Thursday, September 29, 2011

The No-Win Election

Civil libertarians have long had a dysfunctional relationship with the Democratic Party, which treats them as a captive voting bloc with nowhere else to turn in elections. Not even this history, however, prepared civil libertarians for Obama. After the George W. Bush years, they were ready to fight to regain ground lost after Sept. 11. Historically, this country has tended to correct periods of heightened police powers with a pendulum swing back toward greater individual rights. Many were questioning the extreme measures taken by the Bush administration, especially after the disclosure of abuses and illegalities. Candidate Obama capitalized on this swing and portrayed himself as the champion of civil liberties.

However, President Obama not only retained the controversial Bush policies, he expanded on them. The earliest, and most startling, move came quickly. Soon after his election, various military and political figures reported that Obama reportedly promised Bush officials in private that no one would be investigated or prosecuted for torture. In his first year, Obama made good on that promise, announcing that no CIA employee would be prosecuted for torture. Later, his administration refused to prosecute any of the Bush officials responsible for ordering or justifying the program and embraced the “just following orders” defense for other officials, the very defense rejected by the United States at the Nuremberg trials after World War II.

Obama failed to close Guantanamo Bay as promised. He continued warrantless surveillance and military tribunals that denied defendants basic rights. He asserted the right to kill U.S. citizens he views as terrorists. His administration has fought to block dozens of public-interest lawsuits challenging privacy violations and presidential abuses.

But perhaps the biggest blow to civil liberties is what he has done to the movement itself. It has quieted to a whisper, muted by the power of Obama’s personality and his symbolic importance as the first black president as well as the liberal who replaced Bush. Indeed, only a few days after he took office, the Nobel committee awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize without his having a single accomplishment to his credit beyond being elected. Many Democrats were, and remain, enraptured.

It’s almost a classic case of the Stockholm syndrome, in which a hostage bonds with his captor despite the obvious threat to his existence. Even though many Democrats admit in private that they are shocked by Obama’s position on civil liberties, they are incapable of opposing him.

~ from Obama and the Decline of the American Civil Liberties Movement by Jonathan Turley ~
The 2012 presidential election is shaping up to be a no-win situation for voters. The two main choices look to be a Democratic incumbent who, for the most part, supports conservative Republican policies and a Republican challenger who, most likely, will be beholden to the Tea Party and evangelical Christian movements. It will be like choosing your own method of execution -- disembowelment versus crucifixion!

One thing is becoming certain, though. Conservative policies will win out, regardless of which candidate garners the most votes. In a manner of speaking, the choices will be between a moderate Republican (Obama) and a reactionary Republican (whichever zany the GOP settles on). Bona fide progressives, liberals and leftists won't have a candidate to vote for.

Most people who are left-of-center will hold their noses to vote for Obama, in the belief that it's better to deal with the devil you know as opposed to the one you don't know. People like me will refuse to vote for either devil because, in my book, voting for a devil means you approve of a devil!

I don't like the choices being offered and so I refuse to pick between them.

1 comment:

  1. Any third party candidates that you would vote for? I know they have absolutely zero chance of winning, but at least you wouldn't have to feel like you are electing a devil.


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