Monday, November 05, 2012

You Can Vote For Anyone You Like. As Long As It's The Duopoly

UPDATED BELOW (and again)

Okay, a few last thoughts before the duopoly wins its next election tomorrow.

I supported Obama and voted for him in 2008.  His rhetoric and specific promises were inspiring.  But he's betrayed so much of that rhetoric, and so many of those promises, that I think it would be a mistake to reward him with a second term.  I'm not talking about being disappointed with a president who fails to fulfill his lofty promises, or who tries but fails to implement various changes because of an obstructionist Congressional opposition (the usual excuses trotted out for what isn't really the problem).  I'm talking about being outraged at a president who has in numerous key areas done the extreme opposite of what he promised.  Who promised a reversal of the Bush-era extremism and instead has deliberately entrenched and extended it.

Maybe, on balance, some of it I could live with, in exchange for other things.  But Obama has gone too far.  I simply cannot vote for a president who claims the power to have American citizens executed without due process.  It's not a question of lesser evils, of the other candidate being even worse.  I just can't imagine a more un-American, more unconstitutional, more tyrannical power than the power to have citizens executed without due process.  The power to have people imprisoned forever without charge, trial, or conviction would be up there, I guess, but of course Obama claims that, too.

So this unconstitutional assassination power is, for me, a political deal breaker.  I think Conor Friedersdorf made a compelling case for the "deal breaker" argument in the following Atlantic articles.

"Why I Refuse to Vote for Barack Obama"
"The Responses to 'Why I Refuse to Vote for Barack Obama'"

And don't worry, Friedersdorf has equally compelling reasons for "Why I Refuse to Vote for Mitt Romney."

Let's talk about concept of a political deal breaker for a moment.  It's not necessarily easy to understand if you're wedded to the "lesser of two evils" rubric by which most people vote.  So let me try a few hypotheticals:

"I wouldn't care if Obama himself ordered the mass waterboarding of terror suspects -- I'd still vote for him if I thought Romney would order the waterboarding of even more."

"I wouldn't care if I were certain Obama would unilaterally order a nuclear attack on Tehran -- I'd still vote for him if I thought Romney would unilaterally order a nuclear attack on Tehran and Damascus, too."

"I wouldn't care if Obama publicly promised to appoint nothing but hardcore pro-life Justices in the hope of overturning Roe v Wade -- I'd still vote for him over Romney because Romney is worse overall."

"I wouldn't care if Obama publicly promised to eliminate social security, repeal Medicare and Medicaid, and make homosexuality illegal -- I'd still vote for him if Romney seemed marginally worse on these issues and/or worse overall."

"I wouldn't care if Obama turned out to be a serial child molester -- I'd still vote for him if Romney had molested or might molest even more children."

If you're comfortable with the statements above, you might have a hard time understanding how anyone could have a political deal breaker -- a line which, if a politician crosses it, makes it impossible to vote for that politician no matter what.  But if you can't agree with one or more of the statements above, then even if your own potential deal breakers are different, maybe you can understand why some liberals have decided they just can't vote for Obama, even though yes, Romney would likely be worse.

Now, you can argue that the power to have citizens executed is being used rarely and judiciously.  But that just means you're okay with the president assuming tyrannical powers as long as he uses them only rarely and judiciously.  And that's just crazy.  Not least because, if Romney wins on Tuesday, those powers will be his, and what are you going to do at that point, argue that Democrats you like have the power to assassinate American citizens but Republicans you don't like don't?

And for anyone inclined to parrot Eric Holder's infamous argument that "due process," as required by the Fifth Amendment before the government can lawfully deprive someone of "life, liberty, and property," doesn't mean "judicial due process," I think Stephen Colbert has put that claim permanently to rest.

I know it seems peculiar to a lot of people, but I just can't vote for a president who claims -- and who has exercised -- what strikes me as the ultimate tyrannical power, just because he seems like a nice fellow and after all, has only used that power a few times, and always only against brown people anyway.  I can't.  It's too much.  There has to be a line, and if it's not "The president can order citizens killed if he thinks they need killing," I don't know what it is.

Judging from experience, I'm guessing most of the comments I get in response to this post will be of the "But then you're supporting Romney!" variety.  A few thoughts about that.

