Irreparable Damage, Voting Subjects, & Direct Action

I get the feeling that Barack Obama has done irreparable damage to the political left. So many Americans genuinely believed in and were excited by his message of hope and change. I bet even many people from the political right voted for him.

There was such a profound sense of disappointment and betrayal once he had been in office for a while. It turned out he was just another professional politician and that the hype had meant very little. He continued many of the same policies from the Bush administration. Worse still, he passed healthcare reform that was originally a Republican idea which favored insurance and drug companies, rather than the leftist single payer reform most Americans wanted.

Obama’s presidency has made many Americans far more cynical than they’ve been in a long time. No one expects Republicans to genuinely care about the poor and needy, to fight for the rights and opportunities of the lower classes. But many do expect this from Democrats, however naïve that might be.

I know of those who supported Obama in 2008. Some of them now support Clinton, Obama’s nemesis back then. The heir of hope and change is Bernie Sanders. Yet many have lost faith that hope and change is possible. It’s not just fear of Trump. These Clinton supporters, in many cases, have simply resigned themselves to the notion that Clinton is the best that the Democratic party will ever offer. It’s either take that pathetic choice or get nothing at all, so it seems from this jaded mindset.

Older voters, in particular, feel wary about trusting that genuine progress and reform is possible. They don’t want to be betrayed again. They’d rather go for the cynical choice because at least that way they’ll know what they’re getting. When cynicism overtakes the citizenry, that is the most dangerous moment for a democracy.

That is what Sanders is fighting against.

* * *

For US citizens, voting is a right. But it is also a privilege.

For one thing, not all US citizens have the right to vote, besides the young. Convicts and many ex-cons don’t have the right to vote. Many others who technically have the right to vote are politically disenfranchised and demoralized in various ways, by both parties in elections and in the presidential nomination process.

Another issue is that, for all intents and purposes, the US is an empire. Most of the people directly and indirectly effected by US policy aren’t voting US citizens. Who and what you support with your vote impacts not only non-voting Americans but also billions of people around the world.

This includes millions harmed, millions made homeless refugees, millions starving, and millions killed. Those impacted, mostly innocent victims, come from wars, including wars of aggression, proxy wars, and drug wars; CIA covert operations, such as inciting of governments coups, propped-up puppet dictators, US-backed authoritarian regimes, arming of paramilitaries, and School of the Americas military training; post-colonial resource exploitation, unfree trade agreements, US-aligned IMF-enforced austerity policies, and harmful sanctions; et cetera.

As a subject of the empire, you benefit greatly from US policies. It is other people, mostly poor and brown people, mostly in other countries that have to pay the full costs of these imperial benefits.

You are never making merely a personal decision when you vote. You are part of a privileged class of people on this planet. Your vote matters and the results are powerful. This is true, even as the system is rigged against American voters. The last thing you should ever do is support a candidate who supports the corrupt status quo of neoliberalism and neoconservatism.

We Americans should take all of this much more seriously. For those who have personally experienced US power, this isn’t idle campaign rhetoric. What is at stake is their lives, their families, and their communities. This isn’t about your party or candidate winning. It’s about morality and justice. Be sure you’re on the right side of history. You are complicit in what you support. Choose wisely.

* * *

When I was a child, I played soccer. My main talents were that I could run fast and take pain. I often played defense because I was good at stopping things. I demonstrated this talent during one game when in elementary school. I was probably playing halfback that day, as it requires a lot of running around. A halfback’s purpose is to be a go-between, to go where and do what is needed. It requires adaptability to the situation, whether defense or offense is required.

Anyway, in whatever position I was in, it was further up the field. The game had just begun. The other team had the ball. One of their players dropped it back and got out of the way. A giant girl came forward and kicked the ball all the way down the field. She was their one great weapon. It forced everyone on my team to immediately run back down the field. After a second time of this, many on my team were already running before the ball went flying. After observing this predictable situation, a brilliant idea popped into my mind. Why not simply stop the ball before it goes flying? So, at the next opportunity, I ran full speed right at that girl and took a body blow. Every time they did it again, I took another body blow. It stopped the ball and allowed my teammates to push the play forward, instead of backwards.

It was a proud moment of my childhood. But I’ve always wondered what the life lesson was from this incident. Well, besides the willingness to take a hit for the team. A few things come to mind. A basic lesson is to look for the obvious. Another is that direct action can be a good thing. Also, it’s much easier to prevent something than to react to it once it has already happened.

I’d apply these lessons to the entire society I live in. Politics most of all. I’ve come to realize how rare it is for people to see the obvious. Partisan politics shows the power of groupthink. Everyone sees the situation as inevitable and then reacts to it. This feels justified, as every0ne else is reacting as well. Strategy usually consists of trying to react more effectively. It doesn’t occur to many people that, if there is an obvious problem, maybe we should do the obvious thing to stop the problem.

Our society is full of obvious problems. The solution or prevention to these problems is often just as obvious. Yet we seem stuck in a mentality of endless reaction, always chasing the ball down the field. But what if we simply threw ourselves in front of that ball. Would it hurt? Yes. Would it stop the problem and make life easier for all involved? Yes, a thousand times over.

