Why I'm holding my nose (and voting for O)

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Why I'm holding my nose (and voting for O)

Post  Fukshot on Mon Aug 06, 2012 10:53 pm

Sorry Gendo, I couldn't help myself.

I'm taking this as an opportunity to actually have the discussion that we have never quite had because it only came out in pieces as a fight in the middle of someone else's threads on another forum.

I despise Barack Obama's economic policies. I lived through Reagan the first time and that was bad enough. I despise Barack Obama's foreign policy. I've lived through decades and decades of American imperialist wars and interventions and "support" on behalf of murderous corporate interests and desperately wish that they would end. In my entire life, 4 years (Carter) were slightly better on that count, but not by very much.

So why would I vote for Obama?

I live in a center-right nation where political power has been solidly held by corporate interest for my entire life. There have been moments of hope and enthusiasm for things to be different, but not many. Some aspects seem to be getting worse. I don't see any way my vote will disrupt that pattern. I don't see how refusing to vote will do anything to disrupt that pattern either.

Right now, the even-farther-right-and-more-corporate elements in the US are hoping to regain power. They are employing open appeals to racism and homophobia and misogyny to gain power. They are fomenting hatred specifically aimed at Obama because he is black. They are stirring up the worst in a nation that is really only moderately bad and not always thoroughly evil, and they hope to gain power from this.

I am voting for Obama to vote against this strategy used by the far-right. To pretend that a racist, misogynist, homophobic, theocratic, imperialist oligarchy is the same as an oligarchy that is merely imperialist and less-racist is, in my eyes, just as delusional as pretending an imperialist oligarchy is a proper democracy. Defeating race-baiting and queer-baiting and slut-shaming as effective tools to wield power does real good in the world. It may even do some good to break the chokehold that those tools currently have on the working classes in the US. Moving towards that (in the grand scheme of things) small victory is something I can see a way to support in the here and now.

A unidimensional Marxist analysis of the situation yields no immediately effective levers to pull to change the situation, given the extent to which the vast majority of people are pacified with "entertainment" and distracted with "social issues". Breaking the effective use of "social issues" (which Marx had the class, race, and gender privilege to dismiss as actually impactful on human lives in his analysis) as an effective tool would be a huge leap forward in the fight to effect a real class consciousness in contemporary political discourse. I see the defeat of the current incarnation of no-holds-barred appeals to prejudice as a real step towards that goal.

That's why I'm voting for Obama, much as I don't like him.

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Re: Why I'm holding my nose (and voting for O)

Post  Progurt on Mon Aug 06, 2012 11:16 pm

Reasons I'm not voting for Obama:
Why I'm probably not voting for Obama a second time
Nationalism, Political Parties, and Team Sports
Russ Feingold is right about Obama's SuperPAC surrender
Obama's Kill Doctrine
"I Met a 16-Year-Old Kid. 3 Days Later Obama Killed Him."

Short answer, I don't have a minimum number of dead foreigners I'll accept in return for tepid and grudging support of my domestic policy goals. You'll note socialism is never mentioned, but dismissing me as an ideological marxist makes it easier for centrist liberals to ignore the glaring contradictions and hypocrisy of their own positions.

We're told that people on the left should support Obama no matter what because by doing so we'll keep things moving incrementally to the left. This is demonstrably false. The people with the campaign money are on the right, and the politicians go and have gone where the money is, which is why the country's been moving right for decades now. Especially with regard to civil liberties, Obama has done things that, were they done by Bush, would have outraged the left from 2000-2008. Since it's Obama doing it, people either make excuses for it, or convince themselves that they support it. This turns my stomach. It's a nauseating display.

I'm amused that the LGC so greatly misses having dissenters to kick around that all it's authoritarians have to come here to pick fights. I'm sure the others will be along shortly, as soon as they figure out how to create a login. Allow me to suggest instead looking at Huffington Post for your ideological arguing needs.

(I notice none of these new trolls are making introduction threads)
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Re: Why I'm holding my nose (and voting for O)

Post  Fukshot on Mon Aug 06, 2012 11:22 pm

I was referring to myself as a Marxist.

I thought we'd have a conversation. Nevermind.


Last edited by Progurt on Mon Aug 06, 2012 11:38 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Meant to hit quote and hit edit instead, sorry.)