First, have a look at these Obama endorsements from The New York Times and The New Yorker.  Not only do they distort what Obama did in Iraq (he didn't keep "his" promise to get America out; he stuck to the timetable negotiated by his predecessor, and only after trying to squirm out of it and extend America's stay there); with regard to Guantanamo (Obama never tried to "close" Guantanamo; he merely tried to move it to Illinois); and regarding torture (Obama's prohibition of torture is hardly praiseworthy.  Torture is illegal and the president has no more power to prohibit it than he does to permit it.  By refusing to prosecute torture, Obama has simply solidified the bipartisan consensus that torture is a policy choice, not a crime. Obama doesn't seem to want to use torture himself, but he's guaranteed that his successors may avail themselves if they choose -- as Romney has indicated he will).  They also ignore his stunning record on civil liberties, which as the ACLU has noted is at least as bad as George W. Bush's, his stated willingness to cut Social Security even more than Republicans were demanding, and other depredations.

Reading these endorsements, I found myself wondering what the Times and New Yorker would have done had McCain won in 2008 and implemented the exact same set of policies for which these publications now praise Obama  -- that is, if the last four years of White House policies and action had been exactly the same, except that the president would have been McCain rather than Obama.  My guess?  Were President McCain running for reelection today, the exact policies these publications praise in Obama would have been ignored, subjected to grudging acknowledgment, or even attacked.  Healthcare reform?  Nothing but a handout to the insurance industry, and an outrage upon the 40 million lower-income Americans who will now be forced to become customers of the giant insurers!  Libya?  An unconstitutional war and a clear violation of the War Powers Resolution!  Etc.  And the exact policies these publications choose to ignore in Obama would have been a attacked, too.  Imagine, for example, if it were a president McCain running an imperial drone war throughout South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, and executing American citizens without due process.  Either way, though, naturally the publications would have us believe this is the Most Important Election Ever, even though in my thought experiment the last four years would have been identical in every way except for the name of the occupant of the White House.  Just swap in the Republican for the Democrat (or vice versa) and keep the policies the same, and every establishment media outlet in the country would, with equal vigor, endorse the opposite of what it endorses today.  Most voters would do the same.  As though the politician is what matters, not the policies.

But won't Romney be an absolute disaster, you say?  Don't we have to hold our nose and vote the lesser of two evils?

Maybe.  But tell me this.  Has there ever been an election where this wasn't true?  All the way back to Eisenhower.  Has there ever been a presidential election that wasn't billed as a choice between a suboptimal candidate, on the one hand, and the apocalypse, on the other?  That billing is never going to change.  If you want to vote for something better, I doubt there will ever be a better time than the present.

It's strange how "hope and change" has become, "Vote for me, or I turn those Supreme Court appointments over to Romney." That's not a progressive platform; it's a hostage taking.  And we all know what happens when you give in to hostage takers.  That's right, more hostages.

My own attitude?  "I don't care who you threaten to turn over the country to.  Cross certain lines, and I won't vote for you no matter what."  It's the same as a negotiation.  If you're not willing to walk away, and especially if you demonstrate that unwillingness to the other party, you will be taken for a long, unpleasant ride.

If Obama loses tomorrow, a lot of people will blame voters like me.  I really don't understand that attitude.  Look, I'm not going to blame you if Jill Stein or Gary Johnson doesn't win.  I could, of course -- if you'd voted for them, they could have won!  But overall, I think the blame for a loss lies with the defeated politician, don't you?  Aren't politicians supposed to court voters' support, not just count on it?  So if Obama loses, and it's because he's alienated his base with his outrageous policies and his obvious disdain, it's not his base's fault.  It's his fault.  It's worse than crazy to suggest otherwise.  It's a bizarre kind of learned helplessness.

In fact, I think voting in accordance with political deal breakers is more morally defensible than voting according to a "lesser of two evils" approach.  If everyone votes for the lesser of two evils, we keep getting… more evil.  If everyone votes for something better, we get… something better.  Or at least the chance of it.  "Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law."  So if Kant was right, and the morality of an action can be determined by asking, "If everyone did this thing, would the world get better, or worse?", voting for the merely less evil candidate is hard to justify.  I'd like to see "vote for a candidate you can genuinely support" become a universal law.  "Vote for the less evil candidate"… not so much.

If you don't agree, consider this.  Today's Democratic candidate.  The progressive standard bearer.  The champion of the left.  Is the man who has done the following.  Not because he inherited a mess from Bush.  Not because Republicans in Congress obstructed his noble efforts.  Nothing caused Obama to pursue and implement these policies other than his own character and political calculations.

