I never harbored any illusion that Barack Obama was a liberal. He was never higher than third choice, for me, in the 2008 Democratic primaries, for just that reason. I always knew that Harvard Law doesn't graduate many liberals, and the few that it does graduate don't get hired by the leading center of right-wing economic philosophy in America, University of Chicago Law. I knew his Democratic convictions were shallow, I knew that he had made his career out of sucking up to conservatives, out of being conservatives' one token liberal (and black) friend, in hopes of getting some crumb of moderation out of them.
But then he gave that damned speech. You know the one. And like a lot of people, I teared up when he stood up in New Hampshire and said, "in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope." You know what? The next time a member of Generation X says something to me about "hope," I'm going to assume that I'm being scammed.
Because I'll be damned if what I campaigned for months for, and stood in line for hours on crutches for on a lovely November morning, was for someone who would govern significantly to the right of Mitt Romney.
When, in his first week in office, President Obama nominated militarist and corporatist right-wing Democrat Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State, I emailed the White House, saying that if I'd wanted Hillary Clinton anywhere near the White House, I would have voted for her. Like other liberals, I was ignored. But I still clung to some hope, because it was still just barely possible, back then, that all he was doing was ending an intra-party fight between the Democrats In Name Only and the tattered remainder of the real Democratic Party by making room for a high profile DINO in a post that had no domestic or military responsibilities. Maybe. So I stayed my tongue (mostly) and waited to see how he'd actually govern.
When the grass hadn't finished regrowing from that beautiful inaugural on the Washington Mall but he had already broken his promises as to when he'd end the Iraq War, I bit my lip, and reminded myself that at least he wasn't escalating it like McCain would have. When he announced his plans to escalate the war in Afghanistan, but not by anything within two orders of magnitude of what it would take to actually win it, I shrugged, unhappy about it but not having expected anything better from him.
I tried hard not to blame him for the stimulus, though, and just utterly failed. A masterpiece of right-wing Clintonism, the stimulus bill could be broken into roughly three equal parts: evil, evil, and worthless. It consisted of roughly one third tax cuts, disproportionately for the upper middle class and the rich (evil), one third subsidies for wealthy corporations who, predictably, spent at least half of that money subsidizing foreign competition for American workers (evil), and one third replicating the useless old Public Works Administration in the form of timid, small, long-term public works projects, none of which were scheduled to hire any more workers for years (worthless). $800 billion, flushed down the toilet in the pursuit of the exact same policies that, under Clinton and Bush, got us into this mess in the first place. That, more than anything, was when I began to suspect that I'd been had.
But that wasn't nearly the blow as his total betrayal of his campaign promises about Gitmo. When even George W. Bush admits that the US policy of indefinite detention without trial, of people picked up on or near the battlefield despite the fact that we already knew at the time that at least 2/3rds of them were innocent, all of whom, innocent and guilty alike, were tortured for months in hopes of getting actionable intelligence out of the 1/3rd of them who might have been guilty, is making us look like a pariah state, a rogue state, to every civilized country on the planet, when the bizarre extra-territorial base we admitted to using for this has become the flag waved by every anti-American terrorist group at their recruitment rallies, setting those people free, however much they hate us now, should have been a no-brainer. Yeah, most of them would become terrorists when they left; wouldn't you? But we have insanely well funded intelligence services; it wouldn't have been that tough of a burden to watch them and protect against them. And that, pretty much, is one of the things that Barack Obama campaigned on. So when he said that he wasn't going to close Guantanamo on time, then said he might not close it at all, then said that if he did close it, it would only to be to relocate it, that those torture victims will never, ever be released by their torturers, that the most they could hope for would be to be hidden more carefully in northwestern Illinois, or worse at some former Soviet air base in Afghanistan for however long our puppet dictatorship of drug lords and former rape-gang leaders in Afghanistan holds out? Something inside of me died.
