The Battle For The Heart Of Liberalism

Author: May 23, 2012 8:33 pm

In case you haven’t noticed it, a rift has opened up between two camps on the left, and it poses a very real threat to everything we’ve been fighting for. The two camps are, what I call the “purist” liberals, who will settle for nothing less than the ideal liberal president, and the rest of us (myself included), who want the best president possible in this super-heated political atmosphere.

The purists are disappointed in Barack Obama. Seriously pissed off, is more like it. They don’t like the drone program, the continuation of the war in Afghanistan, the fact that GITMO is still open, unemployment is still high, the NATO mission in Libya, etc., etc. They’re ex-Democrats and Independents who fantasized of Barack Obama as a man who would sweep into Washington, end the wars, vanquish corruption, dismantle the Military Industrial Complex, put everything we’ve got into Climate Change legislation, bring peace to the Middle East, single-handedly create 30 million jobs and in his spare time, would discover a cure for herpes. In my opinion, they either set their sights too high, or they’re incredibly ignorant to how the world works. NO AMERICAN has ever gotten exactly the president they expected, and they never will.

The best you can hope for, is the one who comes closest to your ideals. It’s been that way since George Washington was sworn in 1789, and as long as we’re a Democracy, it always will be. I’ve been disappointed by several of this president’s policies myself, but I’ll be damned if I’ll throw the baby out with the bath water just because he didn’t turn out to be perfect. And make no mistake, many of these purists will settle for nothing less than perfection. Their interpretation of perfection. I’m happy with settling for ‘close enough,’ particularly if the alternative is a man like Mitt Romney. One of my purist friends now refers to me as a “so called liberal,” and an “Obat” because I don’t share his philosophy that there’s no difference between the Democrats and Republicans. Yes, the rift is that real.

And then there’s the other camp, who make up the bulk of the Democratic Party. They want to see President Obama re-elected, because he’s been what they expected of him, and because they find the prospect of a Romney presidency unthinkable.

I have several friends in the purist camp, and I struggle to understand the logic that motivates them. One in particular tells me that he’s decided to back Jill Stein of the Green Party. Stein’s a nice person, and she represents a great cause, but she has no chance. Others (mostly disgruntled Republicans) are putting all their chips on Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party. There are a few other Independent candidates too; Buddy Roemer, Fred Karger, etc. Still others are planning on writing in Ron Paul.

Unless you’re smoking crack, you know that the bottom line is this: The man who will be taking the oath of office next January, will either be Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. There is NO mathematical possibility for any of these other wannabes to win. NONE. So in effect, voting for any one of them, for whatever reason, is a half-vote against the candidate who most closely represents your own interests. And if you’re a liberal, that means you’re rejecting President Barack Obama to the benefit of Mitt Romney. It’s not that I’m unsympathetic to the frustrations many of my purist friends are feeling, I am. I just don’t necessarily share it, and I certainly don’t agree with their solution — which in effect, helps Mitt Romney in his quest for the White House — which is insane.

In the 2000 Bush/Gore contest, it all came down to Florida, Florida, Florida. As everyone knows, Ralph Nader refused “on principle” to drop out, and he ended up garnering 97,500 votes in a state where the difference between the Gore and Bush came down to 537 votes. Had Nader dropped out, his 97,500 votes would have been split between the other two men, with an easy 75%-80% going to Al Gore. Had he done so, the Iraq War would never have happened. John Roberts and Sam Alito would never have been seated on the Supreme Court. No Citizens United. The catastrophic tax cuts would never have happened, and possibly 9/11 itself might have been prevented (does anybody really doubt Al Gore would have dismissed the 8/6/01 memo that warned of an imminent attack, the way Bush did? He’d have at least read it, and most likely acted on it. Whether or not they could have stopped 9/11 from taking place is an open question). That entire dark decade of American history might have been averted, if only Americans knew how the system works.

In any election, you don’t vote for the guy you like the most. You vote for the guy you like the most who can actually WIN.

When exit polled, many Nader voters said they liked Al Gore, but thought he was too much like George W. Bush (?!). Others said they were fed up with the American two-party system and voted for Nader as a form of “protest.” Still others were impressed by Nader’s record as a consumer advocate, and thought he could actually win. The lesson most thinking people learned from Florida 2000, is that every vote counts. EVERY vote.

