that even if you, personally, disagree with voting for Green, that doesn’t make someone else an idiot for doing it.

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Walter Kovacs said on November 6th, 2012 at 1:58 am

Joe Gualtieri said on November 5th, 2012 at 9:06 pm
Bullshit. It depends on where you live. Popular votes for third party candidates determine whether or not their party gets federal funding in the next go-round. If you’re liberal in live in Ohio, yes you should vote for Obama as the lesser of two evils, but if you live in MA, you should be voting for a real liberal like Stein.

This. A version of this argument was basically made the other day on Last Word with Laurence O’Donnell. The presidency is basically going to be determined by a couple of swing states, so if you are in one of the ‘solidly’ blue or red states, that particular vote doesn’t count for much. In that case, voting third party is better for that person than it would be for Obama. Worst case scenario, Obama ends up winning the college while losing the popular vote, and that gives the GOP an excuse to not treat him as legit (like they need a reason). That might end up sparring the movement of various states wanting to get together and basically agree to pledge their college votes to the person who gets the popular vote and thus eliminate the Electoral College by doing an end run around it.

Of course, the president is only one part of the puzzle. There is still the whole issue of the House, the Senate, and the state governments, etc. Independents might be a better fit down on the lower levels. A third party isn’t going to make it to the white house, but getting a couple of people into the Senate that aren’t going to necessarily vote straight party line might create room for compromise (admittedly, they are either worthless or get to play Vice President, since they are either a tie breaking vote, or no. In the case of a non-tie senate, they might be someone that can be a way of getting around stubborn moderates/extremists that want to hold up a bill to move it closer to their direction).

Pretending that the presidential component is the be all end all is about as dangerous as thinking it doesn’t matter at all. There is still the big stuff (appointments to the Supreme Court being one of them) that is extremely important, but the president only has a few things they can do unilaterally. [Maybe if Congress didn't make it so that the President could do nothing domestically, he wouldn't be making sure he doesn't have to go to Congress for doing stuff overseas. Like killing people with robots.].

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Blue Blaze 88 said on November 6th, 2012 at 2:13 am

John 2.0 – you mean I beat Romney’s Five Point Plan AND Obama’s “I think Mitt Romney is a good man” quote for most ridiculous? WHERE IS MY PRIZE?

OK, I should’ve been clearer (I’m on a device, typing equals frowny face). I don’t think you have NO moral right to complain ABOUT LEADERSHIP if you vote, I think you LESS (moral) right to complain about PROCESS (or, at least, that someone who worries about the Right To Complain or Principles might see things this way). If you vote Obama and (bizzaro world) Romney wins, complain all you want about Romney, his policies, etc.. After all, that’s (presumably) why you voted Obama. But one (consciencious abstainer) might think you have less right to complain about the role of money in elections, the role of negative ads, all the stuff both parties use and that you’re at least tacitly endorsing by voting (at least in the sense that if Obama wins you won’t be running around demanding a recount because he used soft money, etc). If you vote, you “should” be (ideally) informed enough to know what rules everyone plays by.

My example (way) above (right to complain) was about a hypothetical person who chooses not to vote because they don’t want to endorse a political system where donations, celebrity endorsements, soft money, etc play such a huge role. I’m not saying this point of view is the right one or the most reasonable, just that it is at least somewhat reasonable, a justifiable reason to choose not to vote, etc.

Seriously, though, I want my prize.

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bad johnny got out said on November 6th, 2012 at 2:19 am

@Heksefatter: I have a faint hope that if someone as unlikeable as Romney took power, liberals might actually get their act just a tiny bit together.

The liberals would get their act together, by pulling toward the right.

A conservative victory will not be taken as a liberal mandate. The people in power will perceive it as (surprise!) a conservative mandate. And the rest of the country will follow or be dragged in that direction.

Why do Barack Obama and Bill Clinton seem like conservatives? Because we don’t have a liberal party, and a conservative party. We have a conservative party and a fascist party. What?! How did that happen?

And why are they called by the wrong names?

Well… when Reagan (and before him Nixon) pulled the Republicans to the far right, the Democrats got pulled along with them, to the center right. The Democrats would have found themselves unelectable otherwise.

Past performance of course is no guarantee of future results. However, your idea has been tried before, in the other direction, and it didn’t work in the appealingly counterintuitive way that you want it to.

We have to reward our leaders on the “left,” if we want to bend our country back to the left.

If we’re patient enough, and we keep the Republicans in the minority long enough, the right wing might even move back to the center someday and become less vocally pro-rape.

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If America had a parlimentary FPTP system it would probably have a Republican party with seats dominating the rural Midwest and South, a Democratic party dominating the coasts and Northeast, and maybe a Green party and Libertarian party with a few seats here and there

I’m not sure why you would think that. It doesn’t make sense if you replace “had a parliamentary FPTP system” with “had a stronger legislature and a much weaker presidency”, which means the same thing. But there is no more impediment to the election of third-party Representatives in America than there is to the election of third-party MPs in Canada. That there are more parties in the Canadian Parliament than in the American House has nothing to do with parliamentarianism, but is rather down to historical and geographical quirks of the respective countries’ political systems.

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Heksefatter said on November 6th, 2012 at 4:54 am

@John 2.0 and bad johnny

I know full well that it is a faint hope that liberals would get their act together, but you are missing a central point:

*Obama has taken the liberals farther to the right than a Republican president ever could.*

Obama has not just destroyed Congressional liberal support for civil rights. He has succesfully destroyed *liberal voter support* for civil rights. We are swiftly moving towards a truly authoritarian society, and Obama has destroyed meaningful opposition.

I sincerely doubt that a McCain presidency could have destroyed public support for civil rights as effectively as Obama. How could it? Obama has made people accept:

- Increased surveillance
- The further eroding of the right to trial
- Terrorism against Iran
- Dooming the people of northern Pakistan to live in abject terror.
- Torture
- The severe increase in prosecution of whistleblowers.
- Warmongering

To me, this is a complete and utter disaster. And I think that you’re missing the international perspective: Obama is cool and charming. He can win international support (as well as national) for his crimes to a far higher degree than any Republican could, given that any Republican president is pretty much universally despised internationally, since they hate diplomacy.

The Obama presidency has been a disaster. It is not that he has disappointed. It is that he is a disaster. Sure, he has done some good things, but the crushing of liberal support for civil rights, and making them accept horrendous crimes, is outright horrifying.

I can respect “the lesser evil” argument. I am not completely certain that I would vote for Jill Stein if I lived in a US swing state. What I can’t respect is the opinion that Obama is not an evil or not a severe one.

I am reminded of Redcloak’s support for Xykon: Refusing to admit a mistake and having come this far, he keeps accepting horrors.

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[...] protest goes, here are counter-arguments and discussions of how to move the Dems to the left from Mighty God King, Erik Loomis and Scott Lemieux. If it’s any comfort, I know people on the right who [...]

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Heksefatter said on November 6th, 2012 at 5:37 am

Just to give you personal example of how horrible I think Obama’s been:

I organized a small letter writing campaign from Denmark, writing the White House to close down the notorious School of the Americas, a military training institution whose alumni include dictators, organizers of genocide, death squad leaders and other mass murderers. The curriculum of the school is known to have included techniques of torture. The campaign was in support of a similar American-based one organized by the peace and civil rights organization, School of the Americas Watch.

Do you know what happened? Among the people who wrote a letter, there were nervousness that they might be registered in some shady government agency. People are starting to take that as a GIVEN. Not just a bad period that could possibly be defeated by kicking out the mostly-criminal Republican Party.

THIS is the crowning achievement of Mr. Hope & Change. He has killed the hope. And with Obama’s presidency, police state methods have been sugar coated enough to entrench them in Europe too.

I am utterly disgusted. Utterly. With Obama, I have lost my last confidence in US democracy. I was wrong. I thought he’d make things better. The democracy is a lie and I will put my efforts somewhere else than in the electoral system.

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I’ve voted practically in the past (John Kerry, most notably) I’ll vote practically in most of the races on this ballot.

But I cannot vote for Obama. I understand your argument, and, indeed, have made that same argument myself in the past (again, John Kerry) and, yes, I am aware that Romney as president is a much worse choice. But the NDAA is a step too far for me, and I’m not trying to win any prizes for “best liberal” I’m trying to operate under my own personal sense of ethics. I cannot bring myself to vote for someone who’s administration files appeals specifically to defend the indefinite detention clause of the NDAA. I cannot do it and not have a guilty conscience.

Am I aware that Jill Stein won’t win? Of course I am. However, the opportunity to see the Green Party get to 5% and get matching funds is, alone, worth it to me.

If I simply turn out and vote for the Democrat because he’s “less bad” then I am not following my own morals. Ultimately, that’s the line I have to draw.

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And I say all that as someone who was an Obama volunteer in 2008, and has donated money to his reelection campaign.

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Speaking as a non-American citizen, but someone who has always had an interest in US politics, I have agree with John’s original post and personally I will pretty much lose faith in the US political system if Romney wins.

I hate to make such an absolute statement but this election just eludes me.

I see no advantage to the United States in electing Mitt Romney as president. That’s it. Putting left wing and right wing aside, that’s what Americans have to actually should think about.

And lookit, it’s a two party system. Deal with it, that’s what the majority of democratic nations have have to do.

I mean, screw it, the right wing will vote for Romney because that’s what they do. Two terms of George W Bush have proved that. What really infuriates me is this view that I hear a lot about in this election of “Obama didn’t do what I wanted him to do” sentiment, that Mr Clint Eastwood, hard-core liberals and also the semi-left wing non-decided’s seem to continuallly expout. It doesn’t make sense.

Really? Not voting for Obama really helps you’re personal political ideals? How exactly??

Obama has lead the US through:
a major finacial crisis, two major overseas conflicts (that the previous president started),the death of the terrorist that committed the worst attack on US soil since Pearl Harbour

All this while dealing with the attacks from within his own country about his birthplace, and being a socialist and/or communist (sorry but American’s have no idea of what either of those terms mean).

Romney? He doesn’t like government healthcare, thinks poor people are lazy, doesn’t know or doesn’t want reveal what the his plans are for the economy once he is elected (though it will “better”) and is a Morman so, right-wing-fundamentalists-can-kinda-like-him-even-though-Mormonism-is-kinda-cultish-but-at-least-he-hates-gays-and-abortions.

Good luck America, but the fact that it looks like it is such a close race really baffles me.

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Heksefatter said on November 6th, 2012 at 6:56 am

@Bender

The situation isn’t that Obama hasn’t been a hardcore liberal. It is that he’s more or less a smiley-face-fascist. Like Bush, but better at it.

I repeat: OBAMA HAS CRUSHED LIBERAL OPPOSITION TO THE AUTHORITARIAN POLICIES.

Not just among liberal legislators, but among liberal voters. He has entrenched authoritarianism for a generation.

Secondly, it is not true that Obama has led us through two major overseas conflicts started by his predecessor. He is often credited for ending the war in Iraq, but in fact, he was merely forced by the Iraqi government to follow through with pledges that George Bush II had already made. And Obama fought the Iraqi government all the way, in order that the US could station permanent bases in Iraq. Failing that, he has instead made the US embassy into a military base.

As for Afghanistan, it’s raging on, and Obama is trying to maintain a military presence there. The point is that the war in Afghanistan is, to a great extent, a war for control in Central Asia.

You say that a Romney victory will make you lose faith in the US political system. Obama made me lose mine.

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Carlos Futino said on November 6th, 2012 at 7:20 am

That said, amending the constitution is easier than people think it is. It seems hard these days because the amendments that get proposed always seem to be nuttery, things like ‘Balanced Budget Amendment’ or ‘No Flag Burning Amendment’ or ‘Abortion Makes Baby Jesus Sad Amendment’ but until the 70s we amended the constitution fairly frequently. My grandmother, who is still alive? Lived through no less than EIGHT of them.

Totally off-topic, but I think it’s interesting that some countries consider living through eight amendments a lot… Current Brazilian Constitution dates from 1988, and has already been amendend more then 40 times. I kind of envy you guys…

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It super shits me when people bitch about the two party system like the Presidential election is the only thing that matters. If neither of the major party platforms suits you, support the local candidates who do, vote in the primaries. The fact is, there will never be third parties. Even if we move to a different voting system, there still probably won’t be third parties. You’ll still have a coalition that will have to compromise itself. But that’s the thing, it’s not a fucking decision between a giant douche and a turd sandwich. Well, it is, but it’s also so much fucking more than that. It’s your local school board, your local mayor, your state representatives, and all that other shit.

Grow the fuck up, and if you want politicians who really match your values to a T, you have to go fucking make them do it. Get involved, make the party suit you. Or vote for a 3rd party, because how the fuck has that worked out for you for the last 100 years?

God damn it, I’m rambling, but this sort of thing shits me so goddamn much. The idea that because the system doesn’t suit me perfectly so we need to throw it out and do something radically different.

FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK.

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This isn’t about a compromise he had to make. It’s about a portion of a law that he claimed he did not want to exist, and then when it was struck down by a federal court, his administration filed an appeal within 24 hours to fight to keep it. I will not compromise my own ethics and morality on this, and he lost my vote on one issue and one issue only.

That putting aside the fact that, when you plot him on a political quadrant, he’s barely to the left or below Romney, nor that I’m all the way in the opposite quadrant. I’ve put all that aside, the fact that the Democratic party is really a Center-Right party when compared to the vast majority of the world, for years, continued to do so on most of my ballot today, and will almost certainly continue to do so in the future, because Center-Right is still better than Right. But I cannot vote for someone who is fighting in federal court to defend indefinite detention, because it would be a violation of everything I believe in and stand for.

I’ve been involved in local politics my entire adult life, so you can take your pointless advice about how I should get involved and cram them up your ass.

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1) The last time a third party even got the 5% you’re hoping Jill Stein gets, we got George W Bush because hippies like you had to vote Nader. We went to war in Iraq, we got the Patriot Act, we got tax cuts for the wealthy, pretty much everything he did was bad. Is the possibility of matching funds worth that?