How many people who voted for Obama four years ago because they hoped for a better future will vote for him now because they're afraid of a worse one?  Do you think that's progress?  Who is to blame for that change?  And should the politician to blame be rewarded?  What would such a reward signal to other politicians about how seriously they need to take the concerns of their base?

If you demonstrate to a politician that you'll vote for him no matter what, you'll get… no matter what.  And Obama has taken "no matter what" to previously unheard-of levels for progressives.  If they reward him at the polls, the next "progressive" politician can be counted on to offer a double helping.

I recommend voting for something better.  Either Jill Stein of the Green Party, or Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party.

Don't let the duopoly make you believe you have no choice.  You do.  Unless you convince yourself you don't.


I should have predicted that because I can't vote for Obama based on his Constitutional abuses, I'd get accused of some form of racism and misogyny -- because hey, if you do care about the Constitution, it must mean you *don't* care about Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, or reproductive rights.  Have a look in the comments to this post; it's happening on Twitter, too.

Not only are these barely-veiled accusations of racism and misogyny self-indulgent, they're also illogical.

First, have a look at the attached article about Obama's impact on women of color.  I've linked to it already, but --shockingly, I know -- my accusers don't seem interested in reading it.

Second, consider that Obama is hardly the champion of, for example, Social Security and Medicare many people want to believe he is.  Again, an article I've already linked to that people seem not to want to read.

Next, if it were true that my political priorities were driven entirely or even significantly by my privileged-white-maleness, why would I even give a damn about Obama's civil liberties depredations in the first place?  They don't affect me personally.  I don't expect to be detained at Guantanamo, prosecuted for whistle blowing, or assassinated by drone.  And why am I vocally opposed to America's policy of drug prohibition (again, read the linked article on how Obama has stepped up that war)?  The drug war disproportionately affects minority groups -- indeed, at least arguably, it is deliberately aimed at them.  As a Privileged White Male (PWM), it has little to do with me.  And yet I'm vocal about the insanity and injustice of the drug war.

How did civil liberties get positioned as a PWM issue?  Are women and lower-income people unaffected by civil liberties abuses?  Aren't civil liberties issues that affect *everyone*, lower-income minority goups most of all?

My public support for gay equality is another one that's hard for me to understand.  After all, I'm not gay, and I am married.  I'm just a straight, PWM.  Why would I give a damn about something that doesn't affect me personally?  I dunno.  Maybe gay is the new PWM.

There are a few ways I can explain the illogic and incoherence of people who accuse me of refusing to vote for Obama because I'm a PWM.  There's the pleasure of dudgeon and self-righteousness, of course.  And the relaxation that comes with not having to think.  But I sense there's something more going on.

The position of the PMW reductionists is so illogical, I have to conclude it's driven by projection.  That is, the PMW reductionists themselves vote purely or at least significantly on their race and gender, and therefore assume this must be true of everyone else, too.  How else to explain someone who gives not a thought to the women and children decimated in Obama's drone wars, and by his increasingly brutal strangulation of Iran by sanctions?  And who argues that anyone who *is* concerned about those women and children is being selfish and self-centered?

A public service message to the PMW reductionists:  it's possible for someone to not share your politics and yet still be driven by conscience.  It's possible to oppose Obama for reasons other than indifference to women, minorities, and the disadvantaged (I would argue in fact that Obama is on balance a disaster for those groups -- again, see the linked articles -- but leave that aside).

I know presidential elections are heated and often bring out the worst in people.  But veiled accusations of racism and misogyny, because someone disagrees with your politics?  That's pathetic.  I hope we can do better.


Two more terrific articles on topic:

Election Day 2012: It's the Day After That Matters, by Falguni A. Sheth (same woman who wrote the article I keep linking to but that some people have yet to read)

The S&M Election, by Chris Hedges


pathman said...

Nice summary Mr. Eisler. You will of course be pilloried. But I'm with you. I voted for Jill Stein.

elias said...

I'd like to thank you for introducing me to Glenn Greenwald's writing. I came across you when my curiosity about ebook publishing led me to Joe Konrath's blog, and though I haven't actually read any of your novels yet, they're on my list (I did watch the film version of Rain Fall).

I used to largely ignore politics and what was going on in the world because I always felt the information I had access to was completely corrupted by the parties presenting it. Now I feel like I have a better idea of what's really going on than I ever have, and I want to do something about it. I just put up a blog post with a message very similar to the one you present here here, even linking many of the same articles you have above.