To all my “purist” liberal friends out there, now is not the time to make a statement. It’s a time to stop and ask yourself what you truly stand for. Do you want an increasingly conservative Supreme Court packed by a President Mitt Romney… a president who believes corporations are people… a president whose entire career was dedicated to slashing labor in the interest of profits… a president who will continue to placate the most anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-minority, anti-choice Congress in decades?

Or, do you want a president that maybe hasn’t been everything you’d hoped for, but DID save the entire American automobile industry along with 1.5 million related American jobs… and DID sign the Lilly Ledbetter Act into law for our wives, sisters and daughtersand DID prevent the economy from going into the porcelain fixture three years ago… and DID end the Iraq War… and DID sign the stimulus bill that started creating jobs again, and DID push through healthcare… and DID preside over the demise of Muammar Qaddafi and Osama bin Laden; two men with more American blood on their hands than any others in peacetime history.

So, I’m asking you; be a true purist. Support the guy who opposes Mitt Romney; the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Because anybody who knowingly casts his or her vote for a third party candidate whom they know can’t win, is truly no liberal. There’s no more blatant act of stubborn conservatism, than someone who would in effect, collaborate with the Republican agenda, just because President Obama didn’t deliver 100% of what you wanted. The world is more complex than that, and if you’re old enough to vote, you’re old enough to understand that.

But if you do decide to vote third party, Mitt Romney will appreciate your efforts. Just don’t you dare come bitching to me in the coming years about how much you hate Mitt Romney should he win in November. You won’t be well received.


facebook comments:


  • Wow, I just had to respond because I think this author has a naive view of the world. I am not a “purist”, I am an individual who has a specific set of beliefs that I am not willing to discard at the drop of a hat. I gave Obama the benefit of the doubt in 2008 because he was the better candidate. Now, 4 years later, he cannot hide behind the ambiguity of “community organizer”, he has a very detailed record that is available for the public. Now there is a conundrum to address: do I support Obama simply because he is the Democratic candidate, or do I support the individual that I believe is the best man for the job? For the record I believe that anyone who votes along party lines is an easily manipulated fool. As the saying goes, you made your bed, now sleep in it. It is better to vote in line with your beliefs and be able to sleep at night than to vote according to a label. Labels mean nothing, the two political parties differ in some areas but they are both pawns. When you vote entirely Democratic, you are simply supporting the special interests that bankroll the Democrats and Republicans. Democrats and Republicans are basically the left and right hands of the same organism and when you blindly support a party you become a pawn. It is far better to support an independent candidate that answers to the people rather than special interests. In your blind support of Obama you are also supporting his blue dog policies, like NDAA, attacks on journalism, attacks on whistleblowers and the secrecy that surrounds his “transparent” administration. I could go on and on about the horrible policies Obama supports but essentially I would be flogging a dead horse. Obama will lose this election, but it’s his own fault for lying and abandoning his supporters. Considering the fact that it was obvious that the Republicans planned on stonewalling Obama from the start, he would have been better off sticking to his promises, even if the Republicans prevent them from happening, the effort would have spoken volumes. As it stands, Obama engaged in policies based on social manipulation and Americans do not look positively on subtle behavior modification attempts. No where is this distinction more evident than Obama’s policies regarding medical marijuana, an issue which will cause him to lose Colorado. Obama opened the door, then stepped away and used the DEA to attack the industry he created, an attempt to modify social behavior through exposure and fear. Meanwhile his drug czar has reverted to a euphemism for “drug war” while supporting “stop and frisk” policies across the nation. This from a President who has admitted to using cocaine, a crime which would have prevented him from becoming President had he been arrested like the millions of other Americans. I’m not writing a novel here, in short President Obama has enacted policies that would make Reagan blush and Nixon turn green with envy. If you want to turn a blind eye, fine, but don’t be condescending when I vote according to my conscience.

    • BruceLindner


      A lovely tome. Let me distill this down to the basic equation that it is. Come November 6th, you’ll have a choice between one of two men: Mitt Romney or Barack Obama. That’s all I’m saying. That’s IT. There is no viable third option. If you think there is, then it’s not I who’s naïve. Now, if you truly believe Barack Obama is no different from Mitt Romney, and you don’t care which of the two prevails, then I applaud you for standing by your principles. But if not, and you’re willing to “vote according to your conscience,” knowing full well that your actions will benefit the candidate being backed by the Koch Boys and Karl Rove, then perhaps your conscience is in need of a tune-up.

      Thanks for weighing in.