2) If you don’t like the candidates the major parties offer, the time to address that is not the general presidential election. It’s the local and state races, the early primaries, and the whole process before now.

The tea party is a good example because they got some of their people in Congress, in some cases going against incumbent Republicans, and got their agenda put into the Republican platform. One of their boys in now Romney’s running mate. The Koch brothers knew this was the way to go, they didn’t put their money into a third party or try to start one, it went where it would be most effective.

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Heksefatter said on November 6th, 2012 at 8:21 am

@Kentb3
Please cut out the stuff about name calling with people who disagree with you over this issue. While I disagree with the decision to vote for the lesser evil, I do understand it. And I do not disrespect people who do it.

I despise Obama. I think that in his own way, he has been almost a Bush-level disaster. He’s been worse than Bush’s second term. But I do get why people would prefer him to the frankly loathesome Romney and I will honestly say that while I *think* that I would vote for Jill Stein if I was a US citizen in a swing state, I am not sure that I wouldn’t change my mind in the voting booth.

But I don’t despise the people who consider Obama the lesser evil. I will not call them fascists, hippies, duck-worshippers or anything else. I just firmly believe that Obama has done countless things that are truly terrible. Terrible – not just things I disagree with, but terrible. Things that I have no problem with calling crimes. Therefore I believe that I could never vote for him.

Simple as that.

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Yeah, I voted for Gore, not Nader. Gore won the state I live in. So will Obama. None of that changes the fact that I’m not going to compromise my own ethical beliefs. But this is now a completely moot point, because I voted for Jill Stein over an hour ago.

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DistantFred said on November 6th, 2012 at 8:57 am

Heksefatter, voting Third Party might make you feel better about your values, but the Ralph Nader, Ross Perot, Lyndon Larouche, George Wallace and third Theodore Roosevelt Presidencies were all complete disasters, and you know it. And the sectarianization of American politics, and the loss of undisputed US hegemony, have left US polictics less apt to liberalize, regardless of what happens.

The Tea Party turned the “dead” Republican party of George Bush into the obstructionist nightmare they are now, and they didn’t do it by voting for John McCain.

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Heksefatter said on November 6th, 2012 at 9:32 am

Actually, Fred, Ross Perot did do quite well, until he quit and re-entered the race.

The Tea Party is another matter than refusing to vote for Obama, because he is a criminal and part of the problem. The Tea Party is actually a pretty well-organized pawn of shady economic interests, the Koch-brothers being the most well-known. The bastards are exploiting what – putting it nicely – amounts to a nativist tradition in US politics as well as middle class rage. Ultimately, the Tea Party are a bunch of cowards. They claim to be opponents of “big government” while they’re actually supporting something close to fascism.

I don’t want to be a left-wing mirror image of the Tea Party, betraying everything I believe in by backing a man like Obama. That is what happened to the majority of US liberals, when they began supporting Obama not just as the lesser evil, but accepting his authoritarian policies. The Republicans might be near-fascist, but what is Obama? He’s the same, but better at selling it. Both internationally and domestically, something that I have not seen those accepting Obama despite his civil rights record consider.

And I am truly not laying thick on when I say fascist. What is the world coming to with drone bombings, domestic surveillance drones, torture, indefinite detainment, prosecution of whistleblowers like never before, militarism, rampant spying on the citizens and foreigners. This is an authoritarian society that is approaching and the sooner we realize this, the better. Like I said, when I organize a political letter writing campaign, I notice that people are starting to get nervous.

If there is hope, it lies in going around the scumbags running for president in the mainstream parties and fighting for civil liberties in other fora. If that is impossible, I can’t see how there can be hope.

I grant that this does not show that I am right in saying that I would vote Green. I fully admit that I am not certain of the best course. Such are the dark times.

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@Heksefatter: So the eight years of the Bush administration just dropped down the memory hole for you, then? Because you’re talking as though the surveillance state was an Obama creation, when in fact it was a pure product of the Republican party.

At the time Bush implemented it, people even said, “Look, this is a bad idea because you won’t be President forever, and it is nothing but sheer delusional optimism to think that any future office-holder will give up these powerful tools to enact their personal agenda.” (The response was more or less, “Nonsense, Republicans are going to win ALL the elections forever now, because 9/11.”)

The authoritarian genie is out of the bottle. Obama isn’t going to put it back, and neither is Romney, and frankly neither is Jill Stein or Ron Paul or whatever idealist is running on the third-party fringe because power destroys idealism faster than idealism destroys power. Whoever becomes President is inheriting the tools of a surveillance state, so it behooves us more than ever to vote for a President who will use them wisely. And to keep them out of the fucking hands of Mitt Romney.

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Heksefatter said on November 6th, 2012 at 9:45 am

@John Seavey

That is not the point. I could live with Obama not expanding the surveillance state. But in fact, he’s severely increasing it.

- Increased spying on citizens? Check.

- Increased pursuit of whistleblowers? Check.

- Increased public surveillance w/ drones? Check.

- Increased frequency of government assassinations? Check.

- Maintaining secret prisons and torture? Check.

I absolutely reject the argument that we need to keep those powers out of Romney’s hands, because apparently, Obama is abusing them as much as anyone.

I refuse to consider that man anything but a criminal and a complete disaster. And I don’t get why otherwise sensible people cannot admit to that fact.

And I will repeat this point: Is it not outright horrifying that Obama has been so good at selling the authoritarian policies? Is it not terrible that he did something which Bush could not – make liberal voters accept the police state? Let me share this story – right here, in Denmark, the authoritarian scumbags are gloating – “look, Obama campaigned against Guantanamo, surveillance and for the right to stand trial, but he abandoned it after getting power himself. Now it is clear that the policies are reasonable.” Might it not be better with a less slick salesman of authoritarianism? And is it not our duty to oppose this authoritarianism categorically?

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My reasons for not voting for Barack Obama are simple: he squandered the MONUMENTAL good will he had post-election on the health care battle, to the relative exclusion of other issues (like, say, a 10% unemployment rate – and no, I don’t particularly care what he did/didn’t inherit – you take the job, it’s on you).

Dude swung for the fences in order to cement his legacy, and only tackled job creation in earnest once the mid-term elections hit and he seemed to say “Huh, looks like people are worrying less about healthcare and more about feeding their families.”

Not a fan of President Obama, and will not be voting for him as a result.

That said, I’m not a fan of Romney either, and will not be voting for him. He’s the Smiler from “Transmetropolitan” given life (well, actually John Edwards was, but he’s pretty much a non-entity at this point). Moreover, he represents and caters to the absolute shitshow that the Republican party has become.

Me? I won’t be badgered, cajoled, shamed, or insulted into voting any way other than that which I decide. My vote, my decision.

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Man, I feel like I’ve been teleported into one of Balloon Juice’s periodic ‘Manic Progressives’ threads. Obama is worse than Bush, HE SOLD US OUT!!!!!!!

Matt, perhaps you’ve heard of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, passed on February 13, 2009, less than a month into Obama’s first term. The act specifically designed to increase growth, keep businesses open, and create job growth? No, we can argue that it worked or didn’t, or if it was successful it its goals or was not, but the ARRA functioned from 2009-late 2011 (some of the grants are still going), but it’s neither correct nor fair to say that the President didn’t address job creation until after the 2010 mid-term elections.

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“Matt, perhaps you’ve heard of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, passed on February 13, 2009, less than a month into Obama’s first term. The act specifically designed to increase growth, keep businesses open, and create job growth? No, we can argue that it worked or didn’t, or if it was successful it its goals or was not, but the ARRA functioned from 2009-late 2011 (some of the grants are still going), but it’s neither correct nor fair to say that the President didn’t address job creation until after the 2010 mid-term elections.”

I didn’t say he didn’t address it, I said that he focused more intently on a bloated health care bill that the country largely (at the time) didn’t want and had them shaking their heads going “Wait…is this seriously the most important issue that we have to deal with right now?”

I didn’t vote for Obama the first time around because, well, he didn’t show me a whole hell of a lot other than the fact that he paid attention in public speaking class (didn’t vote for McCain either, incidentally – dude sold out his own integrity to take a weak stab at the head chair), but I was willing to see what he’d do. What I saw was a disproportionate amount of time, energy, and money spent on fighting for, again, a legacy piece while the economy was still floundering, unemployment was fluctuating, and people were losing their homes to foreclosures left and right.

I get that the President has a number of irons in the fire at any one time, but…sorry, health care reform should not have been his largest priority at that time (or at this time, really).

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Having read through both of these comment threads, it’s interesting to me that the people — like Heksefatter and Farwell3d — who are so passionately against Obama at this point can’t muster any comments regarding the civil liberty successes that he has enacted or that his win represents, and that a Romney win absolutely destroys.

I’m not saying, to be clear, that the causes that they consider the most important to their support of Obama don’t matter. I’d also appreciate it if Heksefatter wouldn’t make broad assumptions about what “liberals” in the U.S. “accept” and why. (I don’t “accept” a damned thing about the problems listed, but they are not products of Obama’s fiat alone, and if you think they are, and that they are easily fixed, I have a bridge to sell you.)

It’s just… interesting that those particular issues are far more important to them than civil liberties for homosexuals, for women, or healthcare, or the social safety net. It almost makes one think that the people involved are privileged enough that those civil liberty issues don’t affect them personally… so they don’t have to care about how disastrous a Romney win (with not only a Romney/Ryan administration, but the consequent emboldening of the right wing) would be to those issues, which affect an awful lot of people.

But hey, if you can go up to a married gay person and tell them that NDAA trumps their right to visit their spouse if they are hospitalized, and if you can go up to a woman who’s been raped and tell her that NDAA trumps her right to make her own decision about her body — sure, go ahead.

This is what the fellow meant far above about “conscience over consequences”. And Heksefatter — you’re entitled to your opinion about how terrible, disastrous, and criminal Obama has been, sitting over there in Denmark, but, you don’t have to live here.

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The Unstoppable Gravy Express said on November 6th, 2012 at 10:32 am

And to keep them out of the fucking hands of Mitt Romney.

The fucking hands are the ones he uses to open the women binder.

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“But hey, if you can go up to a married gay person and tell them that NDAA trumps their right to visit their spouse if they are hospitalized, and if you can go up to a woman who’s been raped and tell her that NDAA trumps her right to make her own decision about her body — sure, go ahead.”

I’m of the mind that the “they’ll overturn Roe vs. Wade!” thing is a bit of a reactionary fear.

Well, maybe that’s not the best way to put it.

Question: What do you think would happen were the neocon overlords to overturn Roe vs. Wade?

Me? I’d expect full-scale marches, protests, riots in the streets, etc. I just don’t see people laying down for that, and I don’t see any president standing up to the huge backlash that such a move would cause.

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@Heksefatter: How to put this…I guaran-fucking-tee you, if Mitt Romney gets elected, he will treat your claim that Obama is “abusing it as much as anyone” like a cruel joke. He will abuse it in ways Obama never even thought of, because if there is one thing we have learned about Mitt, it is that he will never follow a rule he can get away with breaking, and he will never comply with a rule more than he is technically required. Putting a man like that in charge of the apparatus of authority will result in that apparatus being abused to its maximum extent, and whatever else you might say about Obama, he is clearly not abusing it to its maximum extent. That makes him the better of the two options, simply because (as I stated in my original post) you CAN NOT do worse than Romney. Anything that prevents his election is a good thing by default, if nothing else.

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Matt — healthcare was, and still is, a major ECONOMIC issue. Addressing it WAS and IS important to addressing the overall successful recovery of the economy and jobs. It’s massive, and complicated, and it needed to be done 15 years before it actually was… which was why it was vital for Obama to get started on it as soon as possible, particularly before the midterm elections.

It’s also inaccurate to pretend that the midterm elections “meant” that people cared more about jobs than about healthcare reform in some perfect vacuum where the two issues were weighed equally. Public sentiment regarding healthcare was severely compromised by Republican politicians and mouthpieces who made it their publicly-stated goal to sabotage whatever Obama tried to do, and who outright lied to the electorate regarding what healthcare reform entailed (i.e. remember “death panels”?). At the same time, the reform didn’t go far enough for other people, and did not, of course, kick in immediately. Perhaps you missed the stories about how negative polling over “Obamacare” tended to reverse when pollsters asked people about specific provisions of the act — meaning, they liked what the reform actually did, but they had bought the Republican-sold line that overall, the idea was “evil” (see: “Keep the Government’s Hands Off My Medicare!”).

And it still sounds disingenuous of you to say that he focused on healthcare “to the relative exclusion” of focusing on jobs, when he got the ARRA pushed through as just about the FIRST thing he did. That is hardly “to the relative exclusion”, if it’s the first damned thing he tried to do.

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To “Voting is not a purity contest,” I would add “Voting is not about you.”

And I’d throw in a quote from Josh Lyman: “Do you not consider it relevant that it would be worse with Rob Ritchie in the White House?” Only, y’know, put in Mitt Romney where appropriate.

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“It’s massive, and complicated, and it needed to be done 15 years before it actually was… which was why it was vital for Obama to get started on it as soon as possible, particularly before the midterm elections.”

I disagree. I am not of the mind that health care reform was the single biggest issue facing our country at the time, and I am not of the mind that Obama should have spent the time, energy, good will, and money on it that he did.

“It’s also inaccurate to pretend that the midterm elections ‘meant’ that people cared more about jobs than about healthcare reform in some perfect vacuum where the two issues were weighed equally.”

I’d say that the health care issue relative to the economy was more important than you seem to want to recognize. But, hey, whatever.

“Public sentiment regarding healthcare was severely compromised by Republican politicians and mouthpieces who made it their publicly-stated goal to sabotage whatever Obama tried to do, and who outright lied to the electorate regarding what healthcare reform entailed (i.e. remember “death panels”?).”

I’m not giving the Republicans a pass. However, it is much easier to lie/distort the truth when the administration in power won’t provide the truth.