So, thank you for helping me find some rational voices in the world illuminating what's really happening.

Peter L. Winkler said...

I am in complete accord with you. I voted third party for exactly the reasons you have provided.

Brad Adams said...

I think what you've written in the blog post is reasonable, but I'm not sure about a person with one vote having political deal-breakers. You're not involved in a negotiation, you're making a vote.

I know people who have "supporter of abortion" as a deal-breaker. They vote for pro-life candidates in federal elections (it's a state issue in Australia) even if the policies of 'pro-life' candidates will put more women in untenable situations where they will consider having an abortion.

Your position is much more sophisticated than that, but I think it shows how the concept of a political deal-breaker can go astray.

On the issue of Obama specifically, I never thought he would be what people expected him to be. Looking over from the other side of the Atlantic, American foreign policy seems to be the same from administration to administration. What does change is domestic policy. Even then, a President can only do what Congress allows.

I know you know more about it than do - I follow Australian politics far more closely than I do American - but those are my thoughts on your post.

manitoujoe said...

Nailed it. Nicely done.

Unknown said...

If everyone voted for their favorite candidate, the election would have more than two 'real' candidates. FPTP does not function properly when there are more than two candidates.

Granted, even random results might be better than the two party system, but it's a moot point. Most people vote strategically, and that isn't going to change.

Things will only get better if we change the voting system. I'm a fan of approval voting myself, but pretty much anything is better than FPTP.

Rob Cornell said...

So basically we're screwed. Because this two-party lock on the US government is never going to change. In fact, it's only getting worse with each election.

I would love to support the Green Party and see their candidate win the presidency. I'd also like to find a million dollars in my bank account tomorrow morning. Ain't going to happen.

Thus, as Douglass Cantrell mentions, I'm forced to vote strategically. I'll be damned if I support Mitt Romney, even tangentially by voting for a candidate that has zero chance of winning.

Dale T. Phillips said...

Thank you for stating it so well. When I try to explain this view, people get angry-- or just don't get it. Voting for the lesser of two evils is still a vote for evil. I cannot support a candidate who ignores the law and the Constitution, who thinks torture is a policy decision, and who commits war crimes against civilians. We're screwed either way with "our" two choices, but folks, they're not the only choices!
If someone demands you choose whether to get hit in the head or knee with a crowbar, why pick either? Maybe you'll still get hit, but you didn't accept it.

Jacklyn Cornwell said...

And let us not forget that Obama plans to extend/has extended due process to terrorist held in Guantanamo Bay, due process that is guaranteed by the Constitution for American citizens, and is now revoked in favor of execution with trial.

Bonnie McDaniel said...

I must point out that you, as a relatively well-off white male, have little to fear from the repercussions (probable overturning of Roe v. Wade, turning Medicare into a voucher system, block-granting Medicaid) that would likely occur under a Romney administration.

Me personally, I can't trade away the women, minorities, and elderly people of America so lightly.

David Kazzie said...

Mr. Eisler,

Your argument is so breathtakingly shortsighted and truly naive as to how politics works that I don't even know where to begin.

What about the people who will die because of the repeal of Obamacare? That's not an opinion --it's a fact. People will die.

All I hear from you and most of the commenters are vague concerns about due process, an issue that many learned scholars have wrestled with for decades. Just because YOU think due process means something doesn't make it actually so.

Instead, your non-vote for Obama is now a vote for Romney, who will most certainly continue the very policies that you detest, will almost certainly lead us into another destruvtive war, all at the expense of the help that Obama's administration has brought forth.

Barry Eisler said...

Thanks for the thoughts everyone.

Unknown, glad you're reading Greenwald. Best political and media commentary anywhere.

JM, I'm not sure what you mean when you say, "Obama plans to extend/has extended due process to terrorist held in Guantanamo Bay." If you could provide a link, I'd be grateful.

As for, "due process that is guaranteed by the Constitution for American citizens," well, yes, but not only to citizens. See in particular the Fifth Amendment, which reads, "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

Not "no citizen;" rather, "no person."

Barry Eisler said...

Bonnie said:

"I must point out that you, as a relatively well-off white male, have little to fear from the repercussions (probable overturning of Roe v. Wade, turning Medicare into a voucher system, block-granting Medicaid) that would likely occur under a Romney administration."

