by Isaac Butler
Over at his joint, friend of the room Freddie DeBoer is continuing the make the case for voting against and loudly criticizing Obama. Additionally, he is addressing how narrow we on the left allow the acceptable conversation to be, to the point where we don't allow people to voice criticisms we ourselves agree with because the "time" isn't right. Freddie further points out that to many, the time is never right. While I'll be voting for Obama and do, indeed, wonder if now is really the best of times to be bringing this stuff up. I do actually think criticisms of Obama (particualrly on foreign policy) are valid and need to be expressed publicly and be part of the conversation. There is a difference between wondering if now is the best time for something and saying that one shouldn't do it.
I also think that, regardless of people's critiques from the left re: the President, that people should vote for him anyway, because the alternative so much, much worse on just about every issue. I also think that a better way (not a "more appropriate" but just better) to deal with this stuff is a primary challenge.
I also think that a better use of people's time and passion would be electing better Democrats on smaller levels than President, who has to be elected by, you know, everybody. In many ways, I think that Democrats have made a large tactical error by focusing so much passion on the Presidency and so little on local, state, and congressional elections. In other words, we need to get back to that slogan from eight years ago of Electing Better Democrats.
This is all a long throat clearing to Freddie' posed hypothetical: Would I be saying all of this if Zell Miller (or, more realistically, Joe Lieberman) was the Democratic nominee?
And I think it depends, as all of the questions re: Obama and his policies on answering the question... "Compared to what?" What are the rules of the universe we're talking about here?
Because it is worth noting that we're already going pretty heavy into a counterfactual universe just to get Joementum on the ticket. He'd have to no longer be an independent. No longer be viewed as a pariah by the rank and file of the party. And he'd actualy have to be able to win most of the primaries which he was unable to do when he ran in the past. This gets us back to the point: The primaries are how we deal with this stuff. Joe Lieberman was an unacceptable candidate. So he'd suddenly have to become an acceptable one without changing his positions on anything for this hypothetical to work.
Okay then. So who he is running against? Is he running against Mitt Romney representing the current Republican Party?
I hate to say it, but were that the case, I probably would still vote for him, even though I hate him. Because the alternative would still be worse on domestic policy even though it would likely be actually identical on foreign policy and, to paraphrase Noam Chomsky, voting for the lesser of two evils still gets you less evil. But I would also work my ass off in the primaries to try to ensure he never got to the nomination in the first place. And once he got it, I would pour my energy and money into supporting progressive congressional candidates because the legislature can do a lot to stymie a shitty President's shitty agenda.