“Perhaps you missed the stories about how negative polling over “Obamacare” tended to reverse when pollsters asked people about specific provisions of the act — meaning, they liked what the reform actually did, but they had bought the Republican-sold line that overall, the idea was “evil” (see: “Keep the Government’s Hands Off My Medicare!”).”

Well it would have been nice if, y’know, the folks passing the legislation actually explained the damn thing as opposed to saying “But we have to pass the [health care] bill so that you can find out what’s in it.”

“And it still sounds disingenuous of you to say that he focused on healthcare ‘to the relative exclusion’ of focusing on jobs, when he got the ARRA pushed through as just about the FIRST thing he did. That is hardly ‘to the relative exclusion’, if it’s the first damned thing he tried to do.”

Look, we’ll make this simple: I’m not voting for Obama because, IMO, he focused on the wrong thing at the wrong time. I’m not changing my mind on that score, and I don’t think that anything I say will change yours.

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Matt, re. Roe vs. Wade:

1. Going by your name, I’m guessing it doesn’t personally affect you, so don’t patronizingly tell me that fears about its being overturned are silly and reactionary.

2. What do I think would happen? I have no faith in the left’s ability to protest any longer, nor in any protests the left does make to have any effect on Republicans in power, so what I think would happen is — nothing would happen. I DO see people laying down for that.

Look at you — you don’t even think it’s something to be afraid of! If you aren’t afraid, you aren’t motivated to actually get out in the streets and riot. I do believe that we’ve become a nation of people who are just scared enough that we keep our heads down and try to pretend that the bad things won’t happen to us. Part of that pretense demands ignoring the other people to whom the bad things ARE happening — which is how you can arrive at the conclusion that healthcare reform wasn’t really important enough for Obama to have focused on early in his first term.

I’m not immune from the “keep the head down” thing, either. I think if RvW was overturned, I would get out in the streets. But I don’t have the faith necessary in my fellow citizens, or the government I’d have at that point, that it would matter.

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“I would add ‘Voting is not about you.’”

I cannot get behind this sentiment at all. To insist that “voting isn’t about you” is to strip any sort of choice or autonomy from the process, and to essentially say “You pick team Red or team Blue and you STICK to it, damn it!”

Christ, I know the process has been obliterated by cynicism and voter disconnect, but…there HAS to be a place for individual, personal choice somewhere in there.

If I read your statement wrong, or read too much into it, my bad.

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@HollyH

“It’s just… interesting that those particular issues are far more important to them than civil liberties for homosexuals, for women, or healthcare, or the social safety net. It almost makes one think that the people involved are privileged enough that those civil liberty issues don’t affect them personally… so they don’t have to care about how disastrous a Romney win (with not only a Romney/Ryan administration, but the consequent emboldening of the right wing) would be to those issues, which affect an awful lot of people.”

This all the way.

I’m sorry but when you guys are talking about guilty consciences all I’m starting to hear is “I’m moving to Narnia and there is NOTHING you can do to stop me!”

Go ahead, but know that in America there is only going to be two viable candidates from two political parties for decades to come, and that elections won’t be decided on swaying the opinions of independents, but rather who gets the biggest voter turnout.

Remember that whenever you want to come back to reality and make the difficult decisions.

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mygif

I’m not changing my mind on that score, and I don’t think that anything I say will change yours.

No, I agree, I don’t think either of us will change the other’s mind. We’re merely in the “wanting our positions articulated” stage of things. I’m not trying to change your mind, just trying to challenge what you’re saying with another point of view.

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“Going by your name, I’m guessing it doesn’t personally affect you, so don’t patronizingly tell me that fears about its being overturned are silly and reactionary.”

No, it doesn’t, which is why I’m for maintaining it. So, y’know, let’s back up on the aggression for a bit, okay?

“What do I think would happen? I have no faith in the left’s ability to protest any longer, nor in any protests the left does make to have any effect on Republicans in power, so what I think would happen is — nothing would happen. I DO see people laying down for that.”

Here’s a thought: if people would willingly lay down for that, and wouldn’t raise a hand against it, maybe they DESERVE shit like this?

I can tell you one thing, my “name” notwithstanding, I’d be out there protesting the overturn of Roe vs. Wade. For MANY reasons, not the least of which being that it would represent another slide toward a de facto theocracy, and ain’t no WAY I’m standing by and letting that happen.

“If you aren’t afraid, you aren’t motivated to actually get out in the streets and riot.”

Incorrect. I just have a bit more faith in US citizens than you do. Now, this faith might very well be unfounded. However, I’d like to think that, given the (idealized or actual) history of our country, we’d say “Uh, no. No way in hell.”

“Part of that pretense demands ignoring the other people to whom the bad things ARE happening — which is how you can arrive at the conclusion that healthcare reform wasn’t really important enough for Obama to have focused on early in his first term.”

Please don’t ascribe motivations to me.

I get what you are saying, but my opposition to health care reform as a key priority is purely practical: if you have people out of work, the economy is stagnant, and people cannot keep their homes for want of employment, then THOSE are the issues you throw the lion’s share of your energy/time/money at.

“I’m not immune from the ‘keep the head down’ thing, either. I think if RvW was overturned, I would get out in the streets. But I don’t have the faith necessary in my fellow citizens, or the government I’d have at that point, that it would matter.”

If the American people are A-OK with laying down their freedoms without a fight, then they don’t deserve those freedoms.

I’d like to think that we, as Americans, have a breaking point in that regard, though. I’d like to think that there’s a threshold somewhere in our national consciousness.

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mygif

“No, I agree, I don’t think either of us will change the other’s mind. We’re merely in the “wanting our positions articulated” stage of things. I’m not trying to change your mind, just trying to challenge what you’re saying with another point of view.”

I get you. Thanks for the back-and-forth.

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“Go ahead, but know that in America there is only going to be two viable candidates from two political parties for decades to come, and that elections won’t be decided on swaying the opinions of independents, but rather who gets the biggest voter turnout.”

Yep. And it sucks. A lot.

Honestly, I’m hoping the Republicans lose badly, the party fractures, and we get a third party of fiscal conservatives with some common fucking sense (e.g. realize that fighting against social issues is fucking stupid, and does nothing to aid the country).

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mygif

Matt — you’re right, I apologize for sliding too easily between specifically addressing you, and what I genuinely meant to be the general “you” several times.

However, no — I won’t back off on the aggression regarding the fact that the issue of abortion will always be more academic to you than it will be to me, and that therefore you seem to be discounting its urgency more. Don’t use the “tone argument” on me — instead, recognize the fact that some of these issues are indeed more immediate and emotional to some people than to others, and for particular reasons. It’s nice that you say you’d protest in the streets over it, but the fact remains that you won’t vote in a way that could have an impact on the issue, because you don’t think there’s a sufficient threat.

I’d also like to think that there’s a threshold somewhere in our national consciousness, don’t get me wrong — I just don’t believe that abortion rights are that threshold, any longer (if they ever were). If we aren’t up in arms and out in the streets over what’s already being done to erode those liberties (like tolerance for an opposition that condones the assassination of doctors who perform legal abortions), then I think a SCOTUS decision is going to go past with a whimper, not an eruption. We can’t even have a discussion about abortion rights that rests on an agreement that a woman should have control over decisions regarding her own body in all circumstances; instead (these days) we have to resort to arguments that rest on more extreme situations that we once thought “everybody” could agree on (rape, incest).

I also don’t really agree with the position that if people “won’t” fight for their liberties, they don’t “deserve” them. Civil liberties are always deserved. Sometimes they have to be fought for. But they are deserved, whether someone is able to fight for them or not.

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Matt, I’m not trying to change your mind, I’m trying to correct the record. An $800 billion bill that was more than 500 pages of funding and incentive programs passed three weeks into his administration IS focusing on the economy and job creation. That the ARRA was overshadowed by Health Care reform (which was what Obama campaigned on, and what you could say he had a mandate for) does not discount that his entire administration was completely focued on implementation of the ARRA for the first 6 months of his administration. I know because I was in the middle of it.

And we’re going to have the Republican Party for at least another generation, until demographic shifts turn Texas blue and the Republicans become a regional party (assuming no Electoral College reform). So get used to it.

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mygif

“Don’t use the ‘tone argument’ on me — instead, recognize the fact that some of these issues are indeed more immediate and emotional to some people than to others, and for particular reasons.”

ASIDE: I’ve seen the anti-”tone argument” sentiment thrown around here, and I’m sorry, I don’t think that being impassioned about something gives ANYONE carte blanche to speak about it in whatever fashion they choose.

Or, rather, they can, but they shouldn’t be surprised when someone says “Uh, I thought we were talking about this…you know, civilly?”

That isn’t directed at you, BTW.

“It’s nice that you say you’d protest in the streets over it, but the fact remains that you won’t vote in a way that could have an impact on the issue, because you don’t think there’s a sufficient threat.”

Uh, yes. Yes, I will. Part of the reason I’m not voting Romney.

I’m not “fired up” over social issues, I’d just rather they weren’t issues. Two consenting adults? Cool, let them get married. Woman wants to have an abortion? If the kid isn’t mine, I have no say, and don’t care what choice a woman makes regarding it. That time and money is wasted by “social conservatives” to fight these movements is, to me, counter-intuitive to growth.

“I also don’t really agree with the position that if people ‘won’t’ fight for their liberties, they don’t ‘deserve’ them. Civil liberties are always deserved. Sometimes they have to be fought for. But they are deserved, whether someone is able to fight for them or not.”

So they’re “deserved,” but don’t need to be fought for? Sorry, no.

And I’m not talking invalids, or the impoverished. I’m talking about the folks who are fully able to fight for what they ostensibly stand for and decide to say “Meh, fuck it.”

If you’re of that stripe, and would willingly give up freedoms at the first sign of a threat, then I have absolutely ZERO sympathy for you.

But, as for being “deserved,” walk into your boss’s off ice and proclaim that you deserve a raise. The declaration isn’t enough, or at least it doesn’t functionally matter if you aren’t willing to get up and fight for what you “deserve.”

And “fighting” doesn’t necessarily mean open warfare in the streets. It DOES mean letters to elected officials, donations to relevant organizations, campaigning, protesting, voting, etc.

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mygif

“That the ARRA was overshadowed by Health Care reform (which was what Obama campaigned on, and what you could say he had a mandate for) does not discount that his entire administration was completely focued on implementation of the ARRA for the first 6 months of his administration. I know because I was in the middle of it. ”

Right. Six months out of four years.

Again, I’m not saying that he didn’t do anything. I’m saying that the bulk of his first-term energies went into fighting for/passing health care. He seems to have shifted back to a focus on “job creation” and the economy once that wrangling was over, and certainly after the mid-term elections.

“So get used to it.”

No. I’ll always hope and fight for an alternative to the “big two.” Because we NEED one, IMO.

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@HollyH
“Civil liberties are always deserved. Sometimes they have to be fought for. But they are deserved, whether someone is able to fight for them or not.”

I think I read somewhere about how people have “Certain inalienable rights.” =)

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“I think I read somewhere about how people have ‘Certain inalienable rights.’ =)”

Who provides said rights when the ruling body indicates that they’re not interested in maintaining them?

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@Matt
“Who provides said rights when the ruling body indicates that they’re not interested in maintaining them?”

Uh no one?

I’ll admit that this could totally be an incorrect interpretation of that statement, but I always thought that it meant there were certain rights you have just for being a living human. As in you don’t have to do anything to earn or “deserve” them, and they aren’t given. You just have them for showing up to the party.

The raise example, for instance, is not an inalienable right, because you are not endowed by your creator to get raises whenever you want.

The whole rising up in protest comes in when those rights are threatened or not being given, but it doesn’t suddenly change what is or is not a fundamental right when there are people who don’t protest.

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I’m sorry for the double post but I done goofed. I didn’t mean to write “not being given,” on the second line in the last sentence. Just change that to “not being protected,”.

thx

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“I would rather vote for what I want and lose, then vote for what I do not want and win.”

–Eugene Debs

I don’t agree with the man on everything, but when he talks sense, he talks sense.

If y’all want to be pragmatic, go ahead. I don’t believe “idealist” is an insult.

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Heksefatter said on November 6th, 2012 at 12:33 pm

@HollyH and John Seavey

First, Holly, I have documented my statements about Obama crippled liberal opposition to authoritarianism. Earlier, I referred to an article by constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald, which included polls showing that solid majorities of US liberals have accepted the most outrageous human rights abuses of the Bush era, which are now defended by Obama. The article is called ‘Repulsive Progressive Hypocrisy’ and is posted on Salon.

Needless to say, this is not a universal statement, as in “all liberals now accept the Bush-policies.” It *IS* however, a statement – backed up by polls – that Obama has sucesfully crippled opposition to authoritarianism, now that the greater part of only section of popular opinion that could concievably be mobilized against authoritarianism in an effective way has been won over.

And John, you’re still not addressing my points. How is Obama’s succes in crippling opposition to authoritarianism not horrifiyng? Is the man not a murdering, torturing, militaristic authoritarian? Yes, it is likely that Romney will make things worse. But Obama has also introduced things that were not even concieved of in the Bush-era. Universal domestic surveillance by armed drones spring to mind. (Google it with the ACLU for confirmation). Obama, if re-elected, will also continue the authoritarian course, and shred even more civil rights. Needless to say, Romney has no shame nor scruples, but I doubt that Obama has any of either, and he is clearly the better salesman.

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Heksefatter said on November 6th, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Also, regarding things such as the repeal of Don’t ask, don’t tell, this is fine. I am glad it has happened. It is just not enough to compensate for the shredding of the right to stand trial, the targetted assassinations, the torture, the terrorism and the militarism.

For me, the main thing that makes me unsure is that I recognize that Romney is an even worse criminal. If I was to vote for Obama, it would be a vote *against* Romney and that alone.

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@Hek: Why don’t you answer, clearly and once and for all, if you would rather have this abstract notion of ‘liberal opposition to authoritarianism’ rather than the real, concrete progress on civil rights for gays, women and minorities in America or the real concrete progress in human rights for the poor, hungry and under educated in America.