You know what I really wish you felt you "must" do, Bonnie? I wish you felt you must be a little more careful about educating yourself and applying just a modicum of thought before reflexively, self-righteously, and incoherently accusing someone of being a borderline racist and misogynist.

First, here's one of the links I included in my post, a link you obviously didn't bother reading.

Have you read it now? Good. Is the reason you're so complacent about Obama's drone wars the fact that they don't affect you personally? Well, I'm shocked that you have so little regard for the lives and welfare of women of color, Bonnie. Appalled, even. I guess you can afford not to care. How fortunate for you.

Are we having fun yet?

Hey, here's another link to an article you didn't bother to read. Obama wants to *cut* Medicare. Not save it. Not preserve it. Cut it. Pay attention.

Have you read it now? Good. But you support Obama, anyway? Golly, by your own argument, that must mean you're indifferent to the welfare of lower-income Americans. Shame on you, Bonnie! The callousness of it all! Oh, the humanity!

Hey, I like this "disagree with someone's politics, accuse them of racism and misogyny" game. It's fun. Thanks for showing me how to play it. [continued]

Barry Eisler said...

[continued from above] Just one thing I'm not quite clever enough to understand, though, and I'm hoping maybe you can help me figure it out. As a privileged white male who doesn't give a shit about any policies that won't affect me personally -- I mean, I don't even care if they'll affect my sister, my wife, or my daughter, that just comes with the blinkered, privileged white male territory -- why is it I care so much about Obama's civil liberties depredations, which directly affect me not at all and which are aimed almost entirely at Muslims and other people of color? I mean, I just wrote a whole article about why I can't vote for Obama because of his claimed and exercised power to execute citizens without due process. Is that because, in my stunning selfishness, I'm secretly worried that Obama might send a drone over to my Bay Area home and assassinate me? I just can't figure out why I'm so concerned about these issues that don't seem to directly affect me. So help me out, Bonnie, you seem to have a pretty good handle on just how selfish and self-centered I am, and I'm depending on you for more of your exceptionally impressive insights.

"Me personally, I can't trade away the women, minorities, and elderly people of America so lightly."

Sure you can, Bonnie. By your own argument, you just did. You obviously don't give a shit about the thousands of civilians -- men, women, and children, most of them poor, many of the adults elderly, and almost all of them brown -- who've been killed in Obama's drone wars, their families devastated, the survivors' futures destroyed. And you don't give a shit that Medicare (Social Security, too) will be cut as long as it's Obama who's doing the cutting. You traded away all those lives not just lightly, but without even a passing thought. I guess you didn't have time to consider all those lives because you were too focused on scoring a cheap, stupid, self-pleasuring point on the Internet.

Next time you want to publicly indulge your sweet sense of moral superiority by insinuating someone's a racist and misogynist, Bonnie, why don't you have a look at the beam in your own eye first. It won't be nearly as much self-righteous fun, but you might learn something from it. Good luck.

Barry Eisler said...

David said:

"Your argument is so breathtakingly shortsighted and truly naive as to how politics works that I don't even know where to begin."

I hate when that happens.

"What about the people who will die because of the repeal of Obamacare? That's not an opinion --it's a fact. People will die."

Well, it's true it's a fact that people will die. By the way, can you please help ban the dangerous chemical Dihydrogen Monoxide?

But they'll die because of a possible repeal of Obamacare? That's speculation -- otherwise known as an opinion. It should probably concern you that you seem not to be able to distinguish between a fact and an opinion. That's pretty basic stuff.

Anyway, regarding your opinion that people will die because of a speculated repeal of Obamacare, I don't know enough to say (I have a strong feeling you don't, either, and this is probably one critical difference between us). I do know that most of Obamacare doesn't even kick in until 2014. Here's a link for you (it's sad -- the Internet puts all this information at our fingertips, but people still act as though to do a little research, they'd have to travel all the way to the Library of Alexandria or something).

If you want me to take your argument seriously, why not offer a cite or two to the number of people who are dying right now because of the absence of Obamacare, and to the projected number who will avoid dying because of Obamacare when it kicks in in 2014? Then offer a few thoughts comparing the numbers of people ObamaCare will save vs the number of people ObamaDrones will kill, the numbers a repeal of ObamaCare will likely kill… that kind of thing. It's probably a better way to persuade someone than charging in, breathlessly accusing him of shortsightedness and naiveté… and then demonstrating that you don't even understand the difference between a fact and an opinion.

