FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Loserville

Well, it’s happened, and it’s no surprise.

Barack Obama, the prospective Democratic presidential candidate, has managed to turn a 5-8 point lead over prospective Republican opponent John McCain into a 7-point deficit—a double-digit slide—in just two and a half months following a campaign that had voters really excited over his candidacy.

How did he manage this feat (which is documented in the latest latest Reuters/Zogby poll)?

Simple: he followed the tried-and-true strategy of Democratic centrist advisers who have increasingly dominated his campaign since the end of the primaries, and who have a proven track record of producing Democratic electoral disasters now for several decades.

Like John Kerry and Al Gore before him, Obama, who ran his primary campaign as a liberal, staking out an anti-war position, has morphed over recent weeks into a Republican-lite candidate, calling for a hard line against Palestinian rights, threatening to attack Iran, calling for an expansion of the disastrous war in Afghanistan, and backing away from genuine health care reform and other important progressive goals here at home.

One might think that after watching Democratic candidates lose the last two presidential elections by following exactly this kind of “strategy,” if it can be called that, Obama and his campaign managers would have decided to try something different, but it appears that the Democratic Party at the top is hopelessly in the grip of corporate interests that favor war, free-market nostrums and corporate welfare. (Okay, I know Gore really won the 2000 election, but he should have won it so convincingly—for example taking New Hampshire and his home state of Tennessee—that the election couldn’t have been stolen. And Kerry, similarly, should not have had his race determined by a close vote in economically distressed Ohio, which should have been his by a blowout.)

Obama got where he is—the first African-American major party nominee and the first black candidate with a real shot at winning the White House—by appealing to the Democratic Party’s liberal base. Now Zogby reports that Obama’s support among liberals has plunged 12 percent. That’s liberals folks!

I count myself among those on the left who have turned away from this fast-talking eel of a candidate.

It’s not a matter of turning to McCain, who is if anything more dangerous than President Bush because of his fondness for war and his evident lack of any kind of principles, not to mention his personal greed.

But how can I or any progressive vote for a presidential candidate who goes from opposing a war to saying he not only supports the idea of keeping troops in Iraq for another five years—the length of the entire WWII!—but who further says he won’t rule out attacking Iran, even if that country poses no imminent threat to the US, simply because it develops nuclear weapons—the same weapons that our putative friends, Pakistan and India, have? How can I vote for a candidate who wants to expand the military (by 65,000 troops) instead of shrinking this huge, bloodsucking parasite of an organization which is costing as much as the rest of the world spends on its armies?

How can I or any progressive vote for a presidential candidate who cannot state categorically that he will defend the Constitution by reversing all of President Bush’s abuses of power and who will not promise to prosecute the president and members of his administration for any crimes committed while in office?

If you look at Obama’s vaunted website, and check out his positions on the big issues of healthcare, education, the economy, labor, social security, etc., you can see he’s pretty good on most things (okay, his health care “reform” is a loser and will never fly. He should be calling for a nationally-run insurance system modeled on Medicare and paid for by the government). The problem is that there has been a deliberate effort to soft-pedal all of it, while backpedaling on his position on the Iraq War. It’s almost as if he and his campaign think the “smart” progressives will go to his website and be satisfied with his online positions, while the “dumb” unaffiliated voters will not go there and will just base their votes on his gauzy image TV ads.  (More importantly, if he can go from anti-war to pro-war, what’s to say he won’t backpedal in office on the rest of his positions, especially if he won’t highlight and defend them vigorously on the campaign trail?)

There has clearly been a decision made in the Obama campaign to soft-pedal liberal positions and to make Obama appear “safe” and uncontroversial.

The result has been his precipitous slide in the polls.

That’s not the worst of it, either. Obama is not just losing liberals in droves. Many liberals, after all, will in the end return and vote for grudgingly for Obama, though they probably won’t volunteer to do any of the critical campaign work registering voters, promoting his candidacy or getting people to the polls. The worst part is that by becoming just another middle-of-the-road, namby-pamby, Republican-lite clone of Kerry circa 2004 and Gore circa 2000, Obama is losing the young and also the disaffected, unaffiliated voters who were flocking to his campaign during the primaries. This group of erstwhile enthusiasts is down 12 percent, too. And it’s those people—particularly the unaffiliated voters–who are raising McCain’s numbers. The Zogby poll reports that McCain’s support among younger voters has reached 40 percent—not that much below Obama’s 52 percent.

There is probably still time to turn this electoral debacle in the making around. Obama needs to come out unambiguously for a quick end to the war in Iraq. He needs to do an about face on his call for an expansion of the war in Afghanistan. He needs to flatly rule out preemptive war as a policy for the United States of America, unless the country is in danger of imminent attack. He needs to scotch plans for expanding the military, and instead to start talking about how to reduce military spending, so that those funds can be shifted to domestic priorities like improving education and dramatically increasing research into carbon-free energy production. He needs to call for a national healthcare system that will provide quality, affordable medical care for all, and he needs to call for an aggressive campaign to combat joblessness and to reduce income disparity within the US.

Do that, and we will see an Obama presidency and a Democratic sweep of both houses of Congress.

Continue with the present losing strategy, and we will see John McCain as president, and the continuation of a weak, compromised, sell-out Democratic Congress for at least the next four years.

Now as sympathetic as I am to the politics espoused by Ralph Nader and by the Green Party, I’m well aware of the futility of Third Party campaigns. Even so, count me as one progressive who at this point has stopped supporting Obama.

DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. His latest book is “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006). His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net

 

 

Your Ad Here

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador   Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Matthew Stevenson
Going Home Again to Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
John W. Whitehead
It’s All Fake: Reality TV That Masquerades as American Politics
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
Binoy Kampmark
Shaking Establishments: The Ocasio-Cortez Effect
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Kevin MacKay
Climate Change is Proving Worse Than We Imagined, So Why Aren’t We Confronting its Root Cause?
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
Louis Yako
Celebrating the Wounds of Exile with Poetry
Ron Jacobs
Working Class Fiction—Not Just Surplus Value
Perry Hoberman
You Can’t Vote Out Fascism… You Have to Drive It From Power!
Robert Koehler
Guns and Racism, on the Rocks
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir: Implementation with Integrity and Will to Resolve
Justin Anderson
Elon Musk vs. the Media
Graham Peebles
A Time of Hope for Ethiopia
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Homophobia in the Service of Anti-Trumpism is Still Homophobic (Even When it’s the New York Times)
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
David Yearsley
The Glories of the Grammophone
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail