Thursday, June 12, 2008

Support Nader now to make Obama Progressive later


     With just half a week having passed since Obama brought on Jason Furman, the man who in 2005 wrote a lengthy defense of Walmart entitled "Walmart: A Progressive Success Story", as his chief economic advisor, I think it's becoming more and more clear that progressives need to do something different this election cycle if we are hoping to get the change that our country so desperately needs. Do you remember the election of 2006? Do you remember all the "hope" we had then? Remember the claims and expectations that as soon as the Democrats regained power that this ridiculous war in Iraq would end and that Bush and his cronies would possibly be impeached and removed from office? On looking back, it seemed that we were all so naive to think that the Democrats would have done anything regarding these promises. Yet here we are again, in 2008, "hopeful" as usual. Why are things going to be different this time? Is it because Obama has a crack PR team and the good guess of his website crew that people would respond so positively to images of a politician who looks like he's coming out of the clouds like a god?

    I don't buy it, and I don't plan on being duped again this year. That is why I'm supporting (at least for now) the Nader/Gonzalez ticket. Despite the virtual complete blackout from the mainstream media, Nader is polled at a remarkable 6% of the electorate. This is considered an important number because many debate organizers have minimum thresholds of 5% of the vote to get to the debate. Can you imagine the impact of having Obama being forced to go up against Nader and McCain in a debate? Obama wouldn't be able to just slip by with arguing for centrist policies, he would actually have to commit to progressive positions. I think that getting Nader in the upcoming Presidential debates should be first priority for any Obama supporters out there. This is one of the easier ways for you to help Obama stay true to the progressive values that you assign to him and to actually give his campaign the substance that would make it deserving of the hope that so many seem to have in it.

    Again, it's pretty simple. If you are willing to vote for Obama, regardless of what his positions are as long as he is to the left of McCain, he is acting in the most rational way if he decides to go further to the right. In this way he picks up more conservative votes and doesn't have to worry about losing yours. Only if you give the impression that you won't vote for him if he doesn't make progressive changes in our government will he take to the time to actually do any of it. Remember, Obama has been in Washington for many years now and has he shaken up this illegal government? No, he's been rather passive. So why would you expect anything else if you don't force him to be different?

9 comments:

vjack said...

Very good points. You have given me much to think about with this one.

libhom said...

I don't understand the logic of voting for Nader. Every advantage that you get by voting for Nader (protest, pressure, etc.) you also get by voting for the Green candidate.

Also, by voting Green, you are helping to build something for the future, which really doesn't happen if you vote for Nader.

Nader isn't building anything.

Delta said...

That's a really good point libhom. To be honest I am on the fence between voting for Nader or voting for the Green party candidate. I actually haven't decided, but since Nader is the only one who is high enough in the polls to have even a tiny shot at getting into the debates I'm at least throwing him some support now.

In the end it's quite possible that I will vote Green, for precisely the reason that you give.

Carlton said...

(Note: just some points for discussion, not intending to be strident or a rant)

I don't understand why anyone, especially so-called "rationalists", would want to be more "progressive" (in the sense of to the "left"). This is the strict cause of all our current problems with diplomacy, economy and (lack of) freedom. Advocating that "Big Brother" watch out for it's citizens invariably leads to an authoritarian state, just further empowering religious pressure groups to establish theocracy.

It also must assume that government, and hence, politicians, are of a moral high-ground unknown to individual citizens -- sounds a lot like religion, to me!

Freethinkers, of all people, should see the irrationality of collectivist policies, which the Greens, certainly Nader and the Democrats push -- as do most modern Republicans.

It would be one thing to call Obama the lesser evil (I'm not so sure about this), but to actually advocate for "progressive"/altruist ideas is very confusing.

How can one disbelieve in a god and all the religious mumbo-jumbo, and yet believe in the moral farce that you are your brother's keeper? How can one advocate the separation of church and state, and yet also advocate for the intermingling of state and economy/society?

