Has Obama Earned Our Votes?

I got into a discussion with some Obama supporters today. What troubles me the most about Obama supporters is that when they get together to talk about their candidate, they never talk about his position on the issues. They don’t talk about his voting record or his stated policies.

What do they talk about? How he looks when he kisses babies. How his speeches make them cry. What it means for this country that a black man is capable of getting this far (never mind the millions of black men unjustly imprisoned).

Or else they talk about McCain. They’ll laugh about how old McCain is. They talk about what an airhead Palin is. Or how racist McCain is. Did we mention McCain is like, really old? Sometimes, they will actually to talk about McCain’s policies, and how militaristic they are—-(but they never mention the basic similarities between McCain and Obama’s foreign policy).

Pundits will often applaud our generation, noting that the overwhelming support for Obama in our demographic proves we aren’t cowed by the institutionalized racism of our parents’ generation. What they fail to mention is how easily swayed we are by a slick advertising campaign. At least some of our parents managed to get out and protest for civil rights and an end to the Vietnam war. Our generation is too busy updating our facebook profiles while the world burns.

Part of the problem is that we aren’t defensive voters. We need to look at candidates and ask ourselves: What have they done to deserve my vote? Not how nice their advertising campaign is. Not even how terrible their opponent is. We need to ask ourselves what they have done, irrespective of everything else, to earn our support. And then we need to take a good, hard look at their record and at their actual policies and make our decision.

We need to start making demands of our candidates, concrete demands on key policy issues. And if those demands aren’t met, time and time again, then we need to seriously consider voting for somebody who will meet them.

I’ve laid out the case against Obama in an earlier entry. Now, Matt Gonzalez, Ralph Nader’s running mate, lays it out again here, in his article titled “What do they have to do to lose your vote?” Gonzalez is delievers some of the most timely and articulate political criticism you are likely to find anywhere, and it’s well worth reading. For those of you are in a rush, I’m going to go over briefly some of the points Gonzalez has raised. I’m not going to go into too much detail (if you want links and sources, check out my entry and the article) But if nothing else, remember that Obama:

* Favors a Militant Foreign Policy He doesn’t support “withdrawl”. He supports “redeployment”, that is, moving troops from Iraq to Afghanistan—not bringing them home and reducing overall troop levels. And even then, his military adviser suggests that at least 50,000 US troops (and unknown number of private contractors) would have to remain in Iraq. Obama also supports the Bush Doctrine and has talked enthusiastically about invading Pakistan. He also wants to increase the military budget, which is already greater than the rest of the world’s military spending combined.

* Supports Conservative Justices A frequent argument I hear in favor of Obama is that he will make better judicial nominations that McCain. As usual, the Obama supporters ignore the facts. Obama has supported numerous conservative appointments, and has refused to filibuster even when the rest of his party has. Read Gonzalez’s article for details on specific nominees (there are too many to list here!).

* Supports the Death Penalty

* Supports NAFTA Even though he was initially critical of it, he has come full circle and is now an ardent supporter of it and other “free trade” agreements.

* Supports a Dirty Energy Policy complete with offshore drilling, “clean” coal (now there’s an oxymoron) and nuclear power. No mention of solar energy, geothermal, or wind. He’s also been a staunch supporter of the Bush Administration’s extremely poor environmental record.

* Supports Government Spying since he voted for the Patriot Act and more recently for telecommunications immunity in the FISA ammendement.

* Supports Expensive, Inefficient, For-Profit Healthcare not the universal, single-payer healthcare a majority of Americans and a majority of American physicians want.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Also note that there is nothing in Obama’s platform about establishing a living wage, reforming our prison system, or challenging corporate domination of our politics. In fact, Obama has collected more corporate money than McCain, including hefty donations from Goldman Sachs, whom he voted to bail out.

So if you consider yourself a liberal or a progressive, ask yourself: has the Democratic Party in general, and Obama in particular, earned my vote? Am I voting for them because I support their positions?