"All I hear from you and most of the commenters are vague concerns about due process, an issue that many learned scholars have wrestled with for decades. Just because YOU think due process means something doesn't make it actually so."

Hmm, I hadn't considered that. But now that you mention it, I realize that indeed, just because *I* think something doesn't make it so. Thank you for freeing me from that misapprehension. It's been clouding my reason for years.

Still, it was weird to read your dismissal of all other attempts to grapple with what due process means (did you even watch the Colbert video?), without troubling yourself to offer any thoughts of your own. Does due process just mean whatever the president says it means? Is it just a trivial technicality citizens shouldn't concern themselves with unduly? Why does the Constitution mention due process at all? It's hard to tell what you think because you've revealed… well, no thinking.

"Instead, your non-vote for Obama is now a vote for Romney…"


"...who will most certainly continue the very policies that you detest…"

"Continue" perhaps being the operative word.

"...will almost certainly lead us into another destructive war…"

God, I hope he doesn't attack Libya. Oh wait, that was the Nobel Peace Laureate.

"...all at the expense of the help that Obama's administration has brought forth."

Relieved to see that, in the end, we have to try to balance the costs and the benefits, however we see them.

1729 said...

Chris Matthews just gave me some last-minute inspiration and pride for my vote for Jill Stein (not that I needed it! still very generous):!

He's really stoked.. if you look closely you can see the flecks of foam at the corners of his mouth

JA Konrath said...

Rocky Anderson, the Justice Party!

I've been told I'm throwing away my vote. But if no one tries to change things, nothing will change. So I'll be a minority voting for ideals I agree with, and hope eventually people will start paying attention.

JA Konrath said...

And don't get me started on the electoral college. Democracy? Nope.

1729 said...

David Kazzie: You've employed two very familiar tactics among pro-Obama voters:

(1) Comparing hypothetical deaths (from Obamacare repeal) vs real ones (1000+ civilians in rural Pakistan and other ME locations, from Obama's drone strikes)

(2) Trivializing or dismissing deadly serious issues -- describing as 'vague concerns about due process' urgent and specific concerns about unprecedented assaults on our Bill of Rights, including but not limited to the right to a trial before execution. (Eric Holder: "The Constitution guarantees due process; it does not guarantee judicial process.")

pathman said...

Mr. Eisler, those were some very well done take downs of those comments. It reminds me to have actual facts and use logic in arguments. Imagine that? Knife to a gunfight and all that. Bravo!

Barry Eisler said...

Thanks again for all the comments, everyone. If you're interested, I've updated the post with a few more thoughts and links.

William Ockham said...

I mostly agree with Eisler's criticisms of Obama and I applaud his decision not to vote for him. But I voted for Obama.

I'm a middle-aged white guy living in a wealthy suburb of Houston, Texas. Because I am a committed pacifist and socialist, I'll never get to vote for anyone who represents my views. I choose to vote based on my judgment of how my vote will get us closer to a world more like the one I want. In my view, one more vote for the Democratic party from my precinct will do more good than my vote for a third-party candidate or not voting in the presidential contest.

On the other hand, I believe we need people like Barry Eisler to stand up to the duopoly, especially on the issues he discusses in the post. Eisler can do more good, in my view, by not voting for Barack Obama. The world is a complicated place. I could be wrong. But everyone should respect people with honest views, honestly held, even if the views seem abhorrent to you. You don't have agree with someone or respect their views to respect the person who thinks things through rather than blindly accept their environmental default choices.

Anonymous said...

I went to Jill Stein's website and checked her out. Unfortunately, though her overall platform does sound good, most of it has no chance in hell of being enacted, even if by some miracle she were to be elected.

So I have a question for you, JA Konrath, Glenn Greenwald and anyone else who basically says "a pox on both your houses." Are you personally willing to put in the years--and most likely decades--of work needed at the local, state and national level to transform the Green Party (or whichever third party you pick) into a viable national party?

Sure, vote for them in the meantime. But it seems to me that if you don't put in the work as well, all your complaining won't mean much.

elias said...

Just wanted to apologize for showing up as "Unknown." : ) When I saw that I attempted to fix it in my profile but the change doesn't seem to be showing up here.

Barry Eisler said...

f295, your argument comes down to "If you're not willing to do anything, you might as well do nothing. Because just doing something doesn't count."

