Obama

Barack Obama could not be more wrong about the war against the people of Afghanistan. No country has successfully invaded another one since the 19th century and, believe me, Afghanistan–of all places!–isn’t going to be the first.

Barack Obama is wrong about Iraq. We don’t need a negotiated settlement. Immediate withdrawal is the only prudent, sane, and rational solution to a problem that we shouldn’t have created in the first place.

Barack Obama doesn’t seem to understand how bad the economy is, or that nothing short of radical solutions–like my idea to bail out homeowners and renters–has a prayer of working. A national infrastructure program–I’d start with high-speed rail–would be nice, too.

Barack Obama has been too silent on the pressing moral issue of our time–torture. Nothing demonstrates how badly our values have been corrupted than the fact that our government has legalized torture, and that the American people never talk about it.

I am going to vote for Barack Obama tomorrow morning.

Normally, I am not one to vote for a candidate with whom I disagree on so many key issues. Because Al Gore was so close to W. on so many issues in 2000, I cast my vote for Ralph Nader. This time, however, is different for me.

Riding the New York subway, I see so many African-American commuters wearing Obama buttons. Around the Obama button table at 7th and 34th, a nervous and excited crowd, mostly black, gathers every day. They can feel it–they might get one of their own people (albeit not a descendant of slaves) into the White House. I’m voting for Obama for them–because, if I don’t, I’ll never be able to look black people in the eye again.

I read a recent poll that shows Obama polling 51 percent of white men. Frankly, it’s no big deal that black people are voting for Obama. THe fact that so many white guys are willing to reach outside their comfort zone or, better yet–have black people inside their comfort zone–sends a message to blacks. We white guys aren’t all a bunch of racist shits. Many of us, yes. But not all.

Obama’s Muslim background–yes, he did grow up in Indonesia, he did hear the call to prayer every morning, and had a Muslim father–will also send a clear message to the world that America is prepared to renounce the Muslim-bashing (and -torturing, and -murdering) policies of the past eight years. Symbolism matters. The next time I travel abroad, I won’t have to explain why “we” elected a neofascist moron as president (or allowed him to steal the presidency).

Someone drew an editorial cartoon of John McCain’s face with “Best if used before 2000” stamped across his face. McCain is well past his due date though, truth be told, he just doesn’t have the calm, measured, careful temperment of a president. He is rash and emotional and, obviously, doesn’t know shit about personnel decisions. As president, he would be a disaster. As president, he would not last long. Sarah Palin would likely succeed him in a short time. That thought alone should be enough for Republican voters to cast their vote for the Libertarian candidate, or simply stay home.

So I am voting for Barack Obama, not because he’s the best candidate, or even the best of the original field (that was John Edwards, with or without his horniness). I’m voting for him because Obama means a symbolic change, and that’s a change we need.

Don’t be surprised, however, if I’m as hard (or harder) on the Democrats than I was on Bush and the Republicans. Republicans, after all, are evil. Democrats know better, and I expect more of them. I was brutally hard on Bill Clinton, although it’s largely forgotten now (I’m working on expanded cartoon archives that will eventually go back to 1991, and you’ll see how mean I was). You wouldn’t believe how many hate emails I get talking about how I was OK with Clinton, but not Bush. As if. But I digress.

There’s a lot to dislike about Obama’s accommodationist, wimpy self. But I will toast his victory just the same.

As Shah Massood said–he was the Northern Alliance warlord who united the Afghan resistance to the Soviet invasion in the 1980s–first, we kill the Russians. Then we kill each other.

Vote for Obama. Then fight for real change.

20 Responses to “Obama”

  1. Seth Warren Says:

    Just like you, I expect more of the Democrats, which is why I will NOT vote for Obama. To do so would turn a blind eye to vote-stealing, thuggery, sexism, selling-out one’s principles and every other crime committed by the DNC during this election. I simply can not endorse the top of the ticket for my party this time.

