Why is there no Democratic Policy Guide to match the Republican version? Well, most simply, while Democrats are as self-serving and dependent on big money as their Republican friends, their party is not nearly so blatantly anti-science, pro-Christian, heartlessly pro-wealth and abusive of females as the GOP. The Democrats may not do as they say, but what they say – with some glaring exceptions – generally makes sense for an industrialized society in the 21st century. Their geopolitical thinking of course appears firmly rooted in the 20th century, but even that is attractive contrasted with the Republicans, all of whose policies seem appropriate for the Gilded Age (excepting of course that the Robber Barons of that time actually produced goods and services for the country). The economic ignorance – or dissimulation – of the GOP is breath-taking, especially considering that even a superficial knowledge of the last hundred years of American history reveals that laissez-faire capitalism can only damage a modern society and generate massive economic inequality. They are classic extremists, who have set the bar very high. What positions would Democrats need to take to be as radically to the left as the Republicans are to the right? Stalinism? Maoism?
Now, candidate Obama. Granted, he actually knows (or has people who know) some basic economics (e.g., austerity and deficit pay-off are the worst thing to engage in during a recession) and granted, he inherited a mammoth mess and has lately faced a hostile Congress (including his own party). But his actions bespeak a man who cannot be bothered to exert himself to fight for his promises and who is just as enamored with the apparatus of national security and the power of the government, especially the Presidency, as any red-blooded conservative. In fact, this may be the one area where the Democrats outdo the Republicans: hypocrisy.
Being a “progressive” politician apparently does not mean any more commitment to the truth than being a conservative does. His campaign lies are not as staggering as those of Paul Ryan, but the lies are there (Obama: 1 of 50 statements false; Romney, et al.: 1 of 10), and he avoids the serious media as diligently as Mitt. After all, they check facts. Better to talk to People magazine and friendly local radio stations than the White House Press Corps with their annoying regard for facts. Better the social networks, where disregard for truth is pretty much part of the system.
Obama promised the most transparent White House ever. That used to be emblazoned on the official White House web site, but I can no longer find it. Wow! Are they being honest about their need to be opaque? All governments want to control their image and avoid letting the public know anything embarrassing, but the present administration might be considered the most opaque ever had it not been preceded by the Bush administration. Actually, in one area of image control Obama is outdoing his predecessor. In 1917 Congress passed the Espionage Act, which, as the name suggests, was designed to provide the government with the tools to prosecute those supplying American secrets to a foreign power, i.e., spies. In the 95 years since then the Act has been used on nine occasions to prosecute Americans responsible for leaking classified information not to a potential enemy state but rather to the American media, and thus the American public. Of those nine instances of the Espionage Act being thusly misused six fall under the Obama administration. And now he is apparently putting incredible pressure on London to get Julian Assange in a position where he can be extradited to the United States.
Only one aspect of the Bush security apparatus has been eliminated, torture in interrogations, which probably still goes on in the back rooms and undisclosed locations of our countless intelligence agencies. Otherwise, Guantanamo remains open, detainees will receive military trials, we still have detention without trial and none of the provisions of the Constitutionally questionable Patriot Act have been rescinded. On other fronts, the “too-big-to-fail” banks are now even bigger, and the financial industry appears to be no more regulated now than it was when the economy collapsed. We are still in Afghanistan, and despite the fact that both the American and Afghani peoples do not want us there, despite the increasingly obvious evidence that the war is a failure, we will be keeping – and losing – our troops there for another year. Is he afraid of “looking weak” or perhaps the huge collection of war contractors have been on the horn to their purchased congressmen? To be fair, however, were the Republicans in control, we would be sending more troops to Afghanistan and would still be in Iraq.
Oh, the drones. Clearly, Bush was a piker when it came to blowing up people around the world, and if anything, Obama is even more oblivious to international law than Bush was. He has no concern for national sovereignty beyond our own, and while his rhetoric on the Middle East was promising, he has done absolutely nothing in that area except to get more entangled in Israel’s plans to wage a war of aggression. Perhaps I am unfair here, because who knows what is going on behind the closed doors of diplomacy? On the other hand, his Attorney General has publically assured us that all of his boss’ activities around the globe are perfectly legal according to international law, a staggering expression of self-serving nonsense.
There seems to be something wrong with Barack Obama, something that goes beyond just being another politician, but for all his faults he and his party are so much better than the increasingly screwball Republicans that were the economy in slightly better shape he would not have to campaign at all. Nevertheless, I am sick of voting for the lesser of two evils and will drop out of the system. I am tempted to think in Baader-Meinhof terms and hope that Romney and friends have their chance to ruin the country and demonstrate how utterly wrong they are about most everything, but it is after all my country, and all they are likely to produce is extremism from the other end of the political spectrum. The nation is in serious trouble.
One alternative to abandoning the system is throwing a little bit of energy toward voter reform. Our current method of voting ensures that 3rd parties cannot be viable as long-term contenders.
Something such as approval voting (where you vote for as many candidates as you like) or proportional voting (where you list the order of favorites) can allow a real choice, instead of this phantasm of two puffed up candidates and corps throwing money at TV spots masquerading as a democracy.
Approval voting also has very few bad ballots (even a blank ballot is valid) and it is largely resistant to dicking around with submitting ballots that don’t represent whom you want to win. It tends to result in a much more even handed candidate who wins, as in, few people hate him but not the first choice of many, instead of 49% of the people hate him. This would also emasculate the crazy fringe, and they know this. Getting voter reform through would be difficult, but pushing for it, even in a small way, is preferable to simply sticking your head in the sand in disgust.