Please answer in a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’ Feel free to show your work. I just want you on the record on this. (For the record, I’m in the ‘No’ column here.)

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Hypo-Calvinist said on November 6th, 2012 at 12:52 pm

If everyone responding to this post were voting based on their beliefs instead of what you call pragmatism, and the the left in this country actually supported their ideals rather than the Party that lies out of the left side of its mouth, the political landscape would be very different. Judging from the responses, we seem to be fairly left-leaning. If we held the party which purports to represent us accountable, they would pursue our policies rather than the Reagan-lite agenda we have now. Your “grown-up, pragmatic” attitude is what got us here. It seems like 90% of you agree with the argument put forward by MGK and in John’s original post. So if you are all going to vote for Obama no matter what, why the fuck should he care what you think? Reading some of these posts made me so angry, I think the Darth Romney proposition is defeatist bullshit. That said, I wish we could do this without calling each other children and claiming that if you don’t agree it’s because other people’s civil rights don’t matter to you.

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@Heksefatter: And that would be all I would be asking for. A vote against Romney. The point I have been making, the point I continue to make, and the point I will continue to make indefinitely, is that the idea that Obama is somehow worse than his Republican predecessor or potential Republican successor rests on the idea that we are holding him to a higher standard, which he is not meeting, and that somehow it is worse to elect someone who will do better things but not as good as we hoped for than it would be to elect someone who will do much, much, MUCH worse things and we all know it.

This is, to use a nerdy analogy, like saying, “Well, Frodo refused to throw the ring into Mount Doom. Clearly, he’s a horrible person and doesn’t deserve the ring. Hey, let’s give it back to Sauron! After all, everyone knows he’s evil, so they’ll all give him the kind of principled opposition that ringbearers deserve! At least with Sauron, we all know where we stand.”

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Heksefatter said on November 6th, 2012 at 1:06 pm

@John

I am sorry, but I can’t give you the yes or no you want. Basically, I cannot accept the premises you put into the question.

The problem is that while I agree that Obama has improved the situation for gays specifically, I do not think that there has been concrete improvement, overall, in human rights for the poor, hungry and under educated in America.

The improvement that there has been in specific areas, is not balanced by the increase in police state methods.

Furthermore, I will claim that the second premise that ‘liberal opposition to authoritarianism’ is an abstract notion in the implied sense that it is airy and “unreal.” The simple fact is that Obama has persuaded the majority of liberals to accept surveillance, indefinite detainment, drone bombing and so forth. This is extremely real and extremely terrible, because that means that now we have little or no chance of curbing these abuses.

If you can rephrase the question, perhaps I would be able to give you the simple yes or no that you want.

I turn, I would like to ask a few questions that I would all answer in the affirmative:

- Do you agree that Obama organizes terrorism?

- Do you agree that Obama is guilty of murder?

- Do you believe that Obama has strengthened the surveillance state?

- Do you agree that Obama has tortured foreign nationals?

- Do you agree that Obama has tortured US nationals?

- Do you agree that Obama has sold the above actions excellently? (Question falls if you answer no to most of them).

I would answer yes to the above and that is why I consider him a criminal that I would find it very difficult to vote for, even though some of the things that he has done are positive.

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mygif

Does Obama get any credit for Cash for Clunkers?

Now, granted, the program wasn’t handled as well as it could have been (some people got their cars retired as clunkers and then weren’t able to get new ones, and things like that). But still… It was a program very early in his first year as president that stimulated the economy a little, helped the car industry and got a lot of people into new cars they otherwise couldn’t have afforded.

Of course, everybody was supposed to buy American and a lot of people took advantage of good deals on Toyotas instead. However, they were still buying cars and putting money back into the economy.

I live in eastern Washington state. Car dealers just over the border in Idaho sold a lot of cars because of the incredible deals they were offering and people from my neck of the woods took advantage of them because they could pay less sales tax and things like that and save even more money. So, I know that Cash for Clunkers had positive effects for people in at least two states.

Obviously, it didn’t directly create jobs, but it may have helped keep some people employed longer, and that’s a good thing, right?

Another cool little thing Obama did early on helped the city bus company in my town get federal grants in exchange for adding some hybrid buses to their fleet. That was a pretty creative way to stimulate the economy a little. Somebody had to paint and customize the buses, somebody got money for making and selling the bus and the giant battery on the roof. And so on.

The local guys could save a little money in the short term by using less diesel fuel (the hybrids use 30 percent less gas), and those grants may have helped save some jobs because they were threatening to lay off some drivers and something (I can’t say for certain) kept them from having to go through with it.

Also, Obama tried everything he could to get states to give people more unemployment benefits. The reaction to this was really mixed at the state level and Fox News had a field day with it, but still… Some people got their benefits extended, which meant they could still buy stuff and pay bills. Obviously, that wasn’t as good as getting a job, but it was better than a kick in the head.

TL:DR version: I was really glad I voted for Obama for about a year or so, because it seemed like he was trying a lot of creative stuff to get people okay financially again in his early days as president.

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Heksefatter said on November 6th, 2012 at 1:17 pm

@John

Reg your second post. As I said, I am not fully certain that I would vote for Obama in a swing state. I *am* fully certain that I would vote Jill Stein in a certain Obama or Romney state.

For me, it would not be an easy decision. On the one hand, I recognize that I might help Romney and the Republicans. On the other hand, and here I think is what really makes us disagree that I believe that Obama is so loathesome that I feel that he’s part of the main problem.

I see two deeply corrupt parties. Needless to say, not all Democratic and Republican politicians are corrupt, but the core of both parties is deeply rotten. I believe that they must both be opposed.

The only thing that I am unsure of is what the best way to oppose the rot is. I honest-to-Cthulhu don’t know what the best or least bad choice is. I know all the arguments for and against voting for Obama. To me, there are strong arguments for both. (None for voting for Romney, except if you hate Big Bird).

And what I feel is a serious problem is that a lot of Obama-is-the-lesser-evil-crowd, which I fully respect, don’t recognize that the lesser evil is STILL an evil. That a lot of the stuff that Obama has done is not just dirty compromises in a difficult situation, but outright crimes. Terrorism. Torture. Warmongering. Indefinite detention. The expansion of the police state.

And maybe I am wrong, but I don’t feel that is recognized. To me Obama is horrifying. Not his supporters, of course, but I don’t think you’re necessarily a bad person if you support Romney either. (Gingrich would be another matter…) But Obama…he is part of the problem.

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mygif

“The whole rising up in protest comes in when those rights are threatened or not being given, but it doesn’t suddenly change what is or is not a fundamental right when there are people who don’t protest.”

See, this is my issue: when people stop fighting for/protecting their rights, and especially if they lose them, they HAVE no “fundamental rights” in any way that matters.

What changes what is or isn’t a fundamental right is the foundation on which that right rests. If the foundation is solid, and conducive to guaranteeing that right, then the right is fundamental.

Now, say that we’re taken over by some supreme military force. Hell, let’s go with China. China attacks, overpowers our army, and assumes control over the US government.

As a result of this, I find that my freedom of speech is now pretty much non-existent.

ME: I have a fundamental right to free speech!

CHINESE SOLDIER/COP: Uh…too bad?

While under such a regime, my “fundamental rights” effectively cease to exist. As such, me screaming about how I have fundamental human rights, in the face of a government/regime fully capable and willing to eliminate those rights, I’m whistling in the dark.

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mygif

“We’ll always have two parties.”

“Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.”

Democratic-Republicans, Whigs, Bull Moose, Socialists in Oklahoma, National Republican, Know Nothing Party, Anti-Masonic Party (that boasted Millard Fillmore and John Quincy Adams as affiliates). American history has a number of other parties that once had extended influence and carried local elections.

Voting for a third party or withdrawing consent from either party is a gradual way to affect change. Bit by bit, the parties see an eroded base. Third parties also tend to influence the two main parties, as the latter tend to adjust their platforms over time to appeal to the former.

So, for those who can stomach it, gradualism is an option.

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mygif

“Voting for a third party or withdrawing consent from either party is a gradual way to affect change. Bit by bit, the parties see an eroded base. Third parties also tend to influence the two main parties, as the latter tend to adjust their platforms over time to appeal to the former.”

This is what I’m hoping for in the Republican party. Complete collapse and rebirth. It seems that there are a few folks in the ranks that can see that…well…pissing off the country with bullshit social issues isn’t really working.

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@C. Carter: I can totally see where you are coming from there, I just think that we should do that stuff when it is not a close Presidential election where the results could have potentially disastrous consequences.

@Matt: It’s ironic that in your China takeover example you are still exercising your right to free speech by yelling at the guy. You probably wont live very long, but you still have the ability to speak freely even though China is in charge. Likewise a person who just lies there and takes it is simply choosing not to exercise their right to speak freely, they haven’t had it “taken away.”

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” It’s ironic that in your China takeover example you are still exercising your right to free speech by yelling at the guy. You probably wont live very long, but you still have the ability to speak freely even though China is in charge. Likewise a person who just lies there and takes it is simply choosing not to exercise their right to speak freely, they haven’t had it ‘taken away.’”

We’re going to have to agree to disagree. I just can’t get behind the notion that something is simply because we say it is.

Freedom isn’t a given. Rights aren’t a given. Certainly not in perpetuity. They’re CONSTANTLY tested, and must be defended.

Now could “speaking freely” in the face of an oppressor be construed as protest? Yes. That is something I’d get behind. That IS fighting for your perceived rights.

The folks who would just go along to get along, and who would take oppression lying down? Yeah, they don’t functionally HAVE rights, because they’re not exercising them or championing them. They’re fooling themselves with delusions of autonomy.

To take rights for granted is to squander them, IMO.

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@Heksefatter: “The simple fact is that Obama has persuaded the majority of liberals to accept surveillance, indefinite detainment, drone bombing and so forth. This is extremely real and extremely terrible, because that means that now we have little or no chance of curbing these abuses.”

For your premise to take root, though, you would have to argue that in some sense this would be different had McCain won the election. Are you honestly of the belief that McCain would not have pushed through every single one of the changes you abhor under Obama? Can you point to some evidence that he would have listened more to this ‘principled liberal opposition’ than Bush did during the previous eight years? Again, your argument seems to rest on the idea that a Republican president doing worse things than Obama is doing now would somehow galvanize such effective and determined opposition that the practices would stop. This is not supported by reality or history. I see no reason to stake the very real gains that we have made on your imaginary supposition that somehow electing someone likely to do the exact same things you abhor and worse, with a history of ignoring people who disagree with him, will result in less of the things you abhor happening. Your plan is roughly akin to trying to stop child molestation in the priesthood by electing Cthulhu as the next pope. :)

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Those that vote third party for president need to readup on how many people voted for Perot in each election, and how many electoral votes each time.

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The Democratic-Republicans and the Whigs *were* the two parties of their time. (The D-Rs eventually molted and became the Democrats; the Whigs self-destructed and were replaced by the Republicans.)

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Also, what I meant by “Voting isn’t about you” is that it’s not about your ego or your self-directed heroic narrative. Americans love grand, sweeping individualist gestures, because that’s part of our myth, but that’s not what voting is about. Voting is about deciding the future of the whole country (federal voting, anyway). It’s about you, your neighbor, that guy on the street you see every other Thursday, and about 300 million other people. Self-aggrandizement doesn’t really seem so noble when measured against that.

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“Also, what I meant by ‘Voting isn’t about you’ is that it’s not about your ego or your self-directed heroic narrative.”

No, it is about the individual right to make a choice based on one’s individual perspective. Obviously said perspective will take the grander scheme of things into account, but the choice will (ideally) always be made on an individual basis.

“Voting is about deciding the future of the whole country (federal voting, anyway). It’s about you, your neighbor, that guy on the street you see every other Thursday, and about 300 million other people.”

And? What if your personal conviction is that the current president/party/system isn’t working for you, your neighbor, that guy on the street you see every other Thursday, and about 300 million other people? Ought you poll the neighborhood in search of consensus before voting?

“Self-aggrandizement doesn’t really seem so noble when measured against that.”

So what’s your point? That an individual shouldn’t vote according to their own perspective, research, and/or desires? Or that it is somehow ignoble to exercise one’s freedom of choice in order to…well…choose?

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ChessPieceFace said on November 6th, 2012 at 3:52 pm

In the back & forth I’m reading in the comments, my opinion is that the core of the issue was touched on somewhat by KenB3:

2) If you don’t like the candidates the major parties offer, the time to address that is not the general presidential election. It’s the local and state races, the early primaries, and the whole process before now.

It’s the American readers of MGK who are in the blessed/cursed position of political sausage making, whereas for non-American readers like myself we really only see the final ingredient or two being added, and would love the opportunity to influence the result if we could.

Reform is of course needed, and third parties are a legitimate method… that is so long as you

a) accept that the party across the aisle you hate will govern for many election cycles while the in-fighting on your side lasts, or
b) have sufficiently overwhelming funds available to your third party in order to complete the hostile takeover of your side in one fell swoop. (don’t think for a second that either the Democrats or Republicans would just roll over to any challenge from its far wing to replace them)

Alternatively, you can work within one of the two parties to change it. This also requires investing time and/or money, and having too little of either results in the dilution of your reform. Insisting on changing the presidential candidate for 2016? Okay, but unless your moneybags are chock full then you really can only hope for just one of your dealbreaking issues to be picked up by a frontrunning candidate. You can work within the party, holding your nose all the while as you change one or two of your local representatives each cycle and build your wave of change up to a genuine presidential candidate you can believe in by… maybe 2028?

And for the above options, “you” only means you the American reader. For the rest of the world, we can only rely on “you” to make the change you want to see happen. It’s not as if we can expect a Danish letter-writing campaign to target a town council election, although it would be entertaining. I suppose we could get together as the world and have each nation pick a district in the U.S. as a kind of political adoption campaign, but besides the amusement factor I doubt it would yield much in results.