Am I misunderstanding you? It seems like you're arguing that unless I'm personally willing to put in the years of creating a viable third party, it's pointless to vote for a third party. That makes no sense to me.

I think people should do what they can. If I can't donate $500 to the ACLU, does it mean I shouldn't donate $50? If I can't personally cure cancer, should I not bother supporting cancer research? To what other areas of life are you in favor of applying your philosophy?

Anonymous said...

If you'll notice, I did say "Vote for them in the meantime." (And sorry for that string of numbers--I don't know what AOL and AIM are doing today.)

I think that voting for a party and working for them should go hand in hand. I both voted for Obama and am working for local Democrats. (And if he does try again for a Grand Bargain, assuming he gets reelected, I assure you I will raise hell over it. I tend to think he's learned his lesson, but of course we'll have to see.) In the case of the Greens, the vote is certainly a start, but without the work added to it, you're pretty much spinning your wheels for the foreseeable future.

I would just have a little more respect for your (and Konrath's and Greenwald's) position if you were both voting and actively working for your third party of choice. (If you've done that in the past and I missed it, I apologize.)

cumulus said...

Mr. Obama took an oath of office to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the U.S. The moment he violated that oath he lost my support.

I swore a similar oath when I enlisted in the military and later when I volunteered for the Peace Corps. The Constitution is not a pipe dream. It is a living document on which our nation was built. Without it, we are no longer a nation of laws.

I voted for Jill Stein. Rocky Anderson had a better platform but he isn't registered in every state. It didn't matter whether or not Stein's platform had any chance of being enacted. It's the presentation of an alternative to what we now experience.

It is a shame that in the debates, only two political parties were admitted. This gave no one the opportunity to see a better way to govern.

James Goetz said...

Hi Barry,

I hope all is well.

May I ask tough questions?

I am curious about the extent of your deal breaker concept. In your case, since President Obama has ordered the execution of American citizen without due process of the law, you call that a deal breaker. You refused to vote for Obama regardless that you thought he was less evil than Romney. Does your deal breaker concept end with not voting for Obama or do you you refuse any cooperation Obama? And what is your view of possibly working with supporters of a President that orders the execution of citizens without due process?



ryan field said...

I get it :)

Kolohejr said...

Aloha Mr. Eisler,
You went from a PWM to a PMW. Why the change?

Thank you for everything. I have read just about everything you have published. What's next?
Russ B.
Honolulu, HI

P.S. Yes, it's supposed to be a joke. I appreciated your thoughts on the election for Commander in Chief and took everything into consideration. You helped me make a truly Selfish choice. Something not everyone has the opportunity to do.

A.Rosaria said...

A system based on corruption, no matter how little initially, will eventually transform into a cesspool of it. That's why it's no wonder politicians become what they are under such a system.

As long people don't see that it's the governments are the main problem, things will stay like they are and there will not be any real change.

Voting does exactly nothing beneficial. Each new voting will produce a new "leader" that will be a little more worse.

Kriley said...

Thanks for the great post Barry. In the past I’ve usually voted for a third party but this year I voted for Romney. Sure Gary Johnson’s views were more in line with mine but I voted for Romney specifically to try to get rid of Obama. It wasn’t so much a vote for the “lesser of two evils” as it was a vote for firing Obama.

Matt J said...

This, of course, is long after the election has been over, but just a comment that your stance on Obama falls in line perfectly with the black-and-white, my-way-or-the-highway attitude of the current Republican party. There is no room for meeting in the middle in their world; the world is black and white, Absolute Good versus Absolute Evil. This attitude masks the fact that most of them (though not all) are in the pockets of big business. They are attempting to suppress voter rights, worker rights, union rights, labor laws, environmental laws, and human rights (which you rightly say Obama has done nothing to change). You talk about what is the "deal breaker" for you; well, all these things are deal breakers for me. The Koch brothers and other corporate interests will not stop until they have their plutocracy, but I, for one, aim to stop them. Sorry, but the world truly is made up of shades of grey (not merely black and white) and there are such things as the Lesser of Two Evils and The Greatest Good for the Greatest Number. Obama's lack of action on human rights issues may be abhorrent, but believe me the Republicans are only too happy to hear that it affected your vote. Oh, and the Government is Evil and Big and has a hand in every pocket, but please ignore those corporate big-wigs behind the curtain! There's nothing to see there!