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Re: Why I'm holding my nose (and voting for O)

Post  gendoikari87 on Mon Aug 06, 2012 11:28 pm

Look. here's the deal. Any problems you may have are dwarfed by the simple fact that we no longer live in a real democracy. We live in a state that has been raided by corporate interests and now that they've sucked it dry they are completing the liquidation of the nation in what has got to be the greatest corporate raid in history. We're staring down the barrel of a "right wing" police state with "leftists" in power. We're staring at smiling fascist empire, where freedom is a joke at best or worst, a fading memory. We're headed for generations of tyranny worse than anything we've seen since the 1930's unless we get at least campaign finance reform passed, and even that isn't going to stop us. We're headed for outright bloodshed on the streets of america in one way, shape or form if nothing is done to stop the rightward shift of the "leftist" party. so excuse me for focusing on trying to save the sinking ship, instead of noticing the nice shiny polish on new deck.
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Re: Why I'm holding my nose (and voting for O)

Post  Fukshot on Mon Aug 06, 2012 11:37 pm

So Gendo, what exactly are you going to do to avert this disaster you (quite possibly correctly) predict?

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Re: Why I'm holding my nose (and voting for O)

Post  gendoikari87 on Mon Aug 06, 2012 11:39 pm

Fukshot wrote:So Gendo, what exactly are you going to do to avert this disaster you (quite possibly correctly) predict?
Everything I can to get the left to realize we won't stand for the rightward shift. But I will fail because of people who will vote for Obama out of some sense of some marginal progress, and we will continue to move right, and we will end up collapsing because of it. But at least I will be prepared, and I will have at least TRIED to stop it.
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Re: Why I'm holding my nose (and voting for O)

Post  Progurt on Mon Aug 06, 2012 11:43 pm

Fukshot wrote:I was referring to myself as a Marxist.

I thought we'd have a conversation. Nevermind.
No you didn't. You came over here to shill for your team, making the exact same argument you've made to us already that we've rejected. We're over here because we reject it, and you knew that. You came here to start shit just like Inquisitor did, and like the others doubtless on their way to follow you.

A conversation? We've had "conversations" already. No thanks.

I expect gendo will humor you, he's got a lot higher tolerance for pointless debates with partisans than I do, I'm done.
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Re: Why I'm holding my nose (and voting for O)

Post  gendoikari87 on Mon Aug 06, 2012 11:44 pm

Progurt wrote:
Fukshot wrote:I was referring to myself as a Marxist.

I thought we'd have a conversation. Nevermind.
No you didn't. You came over here to shill for your team, making the exact same argument you've made to us already that we've rejected. We're over here because we reject it, and you knew that. You came here to start shit just like Inquisitor did, and like the others doubtless on their way to follow you.

A conversation? We've had "conversations" already. No thanks.

I expect gendo will humor you, he's got a lot higher tolerance for pointless debates with partisans than I do, I'm done.
I have a thick skull so banging my head against a brick wall doesn't hurt as much.
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Re: Why I'm holding my nose (and voting for O)

Post  lemur_ on Mon Aug 06, 2012 11:59 pm

Fukshot wrote:
I thought we'd have a conversation.

We've heard you and found your arguments unconvincing.
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Re: Why I'm holding my nose (and voting for O)

Post  7N6Wolf on Wed Aug 08, 2012 7:40 pm

Why should any of us vote for Obama when he represents the interests of the capitalist class, i.e. fundamentally speaking, he is no different than the Republicans? The "progressive" Democrats worked to create the Draconian, anti-union Taft-Hartley Act. The "progressive" democrats also have used this anti-union legislation more than the Republicans have.

And why would a "progressive" like Obama get so much bourgeois funding:

http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/contrib.php?cid=N00009638

Surely, the capitalist class is not stupid, and they would never invest their money in a candidate that opposed their interests.

The problem with playing "lesser evil" politics is that one always ends up with "evil" in the end. Our task is to expose the reactionary policies of Obama, not to "tail-end" the people supporting him.

Unfortunately, very few people learn from books, logic, arguments, etc. Instead, if they learn at all, they slowly learn through the experience of life. Millions of workers are going to have to go through the "school" of the democrats in order to see first-hand that Obama represents nothing more than G.W. Bush's third term. A good deal of the "Obamamania" of 2008 was indicative of a healthy rejection of the policies of G.W. Bush, but these people are slowly learning that we cannot make any gains under the two party system in the USA (these two Wall Street parties act more like two right wings of one property party).

The Democrats are far more dangerous than the Republicans in that they are often able to dupe workers into accepting reactionary policies, some of which the Republicans could not get away with imposing. Let us also not forget that the Democrats essentially saved Scott Walker by diverting the movement against him into channels which do not threaten the capitalist class:

http://www.socialistappeal.org/analysis/us-politics/1040-want-to-beat-scott-walker-build-a-labor-party-
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Re: Why I'm holding my nose (and voting for O)

Post  Progurt on Wed Aug 08, 2012 7:58 pm

Welcome 7N6Wolf! Good points.

I've been reading Anarcho-Syndicalism Theory and Practice (link to a PDF of the full text) by Rudolf Rocker, and he makes a number of good points throughout it on the dangers of trusting bourgeois liberals and the parliamentary political process.

An example from Page 88 that really stuck with me, emphasis mine:
Participation in the politics of the bourgeois states has not brought the labour movement a hairs' breadth closer to Socialism, but, thanks to this method, Socialism has almost been completely crushed and condemned to insignificance. The ancient proverb: "Who eats of the pope, dies of him," has held true in this content also; who eats of the state is ruined by it. Participation in parliamentary politics has affected the Socialist labour movement like an insidious poison. It destroyed the belief in the necessity of constructive Socialist activity and, worst of all, the impulse to self-help, by inoculating people with the ruinous delusion that salvation always comes from above.
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Re: Why I'm holding my nose (and voting for O)

Post  Progurt on Wed Aug 08, 2012 8:39 pm

Something else from "Anarcho-Syndicalism: Theory and Practice" that is quite relevant to the idea that voting for a political party will result in extra rights:
But the point of attack in the political struggle lies, not in the legislative bodies, but in the people. Political rights do not originate in parliaments; they are, rather, forced on parliaments from without. And even their enactment into law has for a long time been no guarantee of their security. Just as the employers always try to nullify every concession they had made to labour as soon as opportunity offered, as soon as any signs of weakness were observable in the workers' organisations, so governments also are always inclined to restrict or to abrogate completely rights and freedoms that have been achieved if they imagine that the people will put up no resistance. Even in these countries where such things as freedom of the press, right of assembly, right of combination and the like have long existed, governments are constantly trying to restrict these rights or to reinterpret them by juridical hair-splitting.

Political rights do not exist because they have been legally set down on a piece of paper, but only when they have become the ingrown habit of a people, and when any attempt to impair them will meet with the violent resistance of the populace. Where this is not the case, there is no help in any parliamentary Opposition or any Platonic appeals to the constitution. One compels respect from others when he knows how to defend his dignity as a human being. This is not only true in private life, it has always been the same in political life as well.
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Re: Why I'm holding my nose (and voting for O)

Post  Fukshot on Wed Aug 08, 2012 9:41 pm

Progurt wrote:Something else from "Anarcho-Syndicalism: Theory and Practice" that is quite relevant to the idea that voting for a political party will result in extra rights:
But the point of attack in the political struggle lies, not in the legislative bodies, but in the people. Political rights do not originate in parliaments; they are, rather, forced on parliaments from without. And even their enactment into law has for a long time been no guarantee of their security. Just as the employers always try to nullify every concession they had made to labour as soon as opportunity offered, as soon as any signs of weakness were observable in the workers' organisations, so governments also are always inclined to restrict or to abrogate completely rights and freedoms that have been achieved if they imagine that the people will put up no resistance. Even in these countries where such things as freedom of the press, right of assembly, right of combination and the like have long existed, governments are constantly trying to restrict these rights or to reinterpret them by juridical hair-splitting.

Political rights do not exist because they have been legally set down on a piece of paper, but only when they have become the ingrown habit of a people, and when any attempt to impair them will meet with the violent resistance of the populace. Where this is not the case, there is no help in any parliamentary Opposition or any Platonic appeals to the constitution. One compels respect from others when he knows how to defend his dignity as a human being. This is not only true in private life, it has always been the same in political life as well.

I couldn't agree more.

Near as I can tell, I can distill our disagreement down to a question (obviously asked from my point of view): What harm do I do to my cause by making a nearly insignificant effort (going to the poll and checking a box) to game the system, assuming that I am not fooled in to believing that the effort is not a way to fix the things that are actually wrong, but a way to influence the playing field such that the dominant culture's conversation might be shifted enough to allow room for the discussion of issues that the current system ignores? Especially if I also engage in other efforts to better the world and to un-do the evils of corporate capitalism, what harm does my act of voting do?