Why do so many "free"thinkers only advocate freedom of/from religion, and not simply individual freedom?

Mookie said...

I vote third party in presidential elections because I like options - variety is the spice of life.

The debate then becomes Nader (who always seems to run third party), or the green party candidate. One year I just flipped a coin.

Lately, though, I've been focusing on Nader. He's got more of a name behind him, has consistently and diligently worked on protecting consumers and the general public, and puts out a lot of informative - if poorly edited - literature. Yes, he is a bit long-winded in speeches, and can be kind of drab, but I think he has proven his worth, and knows enough about DC politics to make positive changes.

I agree with libhom, in that having a party behind the candidate, as we had in 2000 with Nader and the Greens, would mean the campaign funds go to something that will last. I wonder though if having Nader run alone is better, simply because more people might agree with him, and/or shun or eschew party politics.

I think this election I may resort to the coin again.

carlton,

Oh my.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_orwell#Political_views

Most pertinent:

"...his experience of poverty while researching Down and Out in Paris and London and The Road to Wigan Pier turned him into a socialist."

Secondly, authoritarian regimes are buttressed and supported by authoritarian people - both follower and leader personalities. These are behavioural characteristics and weltanschauungs that are very much at odds with progressive ideals. Die-hard Bush supporters are of the follower ilk, and McCain is a dead giveaway as having an authoritarian leader personality. One facet of authoritarianism is aggression, a leading cause of militarism and the MIC it feeds.

McCain is a war hawk and would almost certainly increase spending, military action/intervention, or both if elected. Furthermore, the MIC, to any would-be authoritarian dictator a source of great power and might, consumes about half of the taxes we pay, more than all "progressive" social services combined. Not only is the MIC more costly, it is not beholden to market forces - the aforementioned Nader literature can fill you in on this one. Moreover, the MIC is a much greater threat to our freedom than public roads, schools, and hospitals. So, essentially, a vote for McCain is a vote for the continuation and possible expansion of the tools of oppression.

Few more points to make: altruism does not exist, and you won't find any of us here advocate it. There is, however, an innate tendency for humans to be fair and sharing amongst peers and colleagues, not as a result of "socialist" or "collectivist" ideals. We evolved in the wild to work together in small bands in which everyone looked after everyone else. We did not evolve out of the jungle as greedy, selfish loners, we did it by cooperating and working together. We are primates,not lizards.

Leave it to a "communist" to say something like this:

“He bears the stamp of the species, determines his own goals according to the goals of the species, and seeks to be completely his own, solely in order to dedicate himself to the species with everything that he is and is capable of becoming.”

And leave it to Marx to retort:

“He bears the stamp of the species” (and who does not do so by the mere fact of his existence?), “determines his own goals according to the goals of the species” (as if the species were a person who could have goals) “and seeks to be completely his own, solely in order to dedicate himself to the species with everything that he is and is capable of becoming” (total self-sacrifice and self-abasement before a vaporous fantasy-concept).

carlton, I would suggest you go back to the drawing board, and please seriously consider NOT voting for McCain.

Stardust said...

Remember, Obama has been in Washington for many years now and has he shaken up this illegal government? No, he's been rather passive. So why would you expect anything else if you don't force him to be different?

I am one of those cynical votes who doesn't believe any of Obama's "change" rhetoric. I have been thinking about my options and feel that I have none. I am also skeptical that voting for Nader will do any good at all.

I don't want to vote for Obama simply because he has the Democratic label. He has flip-flopped on so many things, it's hard to believe a word that comes out of his mouth. He might say one thing today, and the total opposite tomorrow.

I still predict: hopeful people will be greatly disappointed when their candidate for "change" turns out to be just like any other politician. How can we trust him when he turns his back on a church he adamantly supported for 20 years (for his own political purposes), turns his back on friends for political gain, changes his support for Palestine to a total support for Israel. How can we trust anything he says? And where does that leave us? Basically, still the same.

