Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Honeymoon Is Over

As I've complained before, it's hard to escape from the toxic deluge of political propaganda; while blocking my Tabloid Friend's news feed on Facebook stemmed part of the flood, others have stepped up the pace of memes.  It's like running below a power line on which hundreds of pigeons are sitting, and trying to dodge their, um, discourse.

I think I detect a slight increase of "lesser evil" memes like the one above; I suppose it only is getting passed along because it doesn't actually use those fateful words.  President Obama is not the lesser evil, he's a positive and unadulterated good!  Anyone who disagrees is a stealth Republican, a radical leftist purist on Mount Disdain who secretly wants Romney to win!

By this criterion the Obama administration is clearly a secret rightwing group helping the Republicans win this election, since their policies, actions, and words have disillusioned so many of the idealistic people who voted for him in 2008. What Obama's Democratic and left critics want is not a Republican president -- let alone the Almighty -- but a Democratic President who'll do the job he was elected to do, instead of pandering to and appeasing an imaginary rightist "center."

I voted for Obama in 2008, and I may very well vote for him again this year, for a simple reason: voting is trivial. I think Obama himself has done more damage to the "more and better Democrats" line than any other single person. People now realize that voting won't get them what they need or want, certainly not from the Democrats. Some give up in apathy or despair, and that's Obama's fault, not the fault of vastleft. Others look to activism, and that's good news. If anyone were to ask me, I'd recommend that they vote for Obama, and then criticize him relentlessly, and get involved in activism if they can.

There's one very useful outcome of voting for Obama: his cultists are too stupid and vicious to answer any criticisms. They simply reply with "You must have voted for McCain!" or "You must wish McCain had won!" or "You want the Republicans to win this election!" They evidently believe that no one has any right to criticize their God-king, but it's mild fun to watch their heads try to explode at the impossible notion that someone could vote for Barack and yet not adore him absolutely. It really has nothing to do with the outcome of elections: they'll be the same even after Obama has been re-elected and the Democrats retain Congress in 2014. Obama's attack dogs are also working against Obama and the Democrats by trying to impose Fuhrerprinzip and total ideological conformity -- people do not like idiots trying to bully them like that -- so they are obviously Republican moles themselves.

When I posted most of the above in comments at Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy, responding to an anonymous Obama cultist who accused VastLeft of being a Republican agent because he had dared to criticize Elizabeth Warren, an Obama critic chided me: "That's the political equivalent of yelling 'Stop! Or I'll say stop again!'  If your vote is unconditional then no politician has any reason to listen to what you say."  Another protested, "Speaking for myself, if my vote is basically meaningless, I'll at least use it to voice my principles and protest the sham democracy we supposedly have."  To which I replied:

Oh, by all means! I don't disagree with that choice at all. It's just not what I expect to do this year.

I've often seen If your vote is unconditional then no politician has any reason to listen to what you say. It isn't totally wrong, but it overlooks some things. One is that no politician, at the national level at least, will pay any attention to what I say anyhow. If the Democrats lose in the upcoming election, they will use the loss as an excuse to move even farther to the right. Voting really doesn't send much of a message by itself.

A lot of progressives have pointed out that Democrats were much more likely to oppose wars, torture, the surveillance state, and loss of civil liberties when a Republican was in office, but when Obama was elected the opposition dried up. This has some truth to it, but the Democratic opposition to Bush was pretty ineffectual, and even when the Dems regained control of Congress in 2006 they didn't do much. There were some nice big protests against Bush's invasion of Iraq, but they didn't prevent the war, and once the war got underway, they lost momentum (in the US anyway). Obama and Clinton never opposed the Iraq war in any meaningful way; I hear Clinton now regrets her vote in its favor, boo hoo hoo. Her penance: to become Secretary of State and continue Bush's foreign policy. Obama's ... well, we all know how he suffers.

So, vote (or don't), as you wish. I won't condemn you whatever you choose in that regard. It's only thinking that a vote by itself is meaningful. What's needed is organized pressure, so that withholding votes will be meaningful. Whoever is in office must be pressured, whether you voted for him or not, because every politician will sell out his or her base after the election's won.  As I've pointed out before, Obama's corporate supporters and donors knew this very well, and kept the heat on throughout the election and afterward.

From the way Dem loyalists freak out when their man is criticized, I believe that there's some value in criticizing him even after I've voted for their party. If they don't care what I think as long as they have my vote, why are they so furious at critics like me?  They don't just want a guaranteed vote, they want guaranteed lockstep party discipline.  That includes Obama himself, who has been openly contemptuous of people who voted for him but criticize him anyway. I don't believe that's only because he assumes he has their vote no matter what he does; he hates them for criticizing him. Obama cultists (like Gore cultists in 2000) throw tantrums if you tell them you'll vote Democratic as the lesser evil. I think there's something useful in working on that fury. Maybe I'm wrong. Yell at me if you like; I'm used to being yelled at. But these are questions that need to be asked.

Someone (all the commenters I've quoted here posted anonymously) actually replied:
Have never seen this. Not even once. Hell, LOTE is practically their campaign motto this year. So then, given your other premise that an individual's vote is of no consequence in and of itself, it would seem that there's no reason to vote Democratic whatsoever.
I'm not the only one (via) who's seen Democratic loyalists going berserk if you say you'll vote for their man as the Lesser of Two Evils.  I myself first encountered the syndrome in 2000, when a gay Democrat blew up at me for saying so about Al Gore and Joe Lieberman, not the most inspiring candidates the Dems have ever floated.  I've seen it often since then, and I expect to see it often this fall.  I see it after someone has effectively argued the lesser-evil case (He's not Bush!), and I've said I'll vote for the Dem as the lesser evil -- that's when the spittle starts flying.

I'd quibble that it's not my "premise" that "an individual's vote is of no consequence," it's my conclusion from watching Obama's first term and talking to his cult.  But as I said before, if someone doesn't want to vote for Obama, they shouldn't.  I think there is a reason to vote Democratic, which I explained at some length.  I suppose I could vote for someone else, or not cast a vote for the President, and say I had voted for Obama, but I'm not good at lying.

I'm also wary of the belief (declared several times in the comment thread) that a Romney victory would be, if not a good thing, then a lesser evil, because there would be more organized opposition to a Republican president.  I've had enough of lesser evils, and as I said earlier, the actual opposition probably wouldn't achieve much -- at most a few holding actions, like the Bush Supreme Court nominations that the Democrats blocked.

In any case, voting will not bring about change by itself: it's what we do after we vote, and after the results are in, that counts.  It isn't surprising that party loyalists can't wrap their fine minds around the idea that a person could vote for their candidate and still criticize him or her; what surprises me is how many of Obama's critics on the left evidently can't grasp it either.  That, I think, is the main reason there's been so little opposition to Obama among liberals and progressives and even the left: having voted for him, they belong to him.  They don't, and they should stop acting as though they do.