If I cannot expect anything but to die in vain, if I jump up and grab my guns and scream that "The revolution starts now!", I will pull the few levers at my disposal to move things forward. Does not voting accomplish something that would serve the cause better? Are we arguing about what is the most ethical way to sit and do nothing, as Gendo's comment seems to suggest?

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Re: Why I'm holding my nose (and voting for O)

Post  gendoikari87 on Wed Aug 08, 2012 9:53 pm

what harm does my act of voting do?
It provides positive feedback for the rightward shift, thereby causing an even further shift in the "left" party. This in turn gives more free reign for the right party to move ever more dangerously to the right.

That's what's been happening for the last 40 years.

If I cannot expect anything but to die in vain, if I jump up and grab my guns and scream that "The revolution starts now!", I will pull the few levers at my disposal to move things forward.
are you actively suggesting that something like that be done? because that would be illegal. Well I don't know if it'd be illegal but they'd throw your ass in jail anyway.
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Re: Why I'm holding my nose (and voting for O)

Post  Progurt on Wed Aug 08, 2012 10:12 pm

Basically what gendo says, it legitimizes the system. If voting won't really accomplish anything, but people are told that it will, then by voting they think that they're making a difference, and they stop trying there. And, too often, when their team leader fails to get anything done that they'd see as meaningful progress (because progress is not the goal, maintenance of the status quo is), too often they go to the other team, bouncing back and forth between Red and Blue.

Playing the political game does not work for socialists or anarchists, it never has. Even in the 1930s when Rudolf Rocker was writing Anarcho-Syndicalism, he had a hundred years of history to look back on. We've got even more now. The neutering of the Labor movement in the US into a tool for raising money and votes for bourgeoisie candidates is a great and recent example. And like in other countries, the rights gifted to the Labor movement by the government, the illusory progress they made, was rescinded as soon as the capitalists could manage it.

Your options are not limited to violent revolution or meaningless voting. We need to educate and raise class consciousness, because as workers we have all the power when we stand together. The General Strike is a tool whose value has been forgotten of late, especially in our society and with the economic situations that the Republicans and Democrats have worked together to put on us. The Democrats put a lot of effort into co-opting the Occupy Movement because they saw the massive opportunity for socialist education it represented. The only place violence should have in our revolution is in self defense against violent reactionaries, like in anarchist spain in the aftermath of the fascist military coup.
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Re: Why I'm holding my nose (and voting for O)

Post  Progurt on Wed Aug 08, 2012 10:27 pm

Hell, the only reason I encourage people to back Gary Johnson is so that when he loses, they will see the futility of the system and be more inclined to see reform and change from outside of the system.
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Re: Why I'm holding my nose (and voting for O)

Post  gendoikari87 on Wed Aug 08, 2012 10:31 pm

I promote gary so that when obama looses they will see why, and adjust to a more progressive stance. I.E. grow some balls.
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Re: Why I'm holding my nose (and voting for O)

Post  Fukshot on Wed Aug 08, 2012 11:43 pm

So consciousness raising and hoping that inspires general strikes? Those are the acceptable tools at our disposal?

(and no, I wasn't actually advocating violence in my previous post)

I haven't seen much large-scale result from my 25 years of consciousness raising work, although that doesn't mean I'm stopping.

Elections don't change the larger issues we care about, but I'm not sure that a few thousand reds refusing to vote does any more or less to impact the progress of the overton window. Defeating the Atwater/Rove strategy (which the 2012 election is the most concrete referendum on since Nixon) might just slow that advance. The Atwater/Rove strategy has never been so naked and defeating it at its aruguably strongest moment might help change the conversation in the public space in a way that makes class consciousness on a broader scale more possible.

You say "social issues" are used to divide, so ignore them. Perhaps I am suggesting that in the current context, defeating them may well help a larger segment of the population "ignore them".

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Re: Why I'm holding my nose (and voting for O)

Post  rolandson on Thu Aug 09, 2012 1:04 am

I am not...holding my nose and voting for O...I am voting my conscience. Thought about selling it to the highest bidder but a conscience isn't bringing much these days and a vote is worth even less...figured I would give it to whom ever I please and not give a shit about what someone else has to say about it.