Read the Federalist Papers. Our founding fathers were quite clear: this whole “democratic republic” thing only works when the populace is informed and virtuous. And that means holding our politicans to higher standards. If we, the people, are to wield the political power in this country, then we have to make our deamands and not reward the candidates who won’t fulfill them.


~ by Kimchi on October 30, 2008.

3 Responses to “Has Obama Earned Our Votes?”

  1. Where on earth are you getting this information?

    As just one example from your list above, you assert that Obama’s plan has “no mention of solar energy, geothermal, or wind. ” You may wish to actually read the plan.


    You’ll find it interesting that it mentions solar, geothermal AND wind.

  2. Another thing you may want to try for context is looking at what conservatives say about Obama rather than what the Nader campaign says.

    On judges, for example:


  3. Hi there Spreading the Wealth. Thanks for dropping by!

    I looked through those eight pages and I see only one mention of solar, wind, and geothermal. These technologies are mentioned only once, and are tucked away toward the very end, as part of a piddling initiative to make a mere 10% of US energy come from these sources by 2012. For someone who bills himself as providing “clean energy” and “green initiatives”, this is pathetic. They are mentioned only once in eight pages, seemingly as an afterthought. They may as well not be mentioned at all.

    I know the words “green” and “alternatives” and “clean” are splattered all over his energy policy, but you have to look beneath the surface: what are they actually referring to? The overwhelming majority of that document is devoted to the extremely dirty energies I and Matt Gonzalez mentioned. Energies like “clean coal”, which is a complete oxymoron and nuclear power which as I’m sure you know is one of the most dangerous and toxic energy sources available. Obama also mentions “biofuels”, by which he means “ethanol”. There’s always quite a bit in there about “getting more out of existing oil reserves”—which in light of Obama’s recent comments means offshore drilling, an extremely short-sighted approach to energy policy. The amount of oil we will get from offshore drilling is negligible, and it will come at the price of extreme amount of pollution and devastation to our our country’s environment. I also see frequent references to “cap and trade”, an inefficient system that doesn’t actually cut down on pollution but simply shifts it from one company to another.

    Incidentally, I’m not getting this from the Nader campaign. With the exception of Gonzalez’s article, everything I have on Obama comes from an independent source. Allow me to re-post some links from my earlier piece:

    Obama’s vote for the Bush/Cheney sponsored energy bill of 2005, a terrible piece of legislation condemned by environmentalists across the country.

    It’s been demonstrated that Obama is a big proponent of ethanol, and has received a lot of support from the ethanol industry. In case you didn’t know, ethanol is an extremely inefficient fuel. It takes 50% more energy to produce ethanol than it delivers and its emissions are just as bad as those produced by gasoline. Plus, you get it by burning food, which is really a tremendous way of saying “fuck you” to the third world when so many people are starving. Ethanol is an alternative fuel, but it is not a clean alternative and should not be considered a “green” technology.

    The energy policy sheet you gave me implicitly states that Obama wants to open up offshore drilling, but if you didn’t get that from the eight pages of overblown rhetoric here it is very plainly: Obama Signals Support for Offshore Drilling. He’s also called for opening the petroleum reserves to lower gas prices. This will be nothing more than a temporary fix, and afterwords we will no longer have those reserves for emergencies.

    Obama is a staunch advocate for nuclear power, and that’s no surprise given that one of his biggest contributors is Exelon, a nuclear power company. Obama was a big supporter of nuclear power as a state Senator in Illinois, but his record on nuclear safety is extremely troubling. But when you’re dealing with nuclear power, there is really nothing “safe” about it, given the amounts of radioactive waste produced as well as the imminent threat of meltdown.

    I suggest you look past the rhetoric of the Obama campaign and actually examine his energy policies for what they are. It’s not clear to me that YOU, Spreading the Wealth, have actually bothered to read your own candidates plan. I also don’t think you’ve taken a look at his voting record, the source of his funding or his stated positions on the issues. You will find they are anything but progressive.

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