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The Indefinite Detention of the Progressive Voter

by SAM HUSSEINI

Earlier this year President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law. It allows for the indefinite detention without trial for any U.S. citizen deemed to be a terrorist or an accessory to terrorism.

Some might have thought that there would be wide-spread revolt among people who voted for Obama against legalized indefinite detention. And there was some protest, mostly led by Chris Hedges (who did not vote for Obama), with some legal victories against the law.

But the political success seems to have come from the law itself — in favor of Obama. Instead of provoking a revolt, the result seems to be this:

Obama is in effect telling his supporters: “You better support me more, because I just signed this law saying the president of the U.S. can detain anyone he wants. Now, do you want me to have this power, or do you want Mitt Romney to have this power?”

And so, perversely, Obama by signing a law most of his supporters almost certainly didn’t want, has actually ensured a greater grip on them. He has in effect indefinitely detained them.

Solving a problem in a positive way strengthens the citizenry. Avoiding doing so fosters a continual servitude upon the benevolence of corrupt power.

Similar effects are produced by targeting specific “constituencies”. Consider:

By allegedly deferring final decision on the XL pipeline, environmentalists concerned with climate disruption are further compelled to back Obama — with no assurance on the issues they presumably care about. But Obama benefits in a sense since this threat of the pipeline is real — people who care about this issue feel desperate, needing to stop Romney and minimize long term activism that could propel the emergence of the Green Party or another challenge to the mainstream.

Similarly, rather than resolving the standoff with Iran, keeping “all options on the table” — the Obama administration maintains the threat of war at a simmer while assured that “Romney is worse.”

Because “Obamacare” did not create a new structure, as Medicare and Social Security did, it is largely reversible, so, limited as it was, whatever benefits come from it are largely dependent on Obama winning the election.

This extends to dealings with foreign officials as well. The Financial Times recently reported: “Barack Obama has pleaded with Russia’s president for ‘space’ to deal with the issue of missile defense, saying he would have greater ‘flexibility’ after the 2012 U.S. election.”

After Obama stated that he personally favors gay marriage, gay pundit Dan Savage wrote: “Gay people better get out there and support the president. If he loses in November, we’ll be blamed.” What a cowering stance. This is a world were “constituencies” view themselves as such, not as citizens — and also, where they are made to work for the politician, not the other way around. Politicians thus are not “public servants” as they frequently depict themselves, but as lords that serfs are made to defend lest another “lord” who is worse prevail.

Similar patterns exist on a host of issues from military spending, to immigration, and a related dynamic happens with the Republican Party.

The entire structure of political support, of lesser evilism, of operating continuously out of fear, not only stifles dreaming, but the fixation on survival comes at the cost of actually living.

Sam Husseini is founder of VotePact.org — which urges principled progressives and conscientious conservatives to vote for the emerging parties they most agree with rather than cancelling out each other votes for the establishment parties they are each imprisoned by. Many of his writings are at: husseini.posterous.com

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Sam Husseini is founder of the website VotePact.org

CounterPunch Magazine

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