I’m trying to ‘get’ the Obama thing. Why are so many people ready to vote for a guy who seems pretty conservative to me. More like an 80s Republican than any Democrat I’ve ever known. So why do so many of my old Democratic buddies love this guy so much? I won’t kid you — I can’t see myself voting for a Robot Drone Bomber. But, many people do. So, I spent part of today trying to figure it out.
Frankly, I’m not getting very far.
There’s this post over at FireDogLake, Obama, The Not-So-Great Debate, Austerity and the Election. David Dayen is talking about this story over at Time — What He Knows Now: Obama on Popularity, Partisanship and Getting Things Done in Washington (which is also discussed by Digby here)
After this, he improbably says that the election is “going to give voters a very clear choice.” There’s a discontinuity there, part of which can be absorbed by the realities of what the Romney campaign has proposed on paper – massive tax cuts, spending slashes on Medicaid and the poor that would cut to the bone. But Obama explains that his goal would be merely to cut those programs, just not all the way back that nobody could benefit from them.
My message to Democrats is the same message I’ve got to Republicans and independents, and that is, I want a balanced approach to deficit reduction that combines additional revenue, particularly from folks like me who can afford it, with prudent cuts on both the discretionary side and the mandatory side but that still allows us to make investments in the things we need to grow.
And that means I’m prepared to look at reforms in Medicaid. I’m prepared to look at smart reforms on Medicare. But there are things I won’t do, and this is part of the debate we’re having in this election. I do not think it is a good idea to set up Medicare as a voucher system in which seniors are spending up to $6,000 more out of pocket. That was the original proposal Congressman Ryan put forward. And there is still a strong impulse I think among some Republicans for that kind of approach.
I’m not going to slash Medicaid to the point where disabled kids or seniors who are in nursing homes are basically uncared for. We’re not going to violate the basic bargain that Social Security represents.
This is what passes for a great debate in American politics circa 2012. Sadder still, it IS a debate, just on a scale that leaves out the perspective of a substantial chunk, perhaps the majority, of the country.
And it’s funny because (I swear, I’m trying to figure out his appeal) then I came to this from Glenn Greenwald:
Strong and rational though it may be, the temptation to ignore entirely the election year spectacle should be resisted. Despite its shallow and manipulative qualities – or, more accurately, because of them – this process has some serious repercussions for American political life.
The election process is where American politicians go to be venerated and glorified, all based on trivial personality attributes that have zero relationship to what they do with their power, but which, by design, convinces Americans that they’re blessed to be led by people with such noble and sterling character, no matter how much those political figures shaft them. (Wednesday, President Obama, during his highly-touted “Ask Me Anything” appearance on Reddit, predictably ignored the question from Mother Jones’s Nick Baumann about Obama’s killing of the American teenager Abdulrahman Awlaki, in favor of answering questions about the White House beer recipe and his favorite basketball player.)
The election process is where each political party spends hundreds of millions of dollars exploiting the same trivial personality attributes to demonize the other party’s politicians as culturally foreign, all to keep their followers in a high state of fear and thus lock-step loyalty.
So I don’t know what to think. I mean none of this is getting me any closer to voting for +8% to +20% unemployment and a Robot Drone Bomber or a
Robot (HaHaHa) I mean Romney.
But, I’ll tell you this – I kind of expect crap from Republicans. I don’t mean I accept it but, I live in Kansas and am surrounded by their logic so I expect it. I get it. I get them. But I never expected to live with this shit from Democrats everyday for a year or more!
“So, who are you voting for?” an Obama follower asked me prior to the event. I was holding posters with 12 friends and handing out hundreds of flyers that looked like Obama material until you read them. (PDF).
The posters objected to the tripling of weapons sales to foreign dictators last year, Obama’s willingness to cut Social Security and Medicare, the kill list, imprisonment without trial, warrantless spying, corporate trade agreements, the continued so-called “Bush” tax cuts, the war on Afghanistan, the drone wars, the increased military budget, the murder of Tariq Aziz and of Abdulrahman al Awlaki, the weak auto efficiency standards in the news that day, the refusal to prosecute torturers, Obama’s sabotaging of agreements to counter global warming, etc.
“So, who are you going to vote for?”
“Well,” I said, “you know, you can vote for someone good like Jill Stein or Rocky Anderson, or you can vote for Obama, but today is not election day. If you vote for the lesser evil candidate on election day, that’s great. Knock yourself out. But that does not begin to produce an argument for being his apologist and cheerleader throughout the year. If you push the culture and the government in a better direction, both evil candidates will get a little less evil. One guy wants to trash Social Security, and the other guy brags about his willingness to make huge compromises with that agenda — that is, to partially trash Social Security. So, is your job to demand that not a dime be cut (regardless of how you vote), or is your job to cheer for the partially trash it guy, thereby guaranteeing that he and the other guy both get even worse?”
“Yeah, I see, but I’m trying to understand who you think we should vote for.”
“Let me try again. Take Obama’s kill list for . . . “
“President Obama keeps a list of the people he wants to kill. It was a frontpage New York Times story three months ago that made a lot of news but was carefully avoided by Democrats even more assiduously than you would have sought it out and trumpeted your outrage were the president a Republican. Anyway, take the kill list, which includes Americans and non-Americans, adults and children. Is it your job to ignore it, to celebrate it, or to protest it? I don’t mean your job as a voter, but your job as a citizen. What are you supposed to do in such a case?”
“Well what’s the alternative?”
“The alternative to murdering people? Well, I don’t know how to put this. The alternative is essentially not murdering people.”
“No, what’s the alternative to Obama? Isn’t the other guy worse?”
“I’m not sure I’m being very clear here. 70% of the country wants the war in Afghanistan ended. Neither candidate is willing to end it. Obama pretends he’s ending it. Romney doesn’t mention it. Should 70% of the country keep quiet while large numbers of people are killed? Or should we approach both branches of our government, the two parties, with our just and moral demand until we’re satisfied — regardless of who we’re going to vote for?”
All bolding by me. (also referenced by Lambert in an earlier comment)
And that’s that. I still don’t get it.