    Four years of John McCain won’t be great, but when he crashes and burns, it may give the Democratic Party the impetus to clean up their act and emerge stronger, pushing forth some actual liberal values (note: I did not say progressive, the term has been grossly co-opted by the Obamacans, and yes I’m aware that any political party cleaning up their act is the longest of long shots).

    Four years of Obama will not be good either, and may in fact strengthen the Republican Party. Do we want another Jimmy Cater leading to another eight years of Reagan? Personally, I’ll take another George H.W. Bush in the hope that it will lead to another eight years of Bill Clinton.

    Either way, I’ll have no trouble looking African-American Obama supporters in the eye because I’ve cast my vote based on content of character, not colour of skin.

  2. tyke Says:

    there is no point in having a high speed rail link if people do not use it, a better idea would be to cover Arizona ,Nevada & Texas with solar panels & build a modern electricity grid to serve the rest of the country (except Alaska).I agree with most of your sentiments, you know what you are getting with Republicans but the Democrats?My being new to your site could the people who choose anonymous as a handle please pick a name so I can get to know them?

  3. Peter Says:

    Mr. Rall,

    This is the epitome of everything this is wrong with how most liberals are going to vote on Tuesday. They’re going to vote for Obama because he’s black, or because he will win, or because he’s not George W. Bush.

    Could you look those self-same blacks who wear Obama buttons in the eye and tell them you’re voting for a real radical, progressive black candidate in Cynthia McKinney? Or that Obama – who has hired Paul Volcker to advise him on economic matters – is going to hit the American working class hard?

    I feel very sad as someone who supports but McKinney and Ralph Nader – true radicals for change – and read you and Greg Palast, who should know better, call for Obama votes because he’s “black”. Ask yourself if you’d have called for a Clinton vote because she’s a woman, or if you would have supported Margaret Thatcher in Britain for the same reason?

    Peter

  4. Grouchy Says:

    You wouldn’t believe how many hate emails I get talking about how I was OK with Clinton, but not Bush.

    I’ve noticed a lot of that among right-wing trolls. They are only capable of binary thinking, and assume all progressives are like themselves and loyally march in lockstep behind their “great leader.”

    Like you, I couldn’t bring myself to vote for Gore. He was proposing a larger military increase than Bush was. Since the ’80s, the range of acceptable debate in this country has drifted so far right that no viable presidential candidate can even talk about progressive issues…

  5. Ted Rall Says:

    “Ask yourself if you’d have called for a Clinton vote because she’s a woman”

    The answer is yes. Girls need to know that they can grow up in a country where there is no glass ceiling, or that the one that’s there is starting to crack.

  6. Grouchy Says:

    Seth Warren:

    Vote-stealing committed by the DNC?

    Huh? What did I miss? Give us a source.

  7. Dave Says:

    I partially agree with Ted as to why I’m voting for Obama. Not because he’s black- jeezus that’s one of the worst reasons I can imagine, but because the thought of Sarah Palin’s presidency in 2010 scares the living shit out of me. I really don’t want to live in a christian theocracy, where education is scorned and anyone labeled liberal a traitor. Once again I vote for the lesser of two evils, but I’ll sleep better for it.

  8. Jana C.H. Says:

    Ted, I can’t get behind you about voting for Obama because he’s biracial, just like I could not get behind voting for Hillary because she’s a woman. Symbolism is important, but it doesn’t trump substance– not to my mind.

    I’m voting for Obama not because of symbolism but because, of the two candidates who have a viable chance of winning, he is by far the superior. Lesser-of two-evils is a perfectly reasonable basis for choosing a candidate. But our motivations don’t really matter as long as we both vote for the guy. Intentions aren’t counted– votes are. At least, we hope they are.

    Jana C.H.
    Seattle
    Saith JcH: There’s no worse cynic than a spoiled idealist.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    I’m voting for Obama for them–because, if I don’t, I’ll never be able to look black people in the eye again.

    Thank you for admitting you are voting for the black man because of white guilt. At least you admit you are condescending.

  10. Ted Rall Says:

    White people who don’t feel guilty aren’t paying attention.