If we want to reform our society and make the world a better place, then we should do it. In the simplest, most direct way possible. We’ve already wasted enough time tiring ourselves out by running the wrong direction down the field, again and again and again. One would think that we as a society would finally grasp the obvious.

Let’s stop the problem first. Then we can act as a team to move forward.

15 thoughts on “Irreparable Damage, Voting Subjects, & Direct Action

  1. Over the coming months, I think that the mainstream media is going to put huge pressure on Sanders fans to fall in line.

    That cannot happen if the left is to have any bargaining power.

    • I’m sure there will be. It’s expected. I agree with you. The left’s one and only power in this situation is to refuse. If the left is impotent in even this, the ruling elite will take it as a sign of their power being without challenge. Any leverage from the left will be entirely lost. Too few understand this, though.

  2. The problem is that many Progressives gave accepted the lesser evil argument.

    What is to stop Clinton from lurching the Democratic Party to a hard right-wing state? She is already very pro war and loves Wall Street money.

    • Absolutely nothing would stop her. With Sanders’ campaign defeated, progressives demoralized and leftists disempowered, she could go as far right as she wanted. No one could stop her or hold her accountable in any way. We basically have a one party state at the moment, as both parties are neoconservative and neoliberal. There is no alternative within the system.

  3. I suspect that if Clinton wins in November, then this could get a lot worse. Clinton is probably the most visible example of a wealthy elitist liberal.

    Even though progressives distrust and dislike Clinton for her corruption, she will be seen by many as a figure from the left.

    Ironically, Bernie or Bust rallying and costing the Clinton campaign the election could be a feature, not a problem.

    • I think that the worst results are the opposite of what the mainstream media states. Clinton would mean ruin for the political left, specifically within the Democratic party. And Trump would be the same for the other side. For the general public, it’s a lose-lose scenario. Only those in power win by remaining in power.

  4. It is probably best then for the left to rally around the Green Party.

    If you think about it, there is a lot more Progressive strength than is commonly claimed. Considering Sanders only got marginal media coverage at first, then extremely negative coverage, it is amazing he did as well as he did.

    That number is only going to grow because of my generation.

    • I’m not sure what is best at this point. I like the Greens. But I’ve lost faith in the entire political system. If change is to happen, it won’t likely come through elections. We seem to be long past that point. I might be surprised, though. Maybe the younger generations will be able to reform the system or at least get it function somewhat like a democracy.

  5. I don’t see this ending well either through elections, unless people become truly despondent.

    A lot of Clinton supporters I think will get buyer’s remorse if Clinton wins. She will prove to be much more pro-war, pro-corporate, and anti-middle class than her base likes. It will make people far more cynical, and far more desperate. Thrice bitten by corporate Democrats it seems. Clinton, Obama, and another Clinton.

    I’d argue that getting the corporate Democrats to heel is a far bigger priority than anything else right now.

    • Fundamental changes always happen from the bottom up.

      That was true of the Civil Rights movement, for sure. There have been some recent books that have pointed out that public opinion and grassroots organizing across racial lines was happening for decades before the political elite took notice. Democratic politicians responded to changes already happening.

      It’s sort of like Hillary Clinton supporting gay marriage only after it’s become clear it’s a majority position and not before. And it’s like the Southern aristocrats joining the American Revolution only after decades of class war and political revolt had been slowly but surely pushing the colonies toward revolution.

      The political elite only embrace change when it has already become clear that change is inevitable. Elections don’t mean diddly squat. An election is at best the result of change, not its cause.

  6. The left cannot let fear of Trump coerce them into voting.

    It will validate the Establishment strategy and make people loyal slaves. They will be free to exploit the left as they see fit, knowing that they can use the lesser evil argument over again. It worked in 2012 against Romney, now it is working in 2016 against Trump. That has got to stop.

    Although it would not stop the plutocracy, it would send a huge message.

    • I have never and I will never vote lesser evil. Nothing good can come from it.

      We have a rigged political system. But there are ways around it. If enough people voted for independent and third party candidates in local, state and federal elections, then the two parties would be impotent to rule over us and lesser evil would hold no power. It’s that simple.

      The only way to have a functioning democracy is to act as if we have a functioning democracy. By voting for the two party system, Americans vote against democracy. A democracy isn’t possible with only two viable parties that are more similar than different. That isn’t democracy in any shape or form.

  7. The big problem right now is that half the left has accepted the lesser evil argument.

    Then there’s the well off liberals who don’t care about the poor, who have overwhelmingly gone for Clinton. They are socially left leaning, but economically very right wing. Oh, and they like to feel good about themselves.

    • Most well off liberals will get in line when they see the lower classes are so restless that the entire social order is threatened. The one and only advantage of the liberal class is that they sometimes can be forced to do the right thing. But it requires the power to threaten to take away all the benefits the liberal class gets from the status quo. Otherwise, well off liberals will always do what is most convenient, no matter how much suffering and oppression and pure evil that is involved.

      That is the nature of the liberal class. It’s what makes them more dangerous than authoritarian and reactionary right-wingers, in that the right-wing would be almost entirely impotent without the complicity of the liberal class. So, for those of us who want change, we must put immense pressure on liberals until they start squealing like pigs and then put even more pressure on them. They will complain and attack viciously those who try to force them to do the right thing. We have to be prepared to not let up the pressure even for a moment.

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