At any rate, I figure the best I can come up to convince Americans to get something done between every four year cycle is to quote the American Declaration of Independence (uh, admittedly via the movie National Treasure)

“But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

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@BlueBlaze:
” I’m not saying this would work in the sense of actually making abortion illegal. But it might move the issue to the right (waiting period? Parental content nationally? Read anti-abortion literature first?) and would definitely make the republicans think about running a clearly anti-abortion candidate.”
I’m really confused, because you’re making it sound like the Republicans *aren’t* quite far to the right on this issue. Transvaginal ultrasounds, not even in cases of rape, etc.? What are you trying to say? When Romney/Ryan contradict their earlier stances and pretend not to be entirely anti-abortion, it’s pretty clear to most of us that they’re not being honest. Do you really think that if they won they wouldn’t attack it at all?

@HollyH

“It’s just… interesting that those particular issues are far more important to them than civil liberties for homosexuals, for women, or healthcare, or the social safety net. It almost makes one think that the people involved are privileged enough that those civil liberty issues don’t affect them personally…”

This is exactly the impression I’ve gotten from the comments in this post. If you want to talk about civil rights as a whole, you have to address ALL civil rights. Obama has not erased Bush’s eroding of some civil rights, but he has done a lot to protect others, and those others are not less important and something to mention as an “oh, yeah, he did that I guess” simply because they don’t affect most of the people that read this blog. It makes me pretty uncomfortable, I have to say. Same with the remarks about Obamacare.

Frankly, I don’t think it’s overreacting to actively fear reversal of Roe vs. Wade – not unless it’s also overreacting to call the US a “police state” when we don’t have the level of public surveillance that several other Western countries do.

@John Seevey

I like the way you think. And analogize.

Not wanting to vote for what you feel is the lesser of two actual evils is something I understand and somewhat sympathize with. But the solution is simply to not just care every four years when an election comes around. You have to actively work for change on a constant basis. It sucks and it’s hard, but to be honest, not doing that is what trips my “… makes you lose your right to complain” barrier.

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“But the solution is simply to not just care every four years when an election comes around. You have to actively work for change on a constant basis. It sucks and it’s hard, but to be honest, not doing that is what trips my “… makes you lose your right to complain” barrier.”

Can’t disagree with this.

The machine seems to facilitate disenfranchisement. The only way to combat it is to say, “Nah, I’m sick of this crap – time for a change.”

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“Do you really think that if they won they wouldn’t attack it at all?”

I’m fascinated by these questions at the moment, as I’m of the mind that the “culture war” crap is wearing mighty thin with left-leaning AND independent voters.

I think they’d attack it, but I don’t know that they could weather the backlash that’d result. I can’t help but think that their doing something like Roe v. Wade or permanently de-funding Planned Parenthood would lead to a one-term Presidency.

And Mitt may be a lot of things, but he’s not an idiot. I’d like to think that he’d know better than to overplay his hand to that extent.

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@Matt

I absolutely agree with you that rights must be protected. After all, what good is having the right to speak freely when all you’ll get is imprisonment or death. We should all be able to exercise our rights to the fullest.

The problem I have with the “rights are earned/given” perspective is that it leads to exclusionary practices. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the argument that “you don’t get to complain about the President because you didn’t vote,” or “you can’t criticize how the war is being run because you are dishonoring the memory of those who served,” as if voicing dissenting opinions requires one of those signs telling that you need to be this tall to ride.

This is all personal opinion, but to say that some people don’t deserve rights is to say that I’m better than those people, which flies in the face of “all men are created equal”. Again, IMO.

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Heksefatter said on November 6th, 2012 at 4:31 pm

@John Seveay

One: You haven’t answered my questions.

Two: No to your description. It is like voting for a decent man as pope, knowing full well that in reality the position will go to one of two prominent, corrupt, child-molesting archbishops, one of which is somewhat more vile than the other, but skilled at hiding it.

That’s not as easy a choice as you would have me believe.

And you are still not responding to my argument. Obama has been a HUGE success in getting improving public support for authoritarian policies. I have documented this. Accordingly, the authoritarian policies have been cemented in a way I doubt that McCain could do. How could McCain persuade liberals that all the crimes that I have mentioned, and which you have not really (as I see it) acknowledged, are somehow acceptable?

Obama has succeeded where no Republican president could. And furthermore, as long as Obama can get away with murder (literally – and worse), and still get your support, Democrats will realize that they can just commit crimes to their hearts’ content and STILL get support from their base.

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Heksefatter- I personally answer no to all your questions.

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@Heksefatter; “Obama has succeeded where no Republican could.” Except, y’know, for his immediate predecessor. Did eight years of Bush just not happen for you? Did you suffer some sort of traumatic amnesia immediately in the wake of the 2000 election, something that actually encompassed the announcement of the results and lasted straight up through January 2009?

Because as I remember it, a bunch of people who decided to teach the liberal candidate a lesson about being too centrist handed the country over to an arch-conservative who proceeded to make every tyrant’s wet dream about the surveillance state come true, and blithely ignored any protests to the contrary by portraying anyone who disagreed with him as unpatriotic. (Which is something you’ve blithely ignored in your claims that Obama is some sort of 5th columnist for the crushing jackboot of tyranny…his stabs at actually dismantling the security apparatus of Bush were met with such hysterical opposition that he had no choice but to withdraw them. Or was that a double-secret reverse bluff on his part?)

The Republicans made it very clear, from 2000-2008, that they intended to vastly increase the authority and power of the surveillance state regardless of opposition. You keep claiming that Americans were somehow poised to do something about that, but that Obama short-circuited this groundswell of citizen activism by…being nice and stuff. I say, Can you provide any kind of evidence that four years of McCain would have been different from eight years of Bush? Any at all? Can you provide any evidence that four years of Romney would be any different from eight years of Bush? Any at all? Because from where I sit, this is reading like, “The world in my imagination would have been much better than the real world, so I will align my vote in sympathy with my delusions.”

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…and of course, that all looks stupid with a missing closed italic. :)

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I’m not a Tolkien expert but it seems to me that he’s exactly the last author to evoke against Heksefatter since a running theme in his writing is the danger of rationalized moral defeatism in the face of overwhelming odds.

Tolkien kind of makes it clear that each of the characters are morally tested by various rationalizations that they ultimately reject at great personal struggle and often resulting in great personal cost rather than reward.

Just in terms of the Frodo bit alone, Frodo falls. The next step is his becoming a new Sauron, so yeah it is kind of imperative to get the ring away from him. Even Sauron was once a good guy. Prolonged exposure to the ring has overcome even Frodo’s virtue and set him on a trajectory towards evil. The only thing that saves him is the unforeseen result of a previous irrational but moral mercy that he bestowed on Gollum.

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Heksefatter said on November 7th, 2012 at 3:17 am

@John Seavey

You are STILL not answering anything. I have provided ample documentation of Obama’s crimes and I have asked questions about them.

But let me repeat:

- Obama sponsors a group, Mujahedeen-E-Khalq, which was on the US’ own terror list until Obama removed it very recently, due to its usefulness. This is sponsorship.of.terrorism. And Obama didn’t have to do this. You can’t say that “unfortunately he couldn’t push terminating the terrorism through.” Actually, Obama wouldn’t even need to consult Congress to stop this action, which was a clear felony anyway. I can refer you to Momahmmed ElBaredei’s book, ‘The Age of Deception’. (ElBaredei was the chief of the international atomic energy watchdog agency and the winner of the 2005 nobel peace prize), where it is made clear that the US actively cracking down on the Mujahedeen-E-Khalq was part of an agreement of security coorperation and Iran actively cracking down on Al-Qaeda. Now it turns out that Obama IS SUPPORTING THE TERRORISTS AND REMOVING THEM FROM THE TERROR LIST! The Republicans did NOT make him do that.

Obama has expanded the police state. And no, you can’t say that he has tried to improve things, but failed due to Republican opposition. He pretended that the NDAA was something he was against and which was forced upon him by Congress. Then he fought for it tooth and claw in court. The Republicans didn’t make him do that. In fact, there was roughly as much Republican opposition in the Senate to that insane law, as there was Democratic opposition. Disgusting.

No-one forced Obama to use drones to force Pakistanis to live in abject terror. The Republicans can’t force him to bomb another country like that. He increased those bombings of his own accord.

Likewise the Republicans do not force Obama to torture people. He could have cracked down on torture at Bagram Airbase. Do you know that the torture procedures at Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan pretty much follows the procedures the CIA laid out in the KUBARK manuals in the sixties and expanded at the School of the Americas in the eighties? (Check George Washington University’s National Security Archive in the article ‘PRISONER ABUSE: PATTERNS FROM THE PAST’ if you want to read some of the manuals themselves. Or just google ‘CIA torture manuals.’ Obama has done nothing to end this. Or google Theresa Cusimano and School of the Americas Watch, if you want to see a US citizen being tortured much the same way under Obama. The Republicans didn’t make him do that either.

No-one forced Obama to pursue more whistleblowers than all previous presidents combined. Likewise, he didn’t have to make plans for setting up domestic surveillance drones, nor for considering arming them. That’s a police state. And likewise he increased spying on citzens from Bush-levels. Did the Republicans *force* him to make things worse? How?

I can’t accept these excuses for Obama’s crimes. I can accept the lesser evil argument. I think it’s a very difficult choice. But if you start defending Obama as such, I think it is illustrative of the problem. Obama has conned so many people into believing that he’s not a criminal scumbag.

And what I believe that you’re not getting is that the police state can only be combatted by civic activism. During the civil rights movement, it was hard activism that finally managed to turn opinion around. But Obama has severely damaged the basis for that, by persuading the liberal third of the acceptability of the police state. As such, he has destroyed the basis for civic activism.

Look at this – if we start making excuses for a criminal like Obama, how can we improve things? Torture, terrorism, total surveillance, armed drones, drone bombings, warmongering…if we start to accept someone responsible for this, the struggle is lost.

And now, you’re pointing to the disaster of the Bush presidency. We see now that a Democrat reacting to 9/11 would not refrain from introducing a police state either, though he would sell it better. Furthermore, the invasion of Iraq was already being considered during the Clinton years. I recall how the Danish government was sounded out about participating in the attack back then. And Clinton also starved the Iraqi people at the genocidal scale due to fradulent claims about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction. Again, I urge you to read ElBaredei’s book for a critical review, though the genocide is well documented.

I am disgusted. Not by people making the difficult choice to vote for the lesser evil. Not by decent people who have been conned by either of the two main parties. But I am utterly and completely disgusted with the US political elite. And I think that it is of critical importance that we stop making excuses for it.

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Well, I didn’t vote even though I could’ve, Romney didn’t win as I was sure he wouldn’t, and I don’t have to feel guilty about anything bad Obama might do over the next four years the way I felt guilty about the stuff he did in his first term, when I actually voted for him.

You argue that we should feel responsible for whatever happens if we don’t vote, Chris. Well, I think we should also feel responsible for what happens if we do vote. And a sin of omission is easier for me to live with than a sin of commission.

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@Heksefatter: I haven’t answered your questions because they are magnificently irrelevant. You continue to say, “Obama is the worst option because he’s so nice that nobody is working to oppose them!” I continue to point out to you that all signs support an evaluation that he is not the worst option, because if a Republican had been in office, they would have done everything you complain about and probably worse and would have ignored all opposition.

Because that’s the lesson Republicans learned over the Bush administration. Protests, social activism, movements…all those things are designed to shame you into stop doing what you’re doing. If you simply ignore them, if you just say “I do not give a fuck about your opinions and you’re all a bunch of pathetic losers” for long enough, eventually they will give up and go away. Cindy Sheehan eventually had to admit that Bush could ignore her for longer than she could persist with him. Mitt Romney simply refused to release his tax returns until the media found something new to complain about. They have found the exploit in our political system, and it is that if you have no shame, they cannot shame you into changing.

Obama, for all his faults (and I believe that they are systemic faults in politicians, not faults of the man personally–I think if you give someone that kind of power, they will use it because the Presidency is only available to those who actively seek power to further their agenda) has shown himself to be receptive to criticism. He gave in on DADT, he gave in on gay marriage, he gave in on the Dream Act and passed an executive order enacting what provisions he could. The idea that he is somehow responsible for other people deciding not to protest his policies, and that it would be better if we had someone who did worse things and was not receptive to criticism is nonsense. It literally makes no sense to think that we would be better off if we were worse off, and I can’t support it.

You want to protest Obama’s policies? Do it. You want to elect Romney so that you have someone that more people will protest? Thank god that didn’t happen. :)

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Heksefatter said on November 7th, 2012 at 4:05 pm

@John

Here is what divides us, I think.

1) I believe that civil activism is key, you don’t. Therefore, you are not particularly concerned that Obama has made liberals accept the Bush policies.

2) I believe that Obama is a criminal scumbag, who is guilty of terrorism, torture and many other crimes and that this cannot be stressed enough. You won’t even comment on it, except to say that they are systemic failures. I partly agree with this, but if you start excusing Obama for this, you should extend the same courtesy to Republican criminals.

Now, considering your argument that conservatives just ignore liberals anyway. I believe that this is very wrong. Let me give you several examples:

1) Compare the greatest Bush-crime, Iraq, with Vietnam. In Vietnam, liberal presidents just poisoned the land with chemicals, carpet bombed it and threw a couple of millions into concentration camps called strategic hamlets. While Bush should get life in prison for his crimes in Iraq, he was still far less brutal than Johnson in Vietnam. Why? Because public opinion had shifted. It would no longer tolerate so blatant atrocities. That Obama has shifted public opinion towards increased acceptance of war crimes will stay with us for a generation or more.

2) Today government documents obtained from British archives show that public opposition to the Iraq war almost made the Blair administration back down. Democratcs are much better at assembling war coalitions. I doubt any European government would dare join a Republican president in an attack on Iran. Obama might well succeed, though.

