Every time I write an opinion critical of Mitt Romney or the Republican Party, someone inevitably comes after me in a comment or in an email and suggests that President Obama is worthless, as if my criticism of Romney serves as an endorsement of Obama, his policies or his campaign. My views are left-leaning, yes, but also since election season now lasts for about 3 of the 4 years of a Presidential term, nearly every partisan is always in campaign mode. They will attack their adversary and never consider saying a negative word about their guy, so to speak, and so because I am attacking Gov. Romney, I must be an unflinching supporter of Obama.
I detest Governor Romney, the platform of the Republican Party, and many of its representative politicians. I hate spin and hypocrisy, and the GOP is overstuffed with both. I hate that their policies are anti-woman and anti-gay, and that it often serves as the shelter for many folks who need an ideological house for the racist feelings having an African American president stirs within them.
Conversely, I very much like President Obama. I enjoy his charisma, that he is unabashedly intelligent and educated, and that he has that stupid Portuguese Water Dog. I like that his wife is bad ass, and that they are both bold activists. I like him because he seems to have a sense of humor and it appears that he is a good sport. And I like him because people hate him for stupid reasons and I am my father’s son like that.
But I am troubled by the fact that President Obama suffers from some profoundly startling flaws that are beyond worth addressing, though, due to the aforementioned Perpetual Campaign Season, self-identified progressives never get around to identifying them.
In a piece that was funny in most of the places it intended to be but serves up a relatively dumb message, Floyd Elliot writes to his “progressive friends” who insist that they won’t vote for President Obama:
First off, let’s, as Plato or perhaps those kids on The Real World used to say, get real: either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney will be president come January 20, 2013. If you would have voted for Obama and don’t vote or vote for let’s say Johnson or write in Bieber’s name, hey, congratulations, Bunkie! You just voted for Romney by default. You voted for endless war — the war in Afghanistan and the brand-spanking-new war in Iran (coming soon to a theater of battle near you) — and yes, for drone strikes, killing American citizens and kidnapping and indefinite detention.
This touches upon Obama’s first flaws, though it does so unwittingly by overlooking the fact that the President himself pursued indefinite detention and he is overseeing secretive drone wars. In Conor Friedersdorf’s piece about why he refuses to vote for the president, he reminds that Obama set a precedent for secretly ordering the extrajudicial killing of American citizens. Further, “under Obama, Bush-era lawbreakers, including literal torturers, have been subject to fewer and less draconian attempts at punishment them than some of the people who conscientiously came forward to report on their misdeeds.” And largely because he is a totally affable, educated, deliberative guy, and he doesn’t say things like “with us or against us,” very few people are up and arms about this side of the President.
I’m saying that with Romney in the White House… many others, would join in the resistance to austerity, the resistance to war. Apparently, they cannot muster the energy to do that under a Democratic president, under the first black president.
Because everyone tends to think that if the other guy wins, the world is going to crash to its end. The right imagines this in the form of America succumbing to Communism and terrorist threats, and the left imagines this in the form of the constitution getting shredded, perpetual global warfare, and women getting arrested just for being women. From my left-leaning perspective, some of those fears are based in reality, particularly those relating to women’s rights, but in worrying about what Romney might do, Obama supporters appear totally willing to overlook these aforementioned serious faults.
The one thing that has long encouraged me to vote for the Democratic choice in a presidential election is the fact that whoever wins will likely nominate the next Supreme Court Justice (and a number of imperative court appointments), and I would rather not have the Right wing make these kinds of legal decisions, but considering President Obama’s aforementioned affront to constitutionality, it is difficult to advocate for his qualifications in selection. Of course I want more progressive, science-minded, pro-equal rights, pro-woman Justices sitting in this country, but if this is how Obama treats the constitution, what makes him a desirable authority on constitutionality?
At the end of the day, I feel conflicted in the way that Dr. Cornel West is:
It’s fairly clear capitalism is not working for poor and working people in America. And we have to bear witness to that. We have to tell that truth. Of course we’re very sensitive when it comes to the fear of a right-wing takeover of the White House with Romney, would be catastrophic. But as I have also noted, so far, Obama has been disastrous. So the question is, how do we acknowledge that this suffering is real, keep track of not just the statistics, but the precious humanity of the folk who are catching hell?
One choice is undoubtedly catastrophic for a number of reasons that strike me as obvious, and the other, the one we know, surely isn’t a prize either. Regardless of how things turn out in November, I hope that we do a much better job of fighting for our civil rights and economic justice and against war regardless of who is doing the wrong, or how quickly the next iteration of Perpetual Campaign Season reintroduces itself to the public consciousness.
PHOTO CREDIT: Zhang Jun | MCT