  11. Peter Says:

    So that’s it Ted? Cast a vote for someone because they’re “breaking a ceiling” even though their policies may hurt those self-same people?

    I guess you would have supported Maggie Thatcher if you would have supported the war hawk neoliberal Hillary Clinton. Did you support Carl McCall in the 2002 NY gubernatorial election above the more qualified Green candidate, Stanley Aronowitz, just because he was black? For me, that was a preliminary stink test for what eventually became “Obama-mania” – white “liberal” guilt leading to voting for a black man instead of for the issues.

    I just can’t wrap my head around this – you should be calling for a vote for Cynthia McKinney if being black and progressive matters to you.

    I want to see what you say when Obama’s Volcker-inspired anti-working class policies hit home in the months after the election – that we didn’t know? Or Obama’s support for the death penalty? Or his support for American imperialims?

    Sad – you are my favorite political cartoonist but your opinions belie the radicalism of your cartooning.

    Peter

  12. Grouchy Says:

    Ted,

    I think your white guilt reasoning is a little simplistic.

    Sure, blacks, as a group, have been among the most oppressed in the U.S. But we must remember that many whites arrived in America as indentured servants and lived out their lives as de facto slaves. Their children–poor white trash–were pitted against the freed slaves and given minor advantages to keep them from joining with the freedmen and revolting.

    I came from white trash, and I don’t feel guilty because the power structure has oppressed blacks–because it has oppressed me as well. If you come from a white upper middle class background, then maybe you should feel guilty. But don’t tell me I should.

    It has always been about class, not race, and hopefully with Obama’s win, we can finally begin to put race behind us.

  13. Seth Warren Says:

    Grouchy- Cease hibernating. The DNC’s Ruling Board Committee in a “compromise” to reinstate Florida and Michigan delegates gave all “uncommitted” Michigan votes to Barack Obama, plus four of Hillary’s Michigan delegates. In other words, votes were stolen and reassigned based on how the DNC wanted the outcome, against the will of the people.

    Ted- White people who don’t feel guilty are refusing to be manipulated by the past. I never enslaved anyone and I refuse to be punished for the sins of my ancestors (assuming I had any slave-owning ancestors). Granted, racism is still a problem. However, all history in all cultures is stained with blood and sin. I will do my best to make sure today and tomorrow are better than yesterday, but I refuse to be manipulated and made to feel shameful and guilty over a history which I had no control over by virtue of the fact that I was not there to protest.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    tyke,no. If you want to get to know me I’ll send you my phone number. Vote Joe!….JOBAMA!!!!!

  15. Ken Toomer Says:

    Ted, what were your thoughts on Kuchinic (sp)? During the Democratic debates, he was the one candidate that I felt most comfortable with (all-out peace, universal health care, etc.) Of course, there’s NO WAY he would get elected, seeing how much Obama has to lean to the middle just to get votes…

  16. Anonymous Says:

    There’s a lot to dislike about Obama’s accommodationist, wimpy self. But I will toast his victory just the same.

    Agreed. But let us hope that “the times make the person,” because brother, he has certainly inherited some times.

    He’s collecting a brilliant staff around him. He is a responder, not a reactor, and he is an inspiring speaker. He comes in the door with a modicum of international goodwill that we wouldn’t find in any other candidate.

    No, he is not now the person we’ll eventually need, but neither was JFK or FDR at their inauguration. I am voting for him because I believe that he has the personal and social raw material to become the person we need.

  17. Aggie Dude Says:

    I’m a white person who does not feel guilty, Ted, and I think I pay a lot of attention. I do not feel guilty because I understand the vast limitations on most, if not all, individuals to actually accomplish anything. Accomplishments take collective action, and therefore there may indeed be collective, without individual, guilt for the way things are.

    I’m going to vote for Barack Obama too, and contrary to many on this blog I am very satisfied with him as a candidate and think he has the potential to be an outstanding President. I do this because I accept that the way I want things to be is not going to happen. I consider it a testament to maturity to acknowledge that I don’t have all the answers either.