3) I point to the civil rights movement again. Nominally, both parties agreed that segregation should be abolished. But they wouldn’t move a finger for it. What made things change was civil activism. What mattered was not that it was a democrat in the White House – back then, the dems were more soiled with racism than the Republicans – but that civil activism forced the change.

I think these things matter. I think that it is our civic duty to recognize the evil for what it is. To see that Obama and Romney are both two different sides of the same debased coin. That doesn’t preclude voting for Obama as a purely strategic measure, but if you accept that damn coin, you’ve been conned. Nothing in US politics is more important than people realizing this.

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Heksefatter said on November 7th, 2012 at 4:08 pm

PS: I don’t want to elect Romney. You know that. I just think, on balance, opposition to state terrorism, torture and police state methods would be served by voting for Obama the Smiley-face-fascist. I think it is hardline opposition with all peaceful means I’ve got. I could be wrong. I don’t know.

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Heksefatter said on November 7th, 2012 at 4:25 pm

PPS: I regret what I see as a snarky tone in my first point one and two. I have a big problem with the fact that many liberals refuse to accept that what Obama has done is horrific. Not just wrong. Horrific. Despicable crimes at the 9/11 scale or worse. I see this refusal to accept Obama’s crimes as a major problem, which infuriates me. But I don’t know your stance on the subject.

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I am amazed. Until now I have never actually seen a conservative stereotype of a liberal in action. I didn’t think they actually existed.

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@Heksefatter: I seem not to have been clear on a key point: When I say that I think that there is a systemic fault in politicians that makes them prone to abuse power, that does not mean that I think it is present to the same degree in all politicians. I think Obama is prone to abuse his power to advance his agenda, but not to the degree that Bush did, or that I believe McCain or Romney would.

And for that matter, I would point out that this “Jill Stein would be a much better choice, because she won’t abuse her power” claim rests mostly on her career as an activist and candidate, hypothetically extrapolated to her future presidential powers…which is exactly what activists just like you said in 2008 about Obama.

Rather than constantly look for an imaginary President who will do what you want, why don’t you just use the social activism that you say you believe in and I don’t to get the rational and sane President we’ve got to do things? You say nobody’s protesting Obama’s civil rights record because he’s somehow secretly neutered the opposition with his criminal niceness…I say he’s not doing anything to improve civil rights in America because nobody’s holding his feet to the fire over it.

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The problem, John, is that for whatever reason, Obama’s questionable actions don’t seem to be as well-known as Bush’s were. If not enough people know about things like how signature drone strikes work, or know that Obama not only signed NDAA but praised the Bush-era Patriot Act as an essential terrorism-fighting tool despite the objections of people in his own party such a Dick Durbin, or know who Bradley Manning is and what’s happening to him, there will be no holding of feet to the fire.

You’re also assuming that Obama would care about protests more than Bush did, and I’m skeptical of that.

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Hypo-Calvinist said on November 8th, 2012 at 1:42 pm

“I haven’t answered your questions because they are magnificently irrelevant.”

You could stop treating people who disagree with you as though the very fact that they have a different opinion makes them an idiot, but hey it’s your site.

“You say nobody’s protesting Obama’s civil rights record because he’s somehow secretly neutered the opposition with his criminal niceness…I say he’s not doing anything to improve civil rights in America because nobody’s holding his feet to the fire over it.”

I’m sure Obama will be suitably chastened by your voting for him regardless of what he does.

“You continue to say, ‘Obama is the worst option because he’s so nice that nobody is working to oppose them!’”

No, Heks continues to say that despite Obama deliberately continuing and expanding the awful policies of Bush and the neo-cons, the same people on the left who correctly called Bush and his cabinet war criminals, find excuse after excuse for Obama. The right could very easily attack Obama on these very policies, what could be more “Big Government” than taking for oneself the power to unilaterally decide who lives and dies? However, since they are as committed to the Republican Party as you are to the Democratic, they can only strain from their leashes as far as Commie, or maybe Muslim, depending on how far south of the Mason-Dixon line their brain is.

“He gave in on DADT, he gave in on gay marriage, he gave in on the Dream Act and passed an executive order enacting what provisions he could. ”

Whoops, you gave the game away here, John. If Obama actually believed in the equality of human beings, then why would you call this giving in?

“…your claims that Obama is some sort of 5th columnist for the crushing jackboot of tyranny…his stabs at actually dismantling the security apparatus of Bush were met with such hysterical opposition that he had no choice but to withdraw them.”

If by withdraw them, you mean laugh up his sleeve while he expanded them, than I guess you have a point. I posted a number of links in my response to your original post John, and no one challenged their veracity. You can’t responsibly ignore them and then make wise ass comments as though you had proven them demonstrably false.

“Because as I remember it, a bunch of people who decided to teach the liberal candidate a lesson about being too centrist handed the country over to an arch-conservative…”

So if 50 million people vote for murderer A and 49.8 million vote for murderer B, the downfall of the country should properly be assigned to the 500 thousand who voted for someone who has never even committed an assault? (I chose these numbers just to keep it simple, despite Gore actually winning the Popular vote in 2000)

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I’m sure Obama will be suitably chastened by your voting for him regardless of what he does.

Yeah, that’s the thing. If I were Barack Obama, and I were looking at these election results, I would be thinking “Hey, awesome, they really like what I’m doing! I have a fucking mandate, and I’m gonna keep on launching drone strikes at areas which MIGHT have terrorists in them but where we really don’t have any idea for sure–signature strikes, as we call them–and if even more civilians get blown up and we don’t kill any terrorists at all, meh. Doesn’t matter. The American people sure won’t object, and I won’t lose any sleep over it.”

He is not going to think “Oh shit, I only got 332 electoral votes! The American people are really angry about my wars, and about the NDAA, and a lot of other stuff! I should do what they want me to do!”

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@Hypo-Calvinist: “You could stop treating people who disagree with you as though the very fact that they have a different opinion makes them an idiot, but hey it’s your site.”

I didn’t say the questions were irrelevant because the questioner held a different opinion, I said they were irrelevant because they were a transparent attempt to shift the goalposts from ‘Is Obama the best realistic option we have under the current political system?’ to ‘Is Obama, in absolute terms, a ‘good’ person?’

Which misses the fundamental point of MGK’s post and mine, that we don’t live in a world where we can pick our personal choice based on our ethical code and expect them to win, and that stamping one’s feet and folding one’s arms and saying, “Oh, yeah? Well I’m going to vote for that person anyway!” is, in its own way, contributory to the election of the truly terrible right-wing candidates we’ve gotten over the last decade. The question of whether Obama could be a better President in absolute terms is, as I said, irrelevant to the question of whether the Obama we have is better than the realistic alternatives.

“I’m sure Obama will be suitably chastened by your voting for him regardless of what he does.”

Heksefatter is the one saying that he believes in social activism as a force for change. He seems to think I don’t agree with him. Yet both you and he keep tossing out “if you vote for him, he won’t change” as an argument. I would say that your own position demands that you do something other than cast a meaningless ‘protest vote’ that helps Obama’s Republican opponent, but you apparently don’t see it that way.

“No, Heks continues to say that despite Obama deliberately continuing and expanding the awful policies of Bush and the neo-cons, the same people on the left who correctly called Bush and his cabinet war criminals, find excuse after excuse for Obama.”

And he blames Obama for this. I blame the people not protesting his actions in any meaningful way, and I don’t come up with some sort of conspiracy theory about how Obama has duped the country into complacency and we’d all be better off with an unrepentant monster like Romney because at least there you know where you stand. I admit freely that I think mine is the more sensible position, placing accountability for a lack of public outrage on the public, rather than suggesting they are helpless puppets to the will of a sinister shadow government, but YMMV. :)

“Whoops, you gave the game away here, John. If Obama actually believed in the equality of human beings, then why would you call this giving in?”

I’d actually say that this is the point where you give the game away, because you’re suggesting that you honestly believe that the President of the United States can always act directly on his/her personal convictions, and never has to take into account the feelings of the entire electorate.

Obama, in all probability, personally wanted to repeal DADT on Day One. Half the country was opposed to it. Strongly and vocally opposed. Obama can’t just ignore the protests that you don’t like and listen to the ones you do. He kind of has to listen to everyone. So he didn’t act right away, even though his base constituency felt like this was a betrayal of their principles, because his base constituency seemed like they did not represent the American people.

Over the course of his Presidency, though, the opposition to DADT made their voice heard in a way that made it clear that they were a growing movement. Rather than stand in their way, Obama gave in. It was probably very easy to do because his personal convictions were in line with theirs, but frankly, if you think an American president can always act on their personal convictions, disregarding the views of the electorate, I have a bridge to sell you.

“If by withdraw them, you mean laugh up his sleeve while he expanded them, than I guess you have a point.”

…so you’re saying that Obama laughed up his sleeve while expanding his attempts to dismantle Bush’s security apparatus? Huh. That’s good news, I guess.

“So if 50 million people vote for murderer A and 49.8 million vote for murderer B, the downfall of the country should properly be assigned to the 500 thousand who voted for someone who has never even committed an assault? (I chose these numbers just to keep it simple, despite Gore actually winning the Popular vote in 2000)”

Yes. Because those people are really voting for murderer A. They’re just doing it in a way that allows them to keep their hands clean. And act smug and self-righteous about it, thankyewverymuch.

Again, I go back to the medical analogy. Imagine your doctor tells you, “Your arm is infected and gangrenous. If we don’t amputate tomorrow, you will die.” You respond with, “The kind of mutilation you’re talking about here is sick and twisted and wrong, and will leave me permanently debilitated, and I refuse to be a party to it. I’m instead choosing to get a penicillin shot, because penicillin is a safe and noble medication with a long track record of success.” This is all true, but it makes you no less a goddamn moron for getting a penicillin shot, and it really is the same thing as out-and-out deciding to die.

Now imagine that you’re my conjoined twin, and we share a circulatory and respiratory system. Can you maybe see how your noble stance for absolute morality might make me a little unhappy? On the grounds that your decision not to choose a realistic option is going to kill me?

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Hypo-Calvinist said on November 9th, 2012 at 2:20 pm

“I didn’t say the questions were irrelevant because the questioner held a different opinion, I said they were irrelevant because they were a transparent attempt to shift the goalposts…”

You repeatedly call Heks and by extension those agreeing with him children. My point was simply that as far as the policies we want, we all seem to be on pretty much the same side, and I think this name-calling is counterproductive.

“…from ‘Is Obama the best realistic option we have under the current political system?’”

I have no doubt that Obama is the best we can hope for this term, the problem is: when you consistently vote for the lesser of two evils, the evil becomes less lesser each time. We are merely taking the, I think, obvious position that if the Dems lose or come close to losing because they lost votes over enacting awful, right-wing policies, they won’t be so quick to enact awful, right-wing policies. I.E. voting for Jill Stein is the best realistic option we have to change the current political system. I mean this both in terms of making a third party candidacy viable in the future, and in terms of bringing the Democratic Party back from the platform of the 1996 RNC.

“to ‘Is Obama, in absolute terms, a ‘good’ person?’”

Why hello, Straw-man, how are you? None of us kids give the slightest flying fish of a fuck about whether Obama is a “good” person, we care about whether or not he’s a “good” president. We are judging him based on his policies, not his personality.

“Heksefatter is the one saying that he believes in social activism… I would say that your own position demands that you do something other than cast a meaningless ‘protest vote’ that helps Obama’s Republican opponent, but you apparently don’t see it that way.”

But you are the one framing it as meaningless. If we believed that I doubt we would be spending days arguing with you. There is no reason you can’t engage in activism and cast your vote in order to pull the “center” back to the actual center.

“And he blames Obama for this.”

No, holy fuck no! We blame you! Not you personally, but everyone with this attitude that we have to support the Dems, no matter what. It’s this nonsense that leads the very same people who complained and protested against Bush’s policies to support Obama in expanding the very same policies!

“…and I don’t come up with some sort of conspiracy theory about how Obama has duped the country into complacency and we’d all be better off with an unrepentant monster like Romney because at least there you know where you stand.”

Neither did we.

“…you’re suggesting that you honestly believe that the President of the United States can always act directly on his/her personal convictions…”

No, I’m not. I’m suggesting that if I like Chocolate iced cream, and everyone else in my family likes Vanilla, when I buy chocolate, nobody would say I was “giving in”.

“‘If by withdraw them, you mean laugh up his sleeve while he expanded them, than I guess you have a point.’

…so you’re saying that Obama laughed up his sleeve while expanding his attempts to dismantle Bush’s security apparatus? Huh. That’s good news, I guess.”

?????????? If you’re just going to make up your own version of history, I really don’t have the energy to correct you. For anyone else reading this, please go back to the links I posted and explain to me how what John is saying can possibly make any sense.

“Again, I go back to the medical analogy”

Your analogy doesn’t work. You are the one telling us that our vote is going to kill the patient. Unless you spent 10 years of college and residency studying the health of the American electoral system, you don’t get to call yourself a doctor. I appreciate the hyperbole, but we’re not talking about the country dying, even in your estimation of how bad Mitt is (and I don’t dispute that he is an awful piece of shit). And I may be a goddamn moron, as you say, but I can’t help but notice that this doctor prescribes the same treatment every visit, no matter what my ailment. Maybe if we conjoined twins had looked for a competent doctor, instead of arguing with each other, we wouldn’t be in this gangrenous state.

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“No, I’m not. I’m suggesting that if I like
Chocolate iced cream, and everyone else in my family likes Vanilla, when I buy chocolate, nobody would say I was “giving in”.”

That analogy doesn’t work, because people can choose not to eat the ice cream. People can not choose to not be governed by hte president(without great difficulty)

If you’re going to use food you need better analogies. For example let’s say the people eating are starving because they would HAVE to eat just as you have to live under the administration of the current president.

So let’s say these starving people scrounge enough money to get something to eat. And the places they can get something to eat are a burger place, a pizza place or a seafood place.

Putting it to a vote the people are tied with two people left to vote. Burgers are one vote behind seafood. However all of the people who want burgers are both deathly allergic to seafood and extremely lactose intolerant.

