Monday, October 22, 2012

A Plea to My Leftist Friends: Obama is not Romney - The Vote Matters

There are some on the left of the political spectrum (the real left, not what our media and pundits call the "left") who see no important and meaningful difference betweeen Romney and Obama. Both, they argue, are corporate puppets who don't really represent the needs of poor, working, or even middle class voters. Both are stooges of the Military Industiral Complex that murders civilians abroad and imposes American Imperial Policy on nations all over the globe.

My Friends on the left are surely right to see Romney and Obama as tools of the the American Military Empire, the Corporate robber barrons, and the absurdly rich plutocrats. Neither man's campaign or debate performances mention the extreme income inequality, growing poverty, and diminshing resources of our nation's poor. Neither questions American expceptionalism and imperialism at home or abrod. Even worse, neither man seriously addresses the erosion and whole-sale decimation of the American Middle Class. With these points I agree completely.

Why, then, do I claim that Obama is not the same as Romney and that this election actually does matter?

Here's why: Obama will preserve social security and traditional medicare. Romney, on the other hand, will do away with both, turning them - slowly and carefully no doubt - into privatized and ineffective shadows of their former selves. Romney will slash taxes even more than Bush already has, diminsihing public funds, and resulting in drastic cuts to the social safety net. Far fewer food stamps, less unemployment, even more drastically underfunded schools, an infrastructure that crumbles and erodes even more so than it already has.

Romney will repeal Obamacare and pass the Ryan Budget into law. Of course, many on the left are unhappy with Obamacare, seeing it as a sell-out to the Health Insurance Industry. There is merit in that criticism. I share in that dissappointment. Despite my reserveations about Obamacare, however, I prefer a system that eliminates pre-existing conditions, expands medicaid to cover more of the working poor, allows young adults to stay on their parents insurance until they are 26, and provides free vaccines, screenings, and birth control to many who desperately need these services. Whatever Romney would put in place of Obamacare, would include none of this. It is likely in fact, that he will reinstitute the worse of the practices of the private insurance market, and perhaps even make matters worse than they were before.

I know that, for us on the left, Obama is not "our man." I know that his foreign policy has been a human rights travesty. Drones, kill lists, suspension of due process, the arrest of Bradley Manning. Yes, these are deplorable. The United States and its leadership ought to be held accountable for all of this; Obama included.

But what is to be gained by letting Mr. Romney win? Will he and his party release Bradley Manning? Stop the drones? Be rid of the kill lists? Be serious. If anything they will expand and amplify this and possibly bring back water boarding and other tortures just for good measure.

Finally, don't foget that Romney will get to appoint as many as 3 Supreme Court Justices during his Presidency if he wins this thing. If you care about a court that is set to consider same-sex marriage, if you are concerned that Roe V. Wade not be overturned, this is very far from a trivial matter.

To vote for Obama is not to support his dreadful - and all too American - imperial foreign policy. Nor is to vote for the clear corporate power structure that he represents.

We must vote for Obama to keep what is left of our social safety nets -  food stamps, head start programs, unemployment insurance, social security, medicare, etc - out of the hands of Mitt Romney and the right-wing party that comes with him.

We must vote for Obama in order to build on that which is good in Obamacare. We cannot return to what existed before it pasts.

We must vote for Obama to protect women's reproductive rights and the hope same-sex couples to have their love recognized with legal marriage.

Obama may not be the "change we can believe in," he is surely not the progressive champion some took him to be. Despite this, however, we know that his opponents are radical regressives who will undo what is left of the New Deal and the Great Society. On social views that will turn back the gay rights and womens movements, and plunge us backward. If we re-elect Obama we can push his party to the left, we can build up genuine progressive movements locally from the ground up and change the political climate of our nation for the better.We can do this not because Obama is wonderful, or even willing to join us, but because with Obama we can retain enough of the old liberal ideas and institutions to move forward and build.

But if we don't defeat Mitt Romney, if we don't win President Obama a second term, it may take us a generation, or even several generations, to undo the damages of the radical, right wing, regressive, and destructive social and economic agenda of Mr. Romney, Mr. Ryan, and a Republican Party now run by openly extremist regressives.

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