    I do agree in part with Ted. Obama and Clinton are both competent enough to vote for simply on the merits of their minority candidacies (one black, one female). On the other hand, Sarah Palin, like Alan Keyes, is such an offense to rational thought that I wouldn’t support either of them on those grounds.

    Seth Warren: I sincerely hope you recognize the danger in a McCain presidency, and that is the prospect of Sarah Palin becoming president.

    A 2004 vote for George W. Bush and DICK Cheney was, in my mind, an unforgivable act.

    A 2008 vote for McPalin may even be more unforgivable.

  18. Anonymous Says:

    I took Ari Fleisher seriously when he said, “Be careful what you say.” Anonymous has its limits. Is anyone truly anonymous? The trouble with giving a name is that it reminds me of the old war movies where a Nazi soldier asks, “Fair are hyour papersssss? You haf no papersssss? Guard! Take dis piece of scum to headquarters, schnell!”
    All seriousness aside, name-dropping doesn’t impress me, nor does the fact that certain people claim to know more about what is going on than I do. We all get one vote, if we’re lucky, and not amazingly stupid.
    When FDR died, Harry Truman didn’t know squat! When George W. Bush and his army of thugs and televangelists and the Supremely Compromised Court GAVE him the Presidency, a citizen with an average, 7th-grade education and intelligence would have known that the USA was DOOMED! But a middle-aged disabled Veteran of our most recent, ten-year war/disaster would have known BEFORE the election that the USA was doomed if George W. Bush got into the White House.
    There is no hope without help. Don’t expect a baby-fart-in-a- hurricane of help or cooperation from the Republicans left in our Congress. They’re not only evil; they are EVIL! They couldn’t care LESS how messed up the USA gets as long as their checks keep coming in and the perks and benefits continue with self-approved and passed increases. Plus their side jobs going down on lobbyists for some extra change.
    The message was fairly clear in the early seventies when the citizens of the USA said loud and clear, “Stop this stupid war!” After that, we were punished soundly with a (Ha Ha Ha x 10 to the 25th) GASOLINE SHORTAGE. Which proved to be the best method of punishing American citizens who DARE express their protected opinions in public and DARE to go to the streets with demonstrations.
    The pitter-patter/chitter-chatter of know-it-alls and name droppers reminds me of the endless chatter of sports devotees who talk to death sports events and the private and social lives of overpaid professional athletes. They HAVE no lives other than an open line at the end of their speed dialing.
    We already saw an example of the Republican response to an alleged plan by White Supremists to do massive violence, then attempt to assassinate Senator Obama. Someone ALLEGEDLY hung Sarah Palin in effigy! Oh, MY! See? The Republicans are regular people, too. Someone hates THEM, but only ‘god’ knows WHY-YYYY anyone would hate the perfect-smile Sarah Palin (wink wink).
    So, anyone who doesn’t appreciate anonymous? Right HERE! This is as good as anything Dick Cheney excretes from his potty mouth, and remember, he gets paid and compensated very WELL for treating the Constitution like toilet paper and citizens like his gelatinous turds.
    Ya’ll come back, now. Yuh hear?

  19. Anonymous Says:

    I, too, wanted John Edwards.

    I, too, will vote for Barack Obama.

    I will not vote for Obama because he is black.

    I will not vote for Obama because he’s not Bush.

    I will not vote for Ralph Nader because he is a tool of the Republican Party used to draw away the votes of weak-minded liberals who waste their votes in a moral message unheeded by a political system that ONLY works in black and white.

    I will vote for Barack Obama because I am not rich.

    I will vote for Barack Obama because it is desperately important to keep Sarah Palin away from any position of national responsibility.

    I will vote for Barack Obama because of the two remaining candidates he has the fewest flaws. (Which really doesn’t say much.)

    I will vote for Barack Obama.

  20. Grouchy Says:

    Seth:

    Oh, Florida and Michigan. That was such a non-issue that I forgot about it.

    I don’t think there was any completely satisfactory way to settle that mess, but if you believe that “votes were stolen,” and Hillary should have won the nomination because of those delegates… All I can say is that you’re entitled to your opinion.

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