But the last two people want seafood. It doesn’t matter that seafood can’t win, and they’re dooming the people who want burgers to an evening of extreme intestinal discomfort. They vote for seafood and pizza wins as the choice of food.

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Hypo-Calvinist said on November 9th, 2012 at 4:15 pm

“If you’re going to use food you need better analogies.”

I should have been clearer, John said Obama “gave in” on gay marriage and other issues. My point is, if Obama believes in these policies, then it makes no sense to say he “gave in” when he enacted them.

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Heksefatter said on November 9th, 2012 at 4:45 pm

I think that a major divide here is that I (and, I suspect, a lot of those who wouldn’t vote for Obama or Romney) don’t think that Obama is on the side of the angels and that there are institutional reasons for this, more than personal ones.

If I thought that Obama was fighting the good fight against the police state and other matters of supreme importance, but failing due to opposition, then I promise that I would be screaming on the top of my lungs for people to vote for Obama. Heck, I’d tatoo his “Hope”-portrait above my ass as a tramp stamp.

But he is not fighting the good fight on issues such as terrorism, police state, torture, militarism or whatnot. I’ve just read an article by Sibel Edmonds, founder (and when she wrote the piece, president) of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition. She was booted from the FBI for complaining about power abuses. She describes how Obama right from the very beginning began to add new pages to the Bush Book of Dirty Tricks and committing new abuses of power. She stated unequivocally that she did not imagine a president McCain to be worse or better.

And yet, people think that Obama is an improvement. They make excuses. They trivialize his crimes. The major Danish liberal paper just had an editorial about how Obama represented the most beautiful ideals of the United States, with liberty and equality of opportunity for all.

Disgusting! It scares me deeply that Obama can sell the police state, torture and terrorism well enough for otherwise intelligent people to be fooled.

And I hope that I am wrong, but I think that I am seeing something of the same here. Mentioning Obama’s torture, terrorism, warmongering and police state methods are described as irrelevant and a transparent attempt to shift the goalposts. Let me stress as much as I can I mention these crimes because I think that they are supremely relevant and I quite frankly am furious over the crimes that Western governments continously commit. To me, people realizing these crimes, something which both liberals and conservatives consistently downplay, is much more important than who sits in the White House. I can’t understand why anyone who is in favour of peace and justice could refuse to even state his opinion on whether Obama has committed the crimes that I have spoken of.

I will remind people of Frederick Douglass, who observed that power would concede nothing without a struggle, whether physical or moral. Whatever the reason it is an indisputable truth that Obama has undermined the basis of that struggle.

Furthermore, I will ask people to stop saying that a vote for Jill Stein or another decent person is a vote for Romney. This is nonsense. You could argue that it is instead a blank vote, removed from Obama, but not added to Romney.

Finally, I will remind you that there are decent Republicans out there, adamantly opposed to the crazed warmongering of Obama, Bush and Romney all. People who respect other nations and oppose imperialism. Some may wonder why they are Republicans then, but it is no stranger than people with the same opinions considering themselves Democrats.

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to be perfectly honest, I don’t buy that you hope you’re wrong about what you say about Obama. On this board you’re coming across as someone who’d rather be right about something being terrible so you can claim you were right. Now I don’t really know you, but that’s what it feels like.

I may not want the US to constantly be invading other countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, but I do not want terrorist organizations to simply be left in peace until an attempted attack. And you are not going to adapt policy to make all of them go away. I view drone warfare as sniping from a further distance and am glad there’s another way to keep out soldiers safer.

THere’s also the fact that a president that many still believe to not be American actively attempting to dismantle the US security apparatus would not be good for liberal causes.

I happen to have nothing against power and I don’t believe this government is made up of 1984 style “the purpose of power is power” sociopathic want to be dictators. Fact is my neighbors have more to gain screwing me over than my government does.

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Hypo-Calvinist said on November 9th, 2012 at 10:20 pm

“to be perfectly honest, I don’t buy that you hope you’re wrong about what you say about Obama.”

Heks never claimed to hope he was wrong about Obama as though it was still to be proven one way or the other, he said he hoped he was wrong about people continuing to be so quick to excuse Obama’s failings.

“On this board you’re coming across as someone who’d rather be right about something being terrible so you can claim you were right. Now I don’t really know you, but that’s what it feels like.”

So, refusing to ignore the fact that Obama is killing people with no due process (among other travesties), equals ‘Wah! Wah! I have to have things my way!’? If you are going to accuse someone of caring more about being right than they care about human life, you really need to back it up with more than ‘I can’t really say why I think you’re scum, it’s just a feeling I have’!

“I may not want the US to constantly be invading other countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, but I do not want terrorist organizations to simply be left in peace until an attempted attack. And you are not going to adapt policy to make all of them go away. I view drone warfare as sniping from a further distance and am glad there’s another way to keep out soldiers safer.”

If you want to talk about terrorists, we could bring up MEK again, they’ve been making it rain over Washington while being sucked off with equal gusto by both parties. Or we might consider that if you kidnap someone, or torture them, or kill their family in a drone strike they tend not to have the most positive view of the US. If the US government decided without benefit of a trial that you were a terrorist, than kidnapped and tortured you, and when you were finally released after 18 months in a dark hole, you came home to find a pile of rubble covering the bodies of your family, is it possible you would be less concerned about “keep(ing) our soldiers safer”? If the last sentence of that quote really summarizes your feelings on drone strikes, either you have no idea what you are talking about, or you are the one who doesn’t care about human life.

“THere’s also the fact that a president that many still believe to not be American actively attempting to dismantle the US security apparatus would not be good for liberal causes.”

If Obama stops murdering people, the racist fuckwits who call him an Anti-Colonialist, commie Muslim might call him a super-duper commie Muslim? Is that the problem?

“I happen to have nothing against power and I don’t believe this government is made up of 1984 style “the purpose of power is power” sociopathic want to be dictators. Fact is my neighbors have more to gain screwing me over than my government does.”

If you have nothing against power, I suggest you study history. Any history. Start literally anywhere, any place, any era, and you will see examples of those with power taking advantage of those without. As to your neighbors, they can screw over only the people in the few houses surrounding their own, while the immense power and reach of the government of the United States allows it to screw over the entire population of the Earth.

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@Hypo-Calvinist: “We are merely taking the, I think, obvious position that if the Dems lose or come close to losing because they lost votes over enacting awful, right-wing policies, they won’t be so quick to enact awful, right-wing policies. I.E. voting for Jill Stein is the best realistic option we have to change the current political system. I mean this both in terms of making a third party candidacy viable in the future, and in terms of bringing the Democratic Party back from the platform of the 1996 RNC.”

And if this worked, I’d be all for it. But the 2000 election is, to all intents and purposes, the best example of it being tried. The far-left wing of the Democratic party tried to teach the centrist candidate a lesson by voting for Nader, thus delivering the country to a far-right-wing idealogue who proceeded to demonstrate just how far the differences between the two parties actually were. The Democrats responded to this clear and stinging rebuke to their centrist policies by selecting…John Kerry. And then Barack Obama. At that point, I gotta say, if you’re still trying to teach the Democrats a lesson by voting for third-party candidates, you’re either doing it just to make yourself feel better, or you’re doing it because you’re dumber than a sack of hammers. Because nobody looks at that track record and thinks, “Hey, this is working great!”

For that matter, this is exactly what we’re currently making fun of the Republicans for doing! “They seriously think that their problem is that Romney was too centrist? They seriously think that next time, they should nominate Santorum or Gingrich? How could they really be that crazy?” Speaking personally, I would rather not lose nobly upholding liberal principles, because a noble loss does exactly fuck-all good to the people who suffer under the zombie-eyed granny starvers on the right.

“Why hello, Straw-man, how are you? None of us kids give the slightest flying fish of a fuck about whether Obama is a “good” person, we care about whether or not he’s a “good” president. We are judging him based on his policies, not his personality.”

Once again, this is an irrelevant shifting of the goalposts. Whether you are judging him personally or his policies, you still have to judge him relative to the other realistic options, not relative to the Pope. (OK, admittedly he’d probably still win there. Let’s pick John Paul II. :) ) Saying, “I’d rather have someone who never compromises the liberal and progressive principles” sounds good, but in practice, you are essentially saying, “I would rather see the conservatives loot the public treasury with both hands and funnel the proceeds into the pockets of their rich benefactors and watch as they use drone strikes on civilians and illegally wiretap people and systematically discriminate against gays and minorities and re-enact the poll tax…(deep breath)…than get someone who will only do two out of six. Because I expect BETTER.” I just don’t think that’s a great consolation to the gays, minorities and poor people that are being screwed over while you circle around for another pass at that windmill.

“No, holy fuck no! We blame you! Not you personally, but everyone with this attitude that we have to support the Dems, no matter what. It’s this nonsense that leads the very same people who complained and protested against Bush’s policies to support Obama in expanding the very same policies!”

(Fawlty) Oh! Oh, I see! It’s not your fault for refusing to do anything beyond a meaningless and scarcely-noticed protest vote every four years! And it’s not Obama’s fault for actually enacting the policies that seem to reflect the views of the majority of the American public! It’s my fault for not sufficiently motivating you to protest in a meaningful way! Well, I must be punished then! (/Fawlty)

Seriously? This is the best you’ve got? My apathy is the fault of everyone else for being just as apathetic as I am? If all of you listened to my Internet diatribes and did something meaningful we wouldn’t be in this mess? Thanks, but I’m not accepting delivery on that blame.

““‘If by withdraw them, you mean laugh up his sleeve while he expanded them, than I guess you have a point.’

…so you’re saying that Obama laughed up his sleeve while expanding his attempts to dismantle Bush’s security apparatus? Huh. That’s good news, I guess.”

?????????? If you’re just going to make up your own version of history, I really don’t have the energy to correct you. For anyone else reading this, please go back to the links I posted and explain to me how what John is saying can possibly make any sense.”

I’ll put you out of your misery, here: Mine was a joke on your attribution error. I said that Obama withdrew his attempts to undo Bush policies (like, say, attempting to close Guantanamo) in the face of hysterical Republican opposition. You responded with, “He didn’t withdraw them!! He expanded them!!” The problem is that you chose the wrong ‘them’ in your witty riposte, because my ‘them’ referred to the efforts to undo the policies, not the policies themselves. Thus, your statement suggested that Obama was expanding his efforts to undo the Bush security policy. I responded, jokingly, that this was a good thing, figuring that you would go, “huh?” Then go back, read what you wrote, realize your mistake, and rephrase what you said to make a bit more sense. Instead, you seem to have assumed that I’m some sort of crazy person. Hopefully, this clarification helps to reduce that assumption. (What can I say, I takes my laughs when I can get ‘em.)

““Again, I go back to the medical analogy”

Your analogy doesn’t work. You are the one telling us that our vote is going to kill the patient.”

No, history is doing that. I am merely its voice. :) Again, and again and again and again until it sinks in…how does your strategy explain the last twelve years? Clearly and unequivocally, on both sides of the aisle, extremism and demands for greater ideological purity hurt the party making those calls, not their opposition. Whether Nader in 2000, O’Donnell in 2010, or Murdock in 2012, we have seen that you have to be realistic about how much the American electorate will move toward you. Refusing to acknowledge that, and refusing to acknowledge that there is such a thing as “tactical voting”, is a good way to get Republicans elected. And eight years of Bush has taught me that, no, the two sides are not more or less the same.

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I view drone warfare as sniping from a further distance and am glad there’s another way to keep out soldiers safer.

Um, no. Drone strikes are nowhere near as surgical as sniping, and they’ve killed a LOT of innocent civilians, and they’re going to kill more. If you have a little bit less than 6 minutes, watch this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOcK6HsOoEc

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And you know what, here’s what it comes down to. If somebody does shit I hate with a goddamn passion, if somebody does things that makes me sick to my stomach, I’m not going to vote for that person.

Seems to me that’s a natural human reaction, not wanting to support somebody who has alienated you.

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Hypo-Calvinist said on November 10th, 2012 at 3:31 am

Well, looking back I did mix up the wording on withdrew and expand, so you have currently made one coherent point.

A slightly more serious attribution error, though, would be your smug insistence that we are tilting at electoral windmills instead of protesting through other means. Maybe I organize street theater with Code Pink. Perhaps I am a Raging Granny. Could be I was one of the nuns who just got off the bus. For all you know, I could be a founding member of the fucking Weather Underground.

“I would rather see the conservatives loot the public treasury with both hands and funnel the proceeds into the pockets of their rich benefactors and watch as they use drone strikes on civilians and illegally wiretap people and systematically discriminate against gays and minorities and re-enact the poll tax”

The Democrats actually do all of these things as well, excepting discrimination, where they finally stood up to some degree for civil rights, and the Poll Tax which I am praying you are merely using as an exaggeration of the consistent Republican efforts at disenfranchising minority voters. This is not much of a point, because while it’s easy enough to strike Blacks, Hispanics and poor people off the rolls without anyone in the media getting terribly upset, there is no group which traditionally votes Republican in sufficient numbers to make it worth the while of the Democrats. Not that their is no group per se, but I have a feeling it might be hard to get away with disenfranchising say, mortgage brokers or CEO’s.

“Refusing to acknowledge that, and refusing to acknowledge that there is such a thing as “tactical voting”, is a good way to get Republicans elected.”

It’s only you who refuses to acknowledge that the other side could conceivably have a point. I merely question your logic, and I am able to do that without calling you stupid, or childish or anything else other than misguided. To be clear, I’m not claiming to be offended, I just think it doesn’t really add anything to the discussion. Civility please, you stupid prick. :)

I’m a bit worried some might mistake the tone of that, but I just thought it was too good to pass up. I was going to say no hard feelings, but I have plenty of hard feelings, just nothing strong enough to actually call someone a prick over, stupid or otherwise.

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Heksefatter said on November 10th, 2012 at 4:40 am

@Hypo

You mentioned some links you posted before. I’ve looked for them and cannot find them. I’ve had trouble with posting links on this site before. Sometimes they disappear for me. Can you repost?

