By Isaac Butler
It seems to me the main issue here is a fundamentally disconnect on questions fo why we vote for President. I simply do not believe that in our current governmental system and the rules of how the Federal Government works that voting for President is a moment for personal self-expression. I believe it's a moment when we choose between the available options on who would do the best job running the Executive Branch of the country, which includes managing an enormous bureaucracy, appointing a wide slate of other executives (and judges) and working with the Legislative Branch to craft and pass laws. There is no way that any candidate who is not a Republican or a Democrat can reasonbly be said to have the capacity to do those things, as many of them involve working with an entrenched two party system in the legistative branch.
I think there are all sorts of times when voting is to some (or even a large) extent about "voting one's conscience." Voting for specific bills, for example. Or voting in primaries. Since Freddie brings up this issue let me just say: I would've supported a primary challenge to Obama from the left. I might've even voted for whomever it was. But it is simply a category error (in my view) to apply this rubric to the vote for President, because the President is not a King and does not single-handedly have the power to enact laws or fix problems.
In this instance, it's helpful to think about many of Obama's larger failures as President. Many of them can be traced to the legislature rather than to him. Cap and Trade was passed by the House and died in the Senate. Olympia Snowe was never going to vote for a larger stimulus. Ben Nelson was never going to vote for a Public Option. Closing Guantanamo was a nonstarter. The White House proposed a much stricter financial reform bill than what they got.
Furthermore, the reason why Obama has been such a disappointment on civil liberties, international law and foreign policy is because (say it with me now) the. progressive. positions. on. these. issues. have. no. constituency. and. are. not. popular. It seems to me that, were one passionate about chanings these issues, changing that reality is where your money and time should be going. Not that you can't do both! I have friends who are!
However, this is all because of what I think a vote for President is really for. You might disagree. I'd love to know: Why do you vote for President? What is a vote for President for to you?