  • It’s frustrating to me, when discussing politics with my friends. They fail to recognize the necessity of funding for our military, education, CIA, FBI, and Homeland Security. When congress talks cuts, they mean they are cutting these programs. When Mitt Romney said he wants to expand the military and cut taxes. They don’t understand the problem. When companies who receive corporate welfare to modernize their equipment and fail to do it, it’s not the president’s fault when jobs are lost. The companies chose to pocket that money, not update the equipment, and close the plant because it only produces 10% of the total, the equipment costs money to replace, and they turn profits by taking our tax dollars and not doing what they are supposed to do with it. Boehner and the house republicans, are fighting for more money for these corporations that are already on corporate welfare. These tactics have been in play since 2001. It has drained our economy, created an enormous debt to China, and taxes were lowered instead of paying for 2 war budgets. It is really frustrating to me that people don’t see these undeniable truths. It is frustrating when people complain about welfare when corporations are draining our government of money, not paying taxes, and feeding their welfare to their sponsored candidates. Sorry…I get testy.

  • So you assume that if Gore had been elected, “the Iraq War would never have happened. John Roberts and Sam Alito would never have been seated on the Supreme Court. No Citizens United. The catastrophic tax cuts would never have happened, and possibly 9/11 itself might have been prevented …” Seriously? Wow, talk about projecting an ideal on someone. Gore is the biggest corporate whore since high priced prostitutes were invented. I have to admit that in this case I agree with your premise, but your over-simplistic view of the Democratic party is asinine. The Republicans have indeed planted their seedlings in the Democratic party, and know that we will be Stockholm Syndromed into accepting Republican policies in the name of “Compromise.” They know they are creating utter hatred for their party, and I’m quite sure they have their “Democratic” Trojan white-Horse all ready to go to “rescue” us from them by implementing policies like “Cap and Trade” which seem “Liberal” compared with utter environmental devastation. The Republicans are so confident in their ability to control the media and the debate, that they don’t have to do anything but badger Democrats to death and the Democrats will give them everything they want. The Republicans get to be the recipients of a healthy economy, a healthy environment, etc. because THEY KNOW Democrats will do the responsible thing, and do it in a way “Acceptable” to Republicans because they are so bludgeoned by the conservative media. So the pigs get so sit back, take all the profits, blame all negatives on the Democrats, SIMPLY BECAUSE DEMOCRATS ARE THEIR HOUSE BOYS AND REPUBLICANS DON’T THEREFORE HAVE TO DO ANYTHING!! The idea that people like Gore are some kind of Liberal is a GD joke. This good-cop bad-cop game is finished. This smoke screen, this blurring of where the center is is not working. We aren’t accepting things like Neo-Feudalism and utter environmental catastrophes in the name of “Compromise.” We aren’t fooled. Yes, I hope Obama wins. But either way, after the fact, I also hope some heads are going to roll…

    • BruceLindner

      Unfinity: “the Iraq War would never have happened. John Roberts and Sam Alito would never have been seated on the Supreme Court. No Citizens United. The catastrophic tax cuts would never have happened, and possibly 9/11 itself might have been prevented …” Seriously?”

      Is this concept too complex? And et me add to that, no torture and no Abu Ghraib. Yes, these are absolutely events that would never have happened had Dubbya not stumbled into office 12 years ago — with the exception of staving off the attack on 9/11, which I characterized as “might have.” The tax cuts were rammed through via reconciliation. Roberts and Alito were both far right-wing Bush appointees, who later went on to vote yes on Citizens United. And if you honestly think Al Gore would have gone through the song & dance routine that Bush and Cheney did to pressure Congress into ignoring Afghanistan and attack Iraq instead…. then you’re no student of history.


  • All excellent points and I agree, with one exception. Due to the way we elect a president with electoral votes being winner-take-all, if you live in a state where their is absolutely no chance Romney isn’t going to win the state (pick Utah, for a sure thing), the “protest” vote seems okay. In fact, it might be preferable.

  • Thank you for a post that lays it on the line. Bismark called politics, “The art of the possible.” A geek friend gave me the term “binary” to describe our situation. Third party candidates might ease your discomfort, but they are political masturbation. You are left with nothing but a mess.
    This, like every election since 1980, is binary; either/or. Off/On.
    Like the man at the carnival says, You pays your money, you makes your pick.
    This election is for all the marbles. It’s Obama, take back the House, and rebuild. OR, Romney, Cantor, McConnell, and Roberts.

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