Monday, November 5, 2012

Warning! Politics!

I don't usually get political on Things That Don't Suck, but there is one thing I must make clear.

If you lived through Bush V. Gore, and you're still giving those tired lines like "There's no real difference between the two parties," or  "Withdrawing in disgust is not the same as apathy." You have express written permission to kiss my ass.

Thank you for your time.


Anonymous said...

Hi, Bryce. I probably won't be wanting to kiss your posterior, permission or no...but, as I respect and enjoy your writing, I thought a reply might be worthwhile. I de-registered myself from the voting rolls in the wake of the first Gulf War, believing that the American political process had become so utterly corrupted by money and sophistry that I couldn't possibly carry on tacitly legitimizing it through internal participation. (I have since emigrated, and am seeking citizenship elsewhere.)

I won't deny that an Obama presidency has been, and will continue to be, marginally more "progressive" than one nominally run by that robotic vampire Haircut, Mitt Romney; but on the other hand, many of Obama's top military and financial advisors have been holdovers from the Bush administration...and then there's the Kill List, and Gitmo, and the continued suspension of habeas corpus, and the failure to pursue torture prosecutions, and the increasingly pervasive Surveillance State (etc., etc., et alia)...and so, for me, as much contempt as I hold for Romney and his soul-starved, blood-sucking ilk, I could not possibly bring myself to vote for Obama. Were I still registered, I might have voted for Jill Stein...or perhaps written in Julian Assange, just to be snotty...but we'll all be several feet deep under water before the Green Party is a major political force, and thus a vote for them (or any other "third party") is really pretty quixotic and pragmatically idle.

If I still thought that the American polity was worth saving, I'd be agitating for a new constitutional it is, I've left Mordor behind, and haven't had a moment's regret since I did so several years ago.

Bryce Wilson said...

Hey Anon,

I can respect this position. But I still believe that abstaining is not only an ineffective form of protest but one that the powers that be are banking on.

Obama is certainly not a perfect President, but I believe that politics is the art of the possible, and with the most obstructionist legislature in modern history this is more true than ever.

Do I wish that Gitmo was closed, and that there was a stronger reputation of Bush Era spy techniques, you bet. Do those things still have a better chance of happening under Obama than Romney. Yes.

I think John Scalzi summed up my position rather well when he (I'm paraphrasing) said if you have a choice between imperfect competence and out and out malevolence (And though I'm obviously not saying that all conservatism is malevolent, I quite like Andrew Sullivan for example, I believe the predominant Randian/NeoCon strain of the last decade and a half HAVE been) , then you have nothing less but a moral imperative to vote for competence.

The thing that puzzles me about the discussions I've had with you and other libertarian (I don't know that you're libertarian, but the point stands either way) is that the rights attacks on Civil Liberties, everything from Gay Marriage to Reproductive Rights has been so blatant, that to my mind we're clearly common, if strange, bedfellows in this election. I may not like everything Obama has done, but at no point has he even approached the type of concentrated attack on personal freedom, shown by The Right.

And though this is beside the point (remember I didn't actually say who to vote for in the original post) I do think Obama has made things better. Obamacare isn't the public option, but its a first step that has been overdue since at least the Nixon administration. I do think that ending Don't Ask Don't Tell and endorsing Gay Marriage have had positive effects on the country (look at the victories of the state ballots if you don't believe me) I do believe ending our presence in Iraqi and finally killing Bin Laden have made our country safer, I do believe that subsidizing Green Energy is a boon and I do believe that rewarding the manufacturing sector is the trick to getting a strong middle class back. And I fervently believe that exactly none of those things would have happened or would continue under Republican leadership.