With wimpy Democrats in Washington nothing has changed (we're only given excuses), and when Obama wins the White House...nothing will change. I would love to be optimistic, but I cannot. We don't know where Obama stands on anything...really. He could say one thing one day, then change his mind the next. You just never know. With McCain we know for sure nothing will change except in the increasing death toll in Iraq and probably war with Iran. (But Obama's recent tough talk and speech 100% supporting Israel also makes me nervous.)

Then there is this little item in the news today:

Sen. Barack Obama's announcement Thursday that he won't participate in the public financing system for this fall's general election was no big surprise. He has been telegraphing the move for months. But it is disappointing nevertheless, particularly for a candidate who claims to be running as a reformer and a different kind of politician.

In this case, Obama is choosing to be different by becoming the first presidential candidate to spurn public financing since Richard Nixon's excesses led to its creation. That's not the sort of change voters expected when he pledged last fall to "aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election."

*snip*

He's way ahead of McCain in that respect — but he's hardly the influence-free candidate he styles himself as. One-third of his money comes from the sort of big donors and bundlers whose influence public financing is designed to lessen.

Obama's pledge to reform the campaign-finance system after he gets elected reminds us of St. Augustine's famous prayer: "Lord, make me chaste — but not yet."

Real reformers don't do it just when it's convenient. The best way for Obama to support public financing is not to fix it later, but to participate in it now.


Call me cynical, but we're basically screwed.

Carlton said...

@mookie: Whoa, I never said I was voting McCain. I disagree with the vast majority of his stuff. My issue is why freethinkers think Obama or (how the hell?) Nader is a *good* candidate? You may be able to argue that Obama is a lesser evil, but, he's not good for the economy -- Nader is worse. I was rooting for Ron Paul, voted for him in the primaries (although I don't agree with him 100%).

Fine, vote third-party, but not for the Greens! What about the LP? I don't agree with them on some key issues, but they seem to me to be the best of the third parties. Voted for them in 2004 and probably will again.

Nader is a huge hypocrite (I'd argue his ideas are wrong anyhow). I suggest investigating into just how he gets/hides his money, the fact that he doesn't allow the people that work for him to be parts of unions, gives them very long shifts and pays crappily and lots more. He hasn't done anything for consumers except drive up the costs -- regulation is not required for quality control (Rothbard, Mises will explain this and why it actually makes it all *worse* in the long run) just free market capitalism and private groups like Consumer Reports.

@stardust: I agree, we are basically screwed. You also mention the whole deal with "trusting" what a president says. This is the big issue I have with increasing government spending/regulation/control which gives it more power: the issue is not whether we can trust the government, but why should we? Their power should be so limited as to not be able to do anything without willful contribution from citizens, and their scope should be so minuscule to not physically initiate harm on any single individual citizen (such as the rape that is called income tax).

Mookie said...

carlton,

The "free" market is more an abstraction than a reality. Rothbard and Mises are rotten old men with some nasty ideas. No, the LP is a lost cause, and what americans call libertarianism amounts to greedy whining and corporate apologetics (see: Rothbard and Mises, and link below).

http://www.theartofthepossible.net/2008/03/10/libertarian-self-marginalization/

Here's an article about Rothbard that probably pisses both of us off, but for different reasons:

http://www.bradspangler.com/blog/archives/473

Tramor Zool said...

5% of the popular vote doesn't allow a spot in the debates. Those debates are governed by rules set for by the FEC, which does not include such a provision. The debates are done by invitation only, with no numerical requirement.

The 5% benchmark is significant because it qualifies a candidate for federal campaign financing. This is sham though. The benchmark use to be 3%. That is, until Nader got 3% of the vote and they raised it to 5% after the fact.

If you want Nader in the debates, don't campaign for Nader. Petition the FEC. They are the gatekeepers. Nader has said as much, notably in his interviews in the movie "An Unreasonable Man."