And then came ObamaCare. We're going to adopt Mitt Romney's health care plan, only with even fewer cost controls. We made this decision the exact year that Massachusetts, the state that piloted RomneyCare, is about to collapse over skyrocketing costs, made worse by low premium participation among people who've figured out that it's cheaper to pay the annual tax penalty once a year than to pay 6 or 8 times that in premiums, and you still get treated. We waited until we saw what a disaster individual mandate without cost control would be, and then we rushed to vote it in without a single Republican vote, so that when it explodes, the Democrats will be blamed for it. Beautiful. He, and Pelosi, and Reid, couldn't have done more to discredit the Democrats for two generations to come if they'd been on Michael Steele's payroll. But even if, on some level, they know this, what do they care? It doesn't take effect until two years into (what they hope will be) President Obama's second term, when he's no longer running for office. If it takes the same three years to melt down that RomneyCare took in Massachusetts, then it won't melt down until 2017, by which time Obama, Pelosi, and Reid will all be retired. What do they care? Well, I care: at this rate, I expect to still be alive in 2017, and even though I still hope to be on Medicare then, I don't want to live in America, and be campaigning for Democrats, once we're getting blamed for RomneyCare.
I assume you all know the story of The Straw that Broke the Camel's Back. Replacing one of the last remaining center-left justices on the Supreme Court, one of the last justices to remember that the Preamble to the Constitution is, in fact, part of the Constitution, one of the last justices to remember that it's at least as important that the highest court in the land deliver justice as it is that they get their narrow legalistic footnotes right and color within the lines, with a center-right (at best) sycophant to power, someone whose use of what little power has ever been given to her has demonstrated her own unconscious racist, sexist, upper-class biases, is truly, in the measure of things, a very small straw. But this camel was already laden to its absolute upper limit. This truly is, for me, the last straw.
In 2010, 2012, and maybe even 2014, I'll show up at the polls to vote for Governor Jay Nixon again as needed, and the same for Senator Claire McCaskill, because I still believe in both of them. Everywhere else on the ballot, I'm voting Republican. Not in spite of the fact that I know they're wrong, but specifically because I know that they're wrong.
Republican military, foreign policy, and economic principles are wrong. They cannot lead to anything but military disgrace, foreign policy pariahship, ecological disaster, and economic collapse on the level of the Great Depression or worse. But right now, those aren't seen by the public as Republican principles. They're seen as "bi-partisan" principles, because the Democratic Party is entirely dominated by people who agree with Republican principles, they just want them implemented in a slightly friendlier way. When those principles are seen to fail, as they have been being seen to have failed ever since the dot-com bubble burst of 2000, the al Qaeda attacks of 2001, the disastrous Iraq War of 2003, and the real estate investment bubble burst of 2007, I absolutely 100% want to make sure that it is the Republicans who get blamed for it.
I am done voting for the nicer of two right-wing Republicans. I am done with a two-party system in which Dwight Eisenhower and Barry Goldwater would be seen as too liberal to be taken seriously as Democratic candidates, in which Richard Nixon would be seen as so liberal that if he were running for office today as a Democrat, he would be taken about as seriously as Bernie Sanders and Dennis Kucinich, in which George H.W. Bush would be considered a center-left Democrat, in which Ronald Reagan, if he were running today, would be seen as a moderate-to-liberal Republican.
If, when the inevitable crash comes, the American people have no alternative left to vote for? Then the anarcho-communist riots in Greece right now, where they just burned a bank and murdered three low-level banksters, where serious people are worried that Greece is about to slide into a second communist civil war and maybe drag much of Europe with it? That might be the best we could have left to hope for. And I don't want to live to see that. So if the Democrats don't nominate an actual liberal or at least a progressive where you live, vote Republican in 2010 and 2012. For the love of all holy gods, vote for the Republican presidential candidate in 2012, however bad they are. In fact, hope that the Republicans vote for the most right wing, most banksterish, most theocratic candidate they have. Let them take the blame.