By Jack Jodell, Jan. 1, 2012
HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE! A few days ago, on December 26, the piece below appeared in my friend TomCat’s fabulous blog, Politics Plus (http://www.politicsplus.org/). I found it to be a fascinating and uniquely original way to look at the upcoming presidential election. I am therefore reprinting it below, with some added photos, and my comments on it will follow at bottom, beneath a dividing line, in bold italic.
“In January, 2013, one of two people will be President of the United States: Barack Obama or the Republican nominee. Whether you want to vote for one of them or against one of then, those are the only two choices you have. By voting for a third party candidate or staying home, you may get to enjoy the smug satisfaction of disapproval, but the only real effect you will have is to help the candidate furthest from your own views. Millions did so in 2010, and they need look no further than Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Florida or the US House of Representatives to see what havoc they have unleashed on this nation. In an interesting article, E.J. Dionne, Jr. postulates that Obama must win in 2012, because, in a very strange way, Obama is the only conservative in the race.
…Obama is defending a tradition that sees government as an essential actor in the nation’s economy, a guarantor of fair rules of competition, a countervailing force against excessive private power, a check on the inequalities that capitalism can produce, and an instrument that can open opportunity for those born without great advantages.
Today’s Republicans cast the federal government as an oppressive force, a drag on the economy and an enemy of private initiative. Texas Gov. Rick Perry continues to promise, as he did last week during a campaign stop in Davenport, Iowa, to be a president who would make “Washington, D.C., as inconsequential in your life as he can make it.” That far-reaching word “inconsequential” implies a lot more than trims in budgets or taxes.
The GOP is engaged in a wholesale effort to redefine the government help that Americans take for granted as an effort to create a radically new, statist society. Consider Romney’s claim in his Bedford speech: “President Obama believes that government should create equal outcomes. In an entitlement society, everyone receives the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort and willingness to take risk. That which is earned by some is redistributed to the others. And the only people who truly enjoy any real rewards are those who do the redistributing — the government.”
Obama believes no such thing. If he did, why are so many continuing to make bundles on Wall Street? As my colleagues Greg Sargent and Paul Krugman have been insisting, Romney is saying things about the president that are flatly, grossly and shamefully untrue. But Romney’s sleight of hand is revealing: Republicans are increasingly inclined to argue that any redistribution (and Social Security, Medicare, student loans, veterans benefits and food stamps are all redistributive) is but a step down the road to some radically egalitarian dystopia.
Obama will thus be the conservative in 2012, in the truest sense of that word. He is the candidate defending the modestly redistributive and regulatory government the country has relied on since the New Deal, and that neither Ronald Reagan nor George W. Bush dismantled. The rhetoric of the 2012 Republicans suggests they want to go far beyond where Reagan or Bush ever went. And here’s the irony: By raising the stakes of 2012 so high, Republicans will be playing into Obama’s hands. The GOP might well win a referendum on the state of the economy. But if this is instead a larger-scale referendum on whether government should be ‘inconsequential,’ Republicans will find the consequences to be very disappointing. [emphasis added]
Inserted from <Washington Post>
Now many of you may think that defending the status-quo is not good enough, and I agree. I would like to see dramatic change now, just like most of you, but that choice is not on the table. The way to make that kind of change happen is from the grass roots up, starting with electing progressives on the local level by taking control of the local Democratic Party apparatus. Those progressives will graduate to the state and federal levels of government, but that will take time. Here in Oregon, it’s starting to bear fruit. Just look at Jeff Merkley. In the meantime, we need to fight on the federal level on an issue by issue basis, but most important, we need to preserve enough of the status quo to insure the ability of American voters to elect candidates. That’s what’s at stake in 2012, and Obama is the only choice of the two that will do that. Republicans have only two real goals: redistributing your wealth upward, and establishing a permanent Republican Regime of one-party rule.”
To this brilliant piece of truth and logic offered above by TomCat and E.J. Dionne, Jr., I would also like to stress a few more realisms:
One, staying home or voting for a third party candidate will guarantee the return of an aggressive, imperialist, neocon-ifluenced foreign policy. For ALL current Republican front-runners are loaded up with former George W. Bush-era foreign policy advisors, and returning these crazy, paranoid types to positions of power would be an absolute disaster to this country!
Two, electing ANY Republican President would allow them to appoint even more conservative judges to the federal bench and even worse, to the Supreme Court. We would therefore be adding to the reactionary judicial sludges like Samuel Alito, John Roberts, and Clarence Thomas. THIS WOULD DESTROY CIVIL LIBERTIES, WHATEVER LABOR MOVEMENT WE HAVE LEFT, ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION, AND GUARANTEE CORPORATE RIGHTS BEFORE WORKERS’ OR INDIVIDUALS’ RIGHTS FOR AT LEAST THE NEXT 50+ YEARS! Is THIS what you REALLY want for the country? I don’t think so!
Three, a Republican presidential win will accelerate the depletion of the middle class and create an entire nation of powerless POOR. The ability to form labor unions or win fair settlements from negligent or reckless big business interests will be gone forever. Pollution will increase dramatically and food and product safety will be a thing of the past as regulation-hating conservatives will dismantle nearly all federal regulatory agencies. The country we have grown with and loved will be irreparably destroyed. We CANNOT allow these things to happen!
Like many of you, I, too, have been VERY disappointed in the President’s failure to honor a great number of his 2008 campaign pledges. I am even more disappointed at the way he has cozyed-up to big oil and those criminals on Wall Street. But I can clearly see how foolish enabling the election of ANY Republican would be, as every single one of them is diametrically opposed to virtually everything we progressives stand for. So here, at the very outset of 2012, I am very reluctantly endorsing the reelection of President Barack Obama. He is the ONLY alternative to the crazed reactionary mudslide the far-too-right Republican and Tea Party is offering us for 2012. Staying home or voting for a minor candidate won’t punish Obama or even his party in the least, but it WILL be punishing YOURSELF and the entire country! Now, 2016 is a whole other option. I would urge everybody to do as TomCat mentioned above, to start with “electing progressives on the local level by taking control of the Democratic Party apparatus.” To this end, I am urging you, as I have started doing repeatedly, to ATTEND YOUR LOCAL CITY, COUNTY, AND STATE DEMOCRATIC PARTY CAUCUSES AND PUSH FOR THE NOMINATION AND ELECTION OF ONLYPROGRESSIVE CANDIDATES! With enough effort, we can DWARF the disgusting Tea Party’s 2010 successful effort and ensure that by 2016, this country will be restored to its former state of fairness and greatness. We truly have no other feasible alternative, and NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT! So let’s stop fussing and GET GOING, SHALL WE? ONWARD, PROGRESSIVES!!!