By David Swanson
I don’t care right now who you plan to vote for next November. My primary concern is that, after Tuesday, you strive to – as completely as possible – ignore the election until around Halloween, because we have so many much more important things to work on as citizens of this country, not the least of them being the creation of a credible system of hand-counted paper ballots and other election reforms. But my secondary concern is for the Democratic primaries. It’s important that you take part and cast your vote for Barack Obama. Come November, you can vote for McCain or Paul, Nader or McKinney, or your pet llama, or for the Democratic nominee. But it should be a high priority for all of us to ensure that the Democratic nominee is not Hillary Clinton.
Right-wing nuts who have not wised up a la Ann Coulter or Rupert Murdoch to how closely Clinton shares their nutty views should vote in the Democratic primaries if they can, and vote for Barack Obama. Why risk having the woman you consider the devil become president? Why waste your time in a Republican primary already guaranteed to nominate Mr. 100-More-Years-of-Iraqi-Liberation? Why not do everything you can to stop the favorite candidate of that communist rag, the New York Times?
Dead armadillos and other middle-of-the-roaders who understand Clinton’s corporate militaristic plans should vote for Obama instead, because he comes closer to Clinton’s agenda than any other candidate and stands a much better shot of winning the general election. The fact is that the general election will be all about Iraq. News from Iraq will compel this. McCain’s inability to talk about anything else will compel it. The corporate media’s belief that ultimately the public loves wars will compel it. And Hillary Clinton will never survive it. The video of the speech she made when voting to authorize the invasion, combined with video of speeches she’s made condemning the occupation will be enough to sink her. She’ll make John Kerry look like a model of decisiveness and consistency.
The vast majority of us, who oppose Clinton’s agenda of media conglomeration, corporate trade agreements, extended occupations and mercenary wars should vote for Obama because there is a chance that, with enough effort, we can turn him into something significantly better, and because even if we can never have any impact on him, he is already a significant cut above Clinton. The main reason we know that there is hope for Obama is that he wrote a good book before he wrote the primary pablum packed in “The Audacity of Hope.” The Obama book that’s worth reading is “Dreams from My Father,” a work of intelligence and kindness of the sort we have no record of Clinton ever producing.
But the lesson Obama teaches himself in that book is that his father failed to properly kiss up to those in power. We now see Obama doing just that. He wants us to all just get along, and he pretends there was a lovely age in the past in which we did. His first act in office was a refusal to challenge the election results from Ohio 2004. He didn’t give us NAFTA, but he has his heart set on keeping it in place. He wasn’t married to Bill Clinton, but he admires his middle of the roadism. He didn’t vote to authorize the invasion, but he voted over and over again to fund it, defends the appropriateness of war as an instrument of policy, refuses to forswear the policy of aggressive wars, and wants to make the world’s biggest military even bigger. He didn’t fall for the WMD lies, but he professes to believe in Bush’s good intentions and opposes impeachment.
Obama’s hopeless “Hope” book, while far more daring and honest than anything coming out of the Clinton camp, has a chapter on the Constitution that is written exactly as if we still had the whole thing intact. Obama admires Reagan and believes in cooperating with Republicans. He can describe the personal suffering of NAFTA’s victims and refuse to consider repealing it, suggesting that to do so would be a backward move against inevitable “globalization.” He can describe McCain’s amendment against torture as the easiest vote he’s made, and refuse to discuss Bush’s erasure of it with a signing statement. Obama refuses to commit to not using signing statements himself.
His proposals to address global warming are delusionally weak and limited. His analysis of the media’s influence on candidates is, like the media’s own coverage, devoid of any mention of which policies the media corporations favor. He thinks withdrawing “too quickly” from Iraq would make things worse. He can describe the joys of flying in private jets and never mention who owns them. He defends Bill Clinton’s elimination of welfare, claims blacks are 90 percent of the way to equality, and suggests that the response to Katrina had nothing to do with race.
But it’s possible that Obama has dumbed himself down to near Clintonian levels because he believes it’s the only way to get elected. And it’s possible that, even as his father’s son, once he is the ruler of the largest empire ever seen, he won’t need to do any more kissing up. It’s possible that, with enough pressure, he will listen to the demands of citizen activists. I didn’t say probable, just possible. And that’s not possible to even fantasize about with Hillary Clinton. There are few, if any, areas in which Clinton is not as bad as or significantly worse than Obama. She has a long record of horrible governance. She is guaranteed to be a disaster, as is the man she would lose to: John McCain.
In Louisiana when they had a KKKer running against a corrupt bureaucrat, bumper stickers read “Vote for the crook, it’s important.” I don’t advocate backing Obama because a bunch of his supporters believe he’s better than he is. And I don’t advocate believing he’s better than he is. But I will say this: Vote in the primaries on Tuesday for the corporate mediocrity with the charismatic and vacuous platitudes. It’s important.