And I still think that Obama sucks donkey balls.

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Heksefatter said on November 10th, 2012 at 4:40 am

Yeah, just had to add that.

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Hypo-Calvinist said on November 10th, 2012 at 11:52 am

@Heks
I was referring to the links I posted in Johns original post, sorry for the mix-up.

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hypo-

The treasury is there for a purpose. Presumably different sides view the purpose differently, but it’s fare to say that the looting of it for one side, is not the looting of it for the other.

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@Hypo-Calvinist: “A slightly more serious attribution error, though, would be your smug insistence that we are tilting at electoral windmills instead of protesting through other means. Maybe I organize street theater with Code Pink. Perhaps I am a Raging Granny. Could be I was one of the nuns who just got off the bus. For all you know, I could be a founding member of the fucking Weather Underground. ”

OK, for one thing, it is an inviolable axiom of the Internet that whenever someone says, “For all you know, I could be…” then the one thing you can count on is that they’re not whatever it is they just said they could be.

But even if you were what you said you were, that doesn’t make this tactic sensible. If you’re going out and working in party primaries and caucuses, getting better candidates out there at state and local levels who will further the progressive agenda, then great! If you’re contributing time and money to progressive causes, wonderful! If you’re actively protesting and encouraging others to do so, yay! If you still think, after twelve-plus years of epic failure, that all our problems will be solved if enough of us just vote Green…then I’m sorry, but you’re either colossally deluded or you don’t really care whether it works or not so long as the blame is shifted to everybody else. And even then, that wouldn’t be such a big deal if not for XKCD’s famous line, “Numbers continue to be best system for determining which of two things is larger.” When you don’t vote Democrat, and the other side’s guys do vote Republican, then they have more votes and they win. And their agenda is enacted unopposed. And your claim…

“The Democrats actually do all of these things as well, excepting discrimination, where they finally stood up to some degree for civil rights, and the Poll Tax which I am praying you are merely using as an exaggeration of the consistent Republican efforts at disenfranchising minority voters. This is not much of a point, because while it’s easy enough to strike Blacks, Hispanics and poor people off the rolls without anyone in the media getting terribly upset, there is no group which traditionally votes Republican in sufficient numbers to make it worth the while of the Democrats. Not that their is no group per se, but I have a feeling it might be hard to get away with disenfranchising say, mortgage brokers or CEO’s.”

…is really the sort of thing that I hoped we had heard the last of in 2000. Do you really think that Gore would have been just as bad as Bush? Do you really think that election made no difference at all? Because you know what…if you do, it’s time for some of that name-calling you don’t like. You’d be stupid to think that. Rock stupid. I am not calling you that, I am calling anyone dumb enough to think that Gore would have done the same thing Bush did that. If that happens to include you, well…again, I’m sorry, but you need to hear it from somebody. The alternative is that you keep helping to get guys like Bush elected, and then wondering why things keep getting worse when you just know that there are so many great liberals out there working to fix it.

I’d like to be able to say all that without sounding rude, but, well…changing “rock stupid” to “displaying a severe ignorance of the philosophical underpinnings and historical records of both candidates” isn’t really any nicer, just wordier. I’d love to hear how you think I should tell you that your voting strategy is ludicrously naive and counter-productive without being rude, though. Any suggestions?

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Heksefatter said on November 11th, 2012 at 7:44 am

@Hypo

I can’t find ‘em in response to the original post either. Could you re-post?

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Heksefatter said on November 11th, 2012 at 8:16 am

As for my own conclusions from all this: I’ve learned a lot – or at least I think I have (alternatively, I’ve sunk deeper into delusion). But I feel that the arguments that people like Noam Chomsky and John Pilger have made are vindicated: Mainstream liberals are in their own way, just as big a part of the problem as mainstream conservatives.

I have discussed subjects such as the Iraq war extensively with conservatives. Pro-American ones always make excuses for any crime whatsoever that the Bush-team committed. And if there was no other way out of it, the conservatives excused Bush by saying that Saddam was worse.

Now we are seeing the exact same thing. Policies that were previously reviled are being trivialized, excused or ignored. And if all else fails, people argue that Bush was even worse.

But the thing is: If you look at it historically, the Republicans aren’t really that much more warmongering than the Democrats. The Korean war was mostly fought under an insane Democrat who seriously considered nuclear weapons. The Vietnam war really got into gear under Democrat Johnson. The “National Security Doctrine”, organizing Latin American death squads was concieved and implemented under Democrats. The insane explosion in military spending that happened under Reagan was merely following the budget that Carter had laid out. Clinton also wanted to attack Iraq, perpetrated terrorist attacks there, and laid siege to the country under false pretenses, something which killed a million or so. It literally makes me feel sick. I’d like Bush in the Hague, but he should have company. Bipartisan company.

The Democrats and the liberals serve the purpose of legitimizing this continual mass murder of innocents. It keeps happening and the underlying reasons are fundamental in US politics. And I remember an old quote: “The places where people truly suffer because of the empire, they can never tell the difference between a Republican or a Democrat.”

I fully admit that it is entirely possible that I may be committing a tactical error in urging people to vote Green or for pro-peace Democrats or Republicans.

But the tactics that I use would be for people to wisen up and realize that the same things are fundamentally wrong with both parties.

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Harry Truman never considered using nukes in Korea. In fact the idea of using nukes in Korea is the reason Douglas MacArtur was removed from command.

You really learn how to make your arguements more convincing. The language you’ve used about Americans in these posts, insane, kidnap, assassination, warmongering, are going to turn people off dramatically.

I stand by my earlier statement, especially after seeing your comment about mainstreams, you don’t want to change anything. You just want to be right and to use it to bludgeon others.

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Heksefatter said on November 11th, 2012 at 9:47 am

@Jason

Truman did consider using nukes. I am a bit hesitant to post links here, since I’ve seen them disappear because of some bug on the site or my computer just being a *bleep*. So I will instead give you what you need to find the story yourself.

Truman brought nukes to Korea and publically admitted that he had considered using them since the beginning of the war. Check the ‘American Experience’ on PBS, People & Events
The Korean War.’ The reason for MacArthur getting the boot was more about who had the authority to nuke.

As for language, I don’t mind calling Ronald Reagan’s nuclear buildup insane. Heck, MGK has talked about laughing or spitting Bush-admirers in the face in another post. That’s a good deal harsher, especially since that targets the ordinary people who have been conned by Bush, rather than Bush himself. As for the word “kidnap” and “assassination”, they are hardly harsher than “killing innocents”, which was a term MGK used in the starting post in this discussion. And given that John Seavey is using terms such as “rock stupid” and “ludicrously naive”, I hardly think that the calling Western governments on their crimes is nasty language in this context. As for my comments about mainstream, mainstream Republicans are routinely rubbished on this site, and as such mainstream liberals can get the same.

As for using it about Americans, it depends on what you mean. I have no problem calling Obama a terrorist or a murderer. But I would never rubbish the American people as such. Hell, my own country participated in the Iraq war, and our former prime minister became general secretary of NATO through his complicity in this mass murder of a million of innocents. That doesn’t mean that I despise Danes either, though I feel like screaming when I see the obsequious grovelling towards Obama that Danish liberals dish out. Same with France or Britain, two countries whose governments have long organized terrible crimes. I despise neither the French or the British.

As for my just wanting to be right rather than changing anything, on average I commit some hours a day to opposing the crimes that I have spoken of.

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to be blunt, I’m not accusing you of being all talk and no action, I’m saying you’re adopting positions that no one believes can succeed, and using self defeating phraseology for the purpose of having the moral high ground, no matter how many hours are put into it.

And on the subject of complicity in mass murder, when you’re dealing with authoritarian regimes you’re complicit either way, since allowing them to stay in power also results in the death of their citizens

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Drones

Your arguments are invalid

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Heksefatter said on November 11th, 2012 at 10:56 am

@Jason

You just said I did not want to change anything. As for my phraseology, I believe that it is extremely important that people such as Obama, Bush, Clinton, Blair, Fogh (Danish PM and current NATO gen. sec.) are called on their crimes.

Many liberals had no problem calling Bush a war criminal and an authoritarian and wanting him put on trial. I fail to see why directing the same accusations, backed up by evidence and conviction, against Obama, should be bad phraseology, especially considering that my language is a good deal softer than the one routinely directed against Bush et. al. on this site.

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Hypo-Calvinist said on November 11th, 2012 at 12:21 pm

@Heks

Sorry, I don’t know where they went, now. It was one from the NY Times (the center right paper which Republicans confuse with Pravda); one of Greenwald’s pieces, (from Salon I think, though it could have been the Guardian), and something else. I thought you had referenced them shortly after I posted them, but now I can’t find them either. Maybe they got filtered as spam, but I was sure they were displayed when I first posted them.

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Heksefatter said on November 11th, 2012 at 3:05 pm

@Hypo

I’ve had troubles with posts containing links disappearing and reappearing too. I confess my ignorance as to the explanation. Probably something to do with an evil duck, I guess.

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Tech guy here. Are these your two comments?

They had so many hyperlinks that a spam filter put them on hold. They’re back now.

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Hypo-Calvinist said on November 11th, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Yes, thanks.

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Heksefatter said on November 12th, 2012 at 2:35 am

Yes, thanks too.

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I ended up not voting. Why? Because I don’t believe in organized government, and also because I hated all the candidates and parties. Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green, despise them all.

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Hypo-Calvinist said on November 15th, 2012 at 8:58 pm

I don’t imagine anyone is still reading this given the lack of recent posts, but this was just too perfect.

From the Lawfare blog by Jack Goldsmith: Assistant Attorney General (Office of Legal Counsel) 2003-4, & Special Counsel to the DoD 2002-3.

http://www.lawfareblog.com/2012/11/counterterrorism-legal-policy-in-obamas-second-term/

A good boiling down of the argument of this hard right Bush administration Lawyer.

“The paradoxical bottom line: aggressive counterterrorism policies will, as a general matter, become more entrenched as a result of Obama’s election, compared to a Romney presidency.”

Of course, he thinks this is a good thing.

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Heksefatter said on November 16th, 2012 at 3:52 am

@Hypo

I was keeping an eye on this thread and I have to say that Goldsmith’s essay makes me shudder. Of course he’s absolutely right, which is something I hate to say about a Bush jr. assistant attorney general.

But in my view he’s buying into some of the false premises of the discussion. I doubt that Obama will close Guantanamo (or Guantanamo prison – I’m sure he will not close down the illegal military base the US military has there), because there’s absolutely no convinction behind Obama’s attempts to do so. And even if Obama does close it, so what? The prisoners will merely be moved to other legal limbos. And there’s still the matter of other secret prisons where torture and abuse is widespread. Allow me to quote from a couple of articles:

“Bagram is “the forgotten second Guantanamo,” says American military law expert Eugene Fidell, a professor at Yale Law School. “But apparently there is a continuing need for this sort of place even under the Obama administration.”

From the beginning, “Bagram was worse than Guantanamo,” says New York-based attorney Tina Foster, who has argued several cases on behalf of detainee rights in US courts. “Bagram has always been a torture chamber.”

And what does Obama say? Nothing. He never so much as mentions Bagram in any of his speeches. When discussing America’s mistreatment of detainees, he only refers to Guantanamo.”

….

“In my view, having visited Guantanamo several times, the Bagram facility made Guantanamo look like a nice hotel,” says military prosecutor Stuart Couch, who was given access to the interior of both facilities. “The men did not appear to be allowed to move around at will, they mostly sat in rows on the floor. It smelled like the “monkey house” at the zoo.”

From the beginning, Bagram was notorious for the brutal forms of torture employed there. Former inmates report incidents of sleep deprivation, beatings and various forms of sexual humiliation. In some cases, an interrogator would place his penis along the face of the detainee while he was being questioned. Other inmates were raped with sticks or threatened with anal sex.

Omar Khadr, a Canadian inmate who was 15 at the time, says military personal used him as a living mop. “Military police poured pine oil on the floor and on me. And then, with me lying on my stomach with my hands and feet cuffed together behind me, the military police dragged me back and forth through the mixture of urine and pine oil on the floor.”

(Qouted from Der Spiegel International, 09/21/2009 ‘The Forgotten Guantanamo Prisoner Abuse Continues at Bagram Prison in Afghanistan.’)

This has been confirmed by the BBC in 2010.

“Sher Agha and others we interviewed complained their cells were very cold.

“When I wanted to sleep and started shivering with cold I started reciting the holy Koran,” he said.

But sleep, according to the prisoners interviewed, is deliberately prevented in this detention site.

“I could not sleep, nobody could sleep because there was a machine that was making noise,” said Mirwais, who said he was held in the secret jail for 24 days.

“There was a small camera in my cell, and if you were sleeping they’d come in and disturb you,” he added. ”

“In the new jail, prisoners were being moved around in wheelchairs with goggles and headphones on.

The goggles were blacked out, and the purpose of the headphones was to block out all sound. Each prisoner was handcuffed and had their legs shackled.”

(Quoted from BBC 15/04/2010, ‘Afghans ‘abused at secret prison’ at Bagram airbase.’)

I paste the quotes without links for spam-filter reasons.

Do you know what the BBC-people are describing? Hardcore sensory deprivation torture. It doesn’t look brutal, but the CIA described in some interrogation instruction manuals how sensory deprivation was an extremely efficient technique of “coercive interrogation” (ie. torture), much more efficient than simple violence. The manuals even go so far to say that well-adjusted people are much more affected by sensory deprivation than psychopaths and the like.

(If you want to read the torture manuals as they are sometimes referred to, see the article ‘Prisoner Abuse: Patters from the Past’ at George Washington University’s National Security Archives).

These crimes, as well as the willfull ignorance that makes them possible, sometimes make me burn with rage.

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[...] know, there’s a strong argument against my refusal to vote, laid out by my friend Chris Bird here, but which boils down to “Mitt Romney was about eleventy billion orders of magnitude [...]

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