Anyway we've wandered pretty far a field, at the end of the day, I see where you're coming from, but I stand by my statement.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Bryce. I wasn’t entirely sure that you’d even notice my comment, let alone take the time and effort to make a thoughtful reply. Thanks, then, for your response. For what little it’s worth, I don’t regard myself as a libertarian (although I ran an ACLU office once a week, as a student volunteer, way back in the early 70’s when I was in high school). If anything, I’d tend to identify myself as a European-style “social democrat”, bordering on a full-on socialist. (If I were emperor of the world, my first edict would be to declare a maximum wage/income, no more than 5 times the minimum.) As far as a substantive rejoinder is concerned, however…and yes, by the way, I equally respect your position and genuinely appreciate where you’re coming from…I certainly can’t deny that Obama and his party are the lesser of two evils. Yes, they’re way better on gay and other minority rights, on green energy and global climate concerns, on health care, on tax equity, etc., etc., etc. [Not exactly GOOD, in my view, but certainly way better. And yes, the Republicans have virtually sold their souls to radical fundamentalist jihadists and doctrinaire Randians, whereas the Democratic stance is (again, by European standards) something like moderate right-centrist in most cases, and thus far more palatable for any rational person.] However, I’d point out that nearly all of the things that I’m MOST concerned about with regard to Obama’s stewardship thus far, including the retention of Gitmo, the explicit authorization of assassination [even Reagan prohibited it by executive order], the refusal to pursue torture prosecutions, the continued suspension of habeas corpus, the ever-growing expansion of surveillance powers, etc., etc., etc., is that reversal of such policies does not actually require congressional cooperation, but rather, could have been accomplished through direct executive order alone. Likewise for the ongoing bloodbath [and Al-Qaeda recruiting operation] in Afghanistan, and the continued (albeit deliberately lower-profile) presence in Iraq (and elsewhere). Yes, Obama might have paid a political price for some of these actions, had he undertaken them, especially for hanging tough on the closure of Guantanamo…but that’s what moral courage is all about. [More to come.]

Anonymous said...

As it is, nearly all of the most important protections of the Bill of Rights have been effectively suspended, in a self-styled “War on Terror” that has no foreseeable end…and if I’m not at all comforted by the uses that the Obama administration has made of these potentially despotic powers, I am positively terrified by the uses to which a future jihadist/Randian presidency might put them. Moreover, while I feel moderately safer with the lower-profile involvement in Iraq, I am genuinely sickened and outraged by the outright cold-blooded murder of Bin Laden in his bed (or in the hallway of his home, or whatever might actually be the case). Not that I have ANY brief on behalf of Bin Laden…he was, after all, a cold-blooded mass-murderer of non-combatants, and by his own hideously unabashed admission, at that…but, as a professional ethicist, I would rather strenuously maintain that the demands of morality require that even the most heinous criminal be apprehended unharmed and brought before the bar of justice, so far as this is even remotely possible, rather than summarily executed in a pre-planned act of cold-blooded assassination. (I very strongly suspect, by the way, that Bin Laden was “eliminated” in the manner that he was, precisely because U.S. policy-makers would very definitely not want a public trial in which certain facts about Bin Laden’s long-standing connections with the CIA [going back to those halcyon “Rambo III” days], not to mention his views on the real reasons for the first Gulf War, would come out in open court. Not that any of this makes Bin Laden one whit less guilty of some exceedingly heinous crimes…but a proper trial might have put his actions into a more intelligible context, which the U.S. government would no doubt prefer not to have highlighted for public discussion.) In sum, then: if Obama and the Democrats are, indeed, a lesser evil than Romney and the Republicans, they’re still too great an evil for me to support with an affirmative vote, especially within a system that has become so utterly corrupted by greed, power, and crackpot ideology. [Yet more to come.]

Anonymous said...

One further point: I can only speak for my own case…but in my own case, my abstention isn’t (and hasn’t been) intended as a protest….it has simply been a matter of opting out of a system that I regard as fatally corrupt and dishonest. (A choice between two candidates chosen by different ideological factions of Big Money isn’t all that much of a democratic choice, to my mind.) As such, moreover, I don’t regard voting, or abstaining from voting, as much of an authentic political act at all; indeed, all too many folks go to the voting booth, cast their vote for the status quo, and then regard themselves as having discharged their duty as citizens…when, perhaps, all they’ve really done is add another small brick to the Wall. Real political participation, as I see it, involves working to dismantle the status quo, and to restore the Constitution, rather than merely to ratify the current situation. (And no, I’m NOT advocating violent revolution, or surreptitious acts of sabotage, or other destructive approaches. That would only exacerbate the problem. Rather, political action I’d call for involves exposing and reversing the growing Surveillance and Secrecy/Black-Ops State while it’s still possible, and [as we used to say back in the Olden Days] “raising consciousness” at every available opportunity, in order to achieve a more just and humane world and polity.)

Slainte!, Anon.

Anonymous said...

I like your blog and enjoy your writings but after reading this short snippet: seriously, fuck you.

Bryce Wilson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bryce Wilson said...

I do appriciate the invitation but anonymous sex is just an invitation to STDs. Try signing your name next time. Coward.

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