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Choices, clarified

The Hillary2012 robocalls have spread to swing states and while we’re not really sure who is doing them or for what purpose (it could be that they just want Hillary in 2012), there’s something that the Obama contingent should keep in mind.

We have heard over and over again that Hillary has no plans to run in 2012.  Plans can change but we’ll take her at her word, for now.  However, just because the person most likely to succeed in capturing the White House for the Democrats is staying out of the race (for now), that doesn’t automatically mean that we have to vote for Obama.  All it means is that the Democratic party persists in offering me a lousy choice of a presidential candidate who does not meet my standards of executive leadership, performance or ethics.  That’s all it means.  My position has not changed.

If Bill Clinton wants to lower his standards and vote for Obama, that’s his choice.  He is a loyal Democrat and his opinion is still of value to the Democratic party.  But I don’t have to follow his advice.  My vote is my own and I am no longer a member of the Democratic party.  After 2008, I feel no sense of obligation or loyalty to the party.  The party hasn’t scored any points with me and I’m fairly moderate in my liberalism.  I’m not a tree hugging, vegan, anti-nuke, anti-genetically modified corn crunchy granola type.  That doesn’t make me an independent by choice.  I only mean to say that I don’t accept a lot of left dogma as part of my tribal identity.  I find Chris Hedges types to be pompous, pseudosincere, impractical bores who I would not want to chat with at a cocktail party.  I might want to sit in a dark corner and watch him do his thing but I’m not going to submissively approach and touch him like he’s the alpha male chimp of my unit group.

Here’s the bottom line, if Hillary jumps in the race, I’ll vote for her.  I’m not so pure that I blame her single vote out of 99 for the Iraq War Resolution (because that would be stupid, illogical and hypocritical especially if I had planned to vote for John Edwards in 2008 before he dropped out).  I also don’t blame her for the fact that the wars didn’t end on January 20, 2009.  That was never going to happen even if Gandhi had been elected because the Bushies intentionally destabilized central asia before they left.  I also don’t think she is the only person in the world who has accepted money from lobbyists but I do give her credit for not allowing that money to cloud her judgment or mess with her principles.  So, yeah, I’d vote for her if she got in.

I’d also vote for other Democrats should they decide to run.  Like Sherrod Brown.  Or Ed Rendell.  Or even Al Franken, though most Americans don’t understand how serious and committed he is and he’d have an uphill battle there.  But still, if he decided to run, I’d vote for him and campaign for him and walk the streets for him- gladly and with much enthusiasm.  Same with Bernie Sanders.

But if the DNC thinks I will just fall into line behind Obama after his poor performance, then they can kiss my ass.  Putting him out there for a second run is easy for the Democrats but I’m not accepting easy from them this year and neither should anyone else. If Obama had run for president on some obscure party ticket and ended up on the ballot in 2008, no one would have voted for him. Go on and do a thought experiment on this.  Imagine Barack Obama running for president as the nominee of the Green party in 2008.  The Green party has had African American candidates before.  Some of them might have been pretty good candidates.  But have you ever seen the media go nuts over a Green party candidate?  Of course not.  If Hillary ran for the Green party in 2008, that would be news. Obama running as a Green in 2008?  Snore. The Green party hasn’t reached the threshold of electoral numbers and victories that would give it the proper gravitas.  Neither has any other obscure established party.   It was only the fact that Obama scored the Democratic party nomination that made him seem like a legitimate and serious candidate.

Come to think of it, the “third party test” will now become a part of my criteria for evaluating major party candidates for office during the primaries and general election.  I will now ask myself, if this candidate was running for office on an obscure third party instead of a major party, would I still vote for him or her based on their level of experience, positions on issues and voting record?  If more people had asked themselves this question back in 2008, Hillary would be president right now.  For incumbents, I might apply the Jack Welch “rank and yank” criteria.  On a scale of 1-5, with 5 being best, how does this incumbent stack up against the past 5 presidents?  If he scores a 2 or below, he’s outta there.

So, next year, I expect Democrats to raise their standards and work hard to win me back.  Obama ain’t going to cut it for me because I already know that commodity and his attitude towards hard working middle class STEM workers (he believes the garbage that the executives tell him) and women (he doesn’t seem to think they have quite the moral authority of men) and I’m just not interested.  But if they offer me someone else, I might take a good hard look.  Otherwise, I might as well take a chance on some third party candidate.  Those third parties can’t be offering anything *worse* than Barack Obama or the Republican nominee, and there’s a good possibility that they have someone who is better, or at least able to do his or her own thinking.

I expect the Democrats will come back screaming about how we’re slitting our own throats but what they are really objecting to is the loss of their own power.  From where I sit, I don’t benefit by giving my vote to either one of the current major parties at the presidential level.  I *might* benefit if I give my vote to another party.  I have nothing to lose, but possibly everything to gain.  I feel no sense of obligation to help Democrats retain power if they have no sense of obligation to help me keep my job, health care or my house.  This is not a game.

So, while I don’t know what the robocallers are up to, I encourage Iowa and New Hampshire Democrats to make a little mischief.  Color outside the lines.  Push the envelope.  Subvert the dominant paradigm.  If you don’t want Obama either, do us all a favor and pick someone who isn’t on the ballot yet.  Occupy the primaries.  You know what to do.

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