Leftists both within and without the Democratic Party have been for years operating under the delusion that, in order to oppose Republican policies, they must work to help the cause of any candidate that has a “D” after his/her name, regardless of how personally distasteful the candidate is or how unappealing the rightward moving Democratic platform is. This “lesser of two evils” approach is dangerous, foolish, and damaging to leftist causes as it keeps many normally progressive people locked into a party that’s tenants and leadership have long ago stopped representing progressive ideals and instead have furthered the interests of Republicans and large corporations.
At first glance, “lesser of two evils” voting doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. We support the candidate who is the “least worst” until such a time that we can run a real candidate who truly represents us. However, no one seems to be able to say who that candidate is and when we will ever see him or her. In fact, no one has ever even attempted to explain why a party that already is ensured the progressive vote under this “Republicans are worse” mentality will every seek to change, especially since a more centrist approach has given Democratic candidates a hell of a lot more financial support from various corporate interests.
But fortunately, in this election, we may be able to break free of this illusion, not only because it is logically unsound but because, this time, there truly is no lesser evil to speak of. Rank-and-file Democrats will surely be appalled at such a statement.
“Obama/Clinton at all similar to John McCain? 100-year war McCain? Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran McCain? Surely, no comparison can be made!”
Unfortunately, a comparison can be easily made. Stripped of rhetoric and pomp and laid bare, the political positions of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John McCain on a number of issues are largely indistinguishable.
On Iran, all three candidates have been firm in their support for the intimidation, bullying, and possible annihilation of this Middle Eastern country, with Clinton stating that she would be more than willing to “obliterate” Iran by raining nuclear destruction down upon it and its 65.9 million people. Clinton’s language is barbarically savage and callous in its tone and genocidal in its intent. This is patently obvious to any observer and you would expect her opponent Obama to issue a harsh condemnation of recklessly calling for nuclear annihilation; instead, Obama meekly stated that it was “bluster” and “not the language we need right now.” Not really that surprising, considering that all three candidates have insisted that “no option can be taken off the table” regarding Iran, the same warrior rhetoric used by George Bush.
All candidates have also supported the demonization of Iran by urging the State Department to consider the Iranian Revolutionary Guards a “terrorist organization.” The Kyl-Lieberman amendment, which McCain and Clinton voted for but Obama missed, wasn’t the only bill that asked for the Guards to considered terrorists. S.970, the “Iran Counter-Proliferation Act of 2007” co-sponsored by Obama, included a suggestion that the “…Secretary of State should designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as a Foreign Terrorist Organization…” Really, the only difference between the three is that neither Clinton nor Obama have put their plans for destruction in song form.
McCain, Obama, and Clinton are also committed in their undying support for Israel by appearing at AIPAC conventions and forums and supporting all sorts of Israeli atrocities and aggression. We’ve all seen McCain and Clinton’s fanatical dedication to Israel, a dedication that includes support for the “separation barrier” and the movement of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but Obama, a relative newcomer, has shown that he can pander to Israel with the pros. Obama supported Israel’s 2006 war against Lebanon as a rational reaction and by doing so implicitly condoned what Amnesty International called the “widespread destruction of apartments, houses, electricity and water services…” which amounted to an Israeli “…policy of punishing both the Lebanese government and the civilian population…”
All the candidates have reiterated, time and time again, that Israel, the only country in the Middle East that possesses nuclear weapons, faces a perilous threat from Hamas, Hizbollah, and Iran, often repeating the lie that Iranian President Ahmadinejad threatened to “wipe Israel off the map.” Not one of the candidates has ever criticized Israeli policies in the Occupied Territories, preferring instead to praise them as necessary defenses against terrorism. We must then conclude that all the candidates support brutalization, occupation, murder, torture, arrest, arbitrary detention, home demolition, humiliation, degradation, property confiscation, and economic strangulation.
The candidates don’t do much better with regards to Iraq. Both McCain and Clinton voted for the 2003 Authorization for Use of Military Force and Obama, while initially opposing the war, stated in 2004 that he was “unsure” of how he would have voted had he been in the Senate at the time. Clinton has never apologized for her war vote and, like Obama and McCain, has refused to promised to end the occupation and completely remove all U.S. troops from Iraq, despite the fact that the occupation is opposed by an overwhelming majority of Iraqis and is the main fomenter of violence in the country. Not only that, Obama has called Bush’s intentions in starting the war “sincere” but “misguided.” Neither McCain, Clinton, nor Obama considers the war to be a grandiose atrocity that has resulted in the deaths of one million people and the displacement of millions more nor do they acknowledge their own culpability by either authorizing the war or refusing to stop funding it; no candidate suggests the possibility of war crimes trials, impeachment of the criminals, or the fact that war had nothing to do with sincerity or heroic intentions on the part of the Bush government but was instead a quasi-imperial crusade to preserve American power and hegemony in the Middle East.
On the domestic front as well, the Democrats fail to distinguish themselves from McCain in any reasonable way. Both Clinton and McCain voted for the assault on American civil liberties through the PATRIOT Act in 2001 and all three voted for the “improvement and reauthorization” in 2006. All three candidates also oppose truly universal health care, preferring instead to involved greedy insurance corporations that wield life and death over the insured by denying customers critical care and treatment in order to maximize profits and enrich stockholders and CEOs. Clinton and Obama claim to have plans for universal health care but in reality, their plans basically boil down to subsidizing enormous insurance premiums, something not substantially different from John McCain. They claim that there plans will keep premiums low, force insurance companies to take those with pre-existing conditions, and keep these companies from dropping customers. They don’t say how they’ll do these things; they just say that they will. Maybe their opposition to a single payer health system is what garnered Obama and Clinton combined more than $600,000 from the healthcare industry in 2008 alone, more than five times the amount that John McCain received.
Oh, sure, you might quibble, there are minute differences between the candidates when it comes to social issues like abortion, but these differences really pale in comparison to the disastrous confluence of their psychotic foreign policy plans. And isn’t galvanizing the electorate to vote for a particular political party based entirely on that party’s particular perspective on social issues a trait of the Republicans?
Instead of voting for Clinton because she supports abortion rights and then hoping that she doesn’t obliterate Iran or voting for Obama because he is more for gay rights than John McCain and then praying that he doesn’t invade Pakistan, how about we endorse a candidate that supports abortion rights, civil rights for gays, true universal healthcare through a single payer system, and doesn’t want to export American power and aggression abroad?
If we don’t cease this destructive “lesser of two evils” approach, we will never see a truly progressive candidate in the White House.
MATT KOSKO can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org