Got a call from a friend looking for money. She happens to be the Oregon Sec.of State...known her for about 20 years. Told her this year that every nickel that I could give to a political campaign this year is going to the Oregon Food Bank instead. She sounded disappointed but trying to cover it with the 'good for you' thing

I am voting with both my vote, which someday may make a difference, and my dollars which do make a difference. Funny, a dollar given to a campaign buys 1/1000 of a second of air time or 1 pixel...that same dollar given to a food bank buys 3 cans of food.

I don't see any difference between O and mittens anyway.

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Re: Why I'm holding my nose (and voting for O)

Post  Progurt on Thu Aug 09, 2012 7:59 am

rolandson wrote:Got a call from a friend looking for money. She happens to be the Oregon Sec.of State...known her for about 20 years. Told her this year that every nickel that I could give to a political campaign this year is going to the Oregon Food Bank instead. She sounded disappointed but trying to cover it with the 'good for you' thing

I am voting with both my vote, which someday may make a difference, and my dollars which do make a difference. Funny, a dollar given to a campaign buys 1/1000 of a second of air time or 1 pixel...that same dollar given to a food bank buys 3 cans of food.
Good point, political campaign money just enriches the media, charitable donation money enriches the world.

And I have an automatic monthly deduction to Planned Parenthood, and yearly membership donations to the Human Rights Campaign and the ACLU.
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Re: Why I'm holding my nose (and voting for O)

Post  comedian on Thu Aug 09, 2012 11:07 am

George Orwell once wrote that everyone who was British supported the Empire. It was unavoidable. Every cup of tea you drank, everytime you burned coal to heat your home, you supported imperialism.
But he also wrote that while you supported the ruling class by participating in an unjust system merely by participating in an economy that was heavily weighted in the exploiters' favor, that did not mean that you had to endorse it by voting for one of their parties.
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Re: Why I'm holding my nose (and voting for O)

Post  Fukshot on Thu Aug 09, 2012 11:25 am

Orwell wrote that before television, before the cold war, and in a society with a class mythology and a class dynamic completely different from our own. While I respect many of his opinions, I don't think "because one of our heros said so" is an adequate argument for a course of action now.

The huge level of voter non-participation in the US certainly hasn't undermined the power of the government. Given the number of people who have died to provide us with the luxury of this communication (electricity, material resources, etc) I hardly think voting makes my hands any dirtier.

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Re: Why I'm holding my nose (and voting for O)

Post  comedian on Thu Aug 09, 2012 11:35 am

Not so much a " one of our heroes said so" moment as to point out that this situation has arose in the past and Orwell expressed a view that I share in an eloquent fashion.
If you want to pull the lever for obama, then do it. I won't condemn your decision. I'm just telling you why I won't.

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Re: Why I'm holding my nose (and voting for O)

Post  lemur_ on Thu Aug 09, 2012 11:50 am

There's a popular narrative among liberal gun owners that Democrats cannot move to impose stricter gun control anymore because they are aware that it has cost them elections. This would be proof that the strategy of withdrawing support from the Democratic party can get them to change their political platform. Moreover, by this narrative the action of those who would have voted Democrat but did not now allows Democrats to argue that talk of gun control among Democrat politicians at the federal level is just talk. In other words, those Democrats now arguing that the Democratic party is not a real threat to gun ownership have benefited from the actions of those who withdrew their support.

And yet, when we suggest withdrawing our support so that the Democratic party changes their political platform to move to the left we are called naive, idealistic, unrealistic, purists, etc.

Funny how that works.
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Re: Why I'm holding my nose (and voting for O)

Post  rolandson on Thu Aug 09, 2012 12:22 pm

I think perhaps I wasn't as precise with my use of language as I intended.

NDAA pretty much did it for me. After my disgust over O-Care, his reluctance to end DADT by executive order and the failure to pursue the blatant corruption of the bush admin., I had lost all hope. NDAA solidified my distrust.

My conscience tells me that casting my vote for O is functionally equivalent to casting it for mittens. This time, I am voting my conscience: Ross Carl Anderson, without concern over how my liberal comrades feel or think. If doing so costs O the election by sapping votes, it's on him. I didn't expect him to win every battle, I expected him to show up for the fight.

Holding my nose makes it difficult to breath.


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