We've heard the conventional wisdom that the poor slobs who vote Republican are foolishly voting against their own best interests. And lately, more and more disaffected progressives have decided that voting Democrat is also pretty much giving your seal of approval to just one more corrupt faction of the plutocracy.
So why vote for Democrats? According to Robert Parry, an Obama apologist from way back when, if you don't re-elect the president, the weight of the entire miserable world will be upon your shoulders. A vote for a third party, or just sitting out the election from pure disgust, is selfish and vain. Parry brings the "don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good" meme to a whole new desperate level. When you advocate for a politician solely because he is the lesser of two evils, desperation is pretty much all you've got as a campaign platform. Desperation, fear, and enough guilt offensive to make even the Vatican or a Jewish mother green with envy. Parry writes:
Americans, especially on the Left, need to get realistic about elections and stop using them as opportunities to express disappointment, anger or even personal morality. Through elections, Americans are the only ones who can select our national leaders, albeit in a limited fashion.
The rest of the world’s people have no say in who’s going to run the most powerful nation on earth. Only we can, at least to the extent permitted in the age of Citizens United . The main thing we can still do is stop the more dangerous major-party candidate from gaining control of the executive powers of the United States, including the commander-in-chief authority and the nuclear codes, not small things.
So, when we treat elections as if they are our moment to express ourselves, rather than to mitigate the damage that a U.S. president might inflict on the world, we are behaving selfishly, in my view. That’s why I used the word “vanity.” U.S. elections should not be primarily about us.
U.S. elections should really be about others – those people who are likely to feel the brunt of American power – Iraqis and Iranians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans, Vietnamese and Cambodians, Palestinians and Syrians, etc., etc. Elections also should be about future generations and the environment.So it's not the economy, stupid. It's the guilt!
Parry conveniently fails to mention that as assassinator in chief, Obama has already fomented plenty of fear and discomfort in the rest of the world. Although other countries were initially as infatuated with The One as we Americans were, that positive vibe started plummeting once the predator drones started buzzing in third world skies. Parry's claim that a vote for Obama will protect the great unwashed global masses does not hold water. From the Pew Global Attitudes Project:
There remains a widespread perception that the U.S. acts unilaterally and does not consider the interests of other countries. In predominantly Muslim nations, American anti-terrorism efforts are still widely unpopular. And in nearly all countries, there is considerable opposition to a major component of the Obama administration’s anti-terrorism policy: drone strikes. In 17 of 20 countries, more than half disapprove of U.S. drone attacks targeting extremist leaders and groups in nations such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.Meanwhile, the Obama Administration is appealing the ruling from a federal judge that bars the government from indefinitely detaining Americans that it deems to be associated with "militants". The government argues that since it has not heretofore subjected any citizens to its draconian policy, the plaintiffs in the case have no standing to complain -- they can't prove they have any reason to be afraid, because the president has not yet acted on his threats. Oral arguments on the case are scheduled for today.
But remember: if you vote against the politician who has unilaterally declared himself to be judge, jury and executioner of anyone, anywhere -- you're just being so damned vain. According to Parry, you just want to take the stupid high road when taking the low road is all we've got:
The hard decision is to support the imperfect candidate who has a real chance to win and who surely will do some rotten things but likely fewer rotten things than the other guy – and might even make some improvements.
I know that doesn’t “feel” as satisfying. One has to enter a morally ambiguous world. But that it is the world where many innocent people can be saved from horrible deaths (though not all) and where possibly actions can be taken to ensure that future generations are left a planet that is still habitable or at least with the worst effects of global warming avoided.Better to put your stamp of approval on killing thousands of innocents rather than tens of thousands of innocents. Sell out your principles, because you're screwed anyway. Romney the Worser. Keep fear alive. What a country.
This attitude is all the more unfortunate, because Parry is a well-respected, Polk Award-winning journalist who broke the Iran-Contra story for the Associated Press and also helped expose the atrocities of the Bush years. And he has been a harsh critic of the corporate media. In another article last year, he wrote:
One truism that I’ve learned about political and media survival in Washington is that it’s always smart to shift toward where the power lies. In effect, that is what “practical” politicians and journalists do. They venture only as far as they feel they can without creating undue political or career risks for themselves.
The hard truth is that until the Left gets onto the field in a much more serious way and starts engaging the Right in its “war of ideas” – including making major investments in media, think tanks and other means of getting information to the public – politicians will continue to disappoint and embitter the Left. So will mainstream journalists.How true. One more mainstream journalist shape-shifts and bites the dust as he abjures us to swallow his bitter pragmatic pill. Parry foretold his own sellout. Whatever happened to honest dissent? Whatever happened to adversarial journalism? Hangdog screeds like his only serve to instill chronic depression in the disaffected, when what we need is a giant jolt of caffeine.