Wednesday, October 31, 2012

End Game

“There is no excuse for inaction.” - President Obama

Back in 1972, liberal Democratic candidate, George McGovern, suffered a landslide defeat (61 to 37 percent) against Republican incumbent Richard Nixon. McGovern was the anti-war, grass-roots, abortion rights, “food for peace” candidate; conversely, Nixon, the conservative, southern strategy, establishment option. The loss for McGovern -and, arguably, American liberalism itself- was devastating, especially for McGovern. Of course, Nixon’s victory was soon overshadowed by the greatest of all political mistakes - getting caught.

After Woodward and Bernstein published proof of Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate scandal, Nixon would become the only U.S. president to resign from office. Whereas Nixon was forced to leave the White House in shame, McGovern would be re-elected Senator of North Dakota. In the Senate, McGovern continued building on his reputation as the noble fighter for food justice, agricultural issues, nutrition, and women’s health. Consequently, one cannot help but wonder what America might have looked like if McGovern had won the White House in ‘72?

George McGovern recently died at the age of 90.

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In less than a week, Americans will, as they did forty years ago, vote for president. This year, one could suggest that the tables have turned on conservatism and that liberalism now holds the upper-hand. However this attitude is dangerous for a couple reasons. Firstly, the same grim forces of ignorance and fear remain looming at our door and should never be taken lightly; moreover, the “liberalism” and “conservatism” that distinguished Nixon from McGovern (forty years ago) has become difficult to differentiate in our increasingly plutocratic political climate.

Nevertheless, there remains some very clear and significant distinctions between the choice voters can make this election.  

Those who vote for Mitt Romney on November 6th support a Republican party that seeks to dismantle social welfare, public education, medicare, social security, a woman’s right to choose, and the Affordable Care Act. After Romney and Ryan are done tearing-down what has been built-up, they will de-regulate, and “turnover” the role of the Federal Government so that it's functions are farmed-out and privatized to the highest bidders. Such a revolutionary and extreme agenda would thankfully face inevitable political resistance; after all, no administration can just come into power on “the first day of office” and make such sweeping change without being vetted by our established (often frustrating) system of checks and balances. 

Nevertheless, Romney and Ryan will seek to do everything they can to erase regulations so that corporate power has full and unabated reign to pollute and loot away our rapidly depleting natural and human resources. Romney is concerned with the corporate sector, he is a “businessman” that seeks to make a profit for those who are already profitable. He has admitted he is “not concerned with those people...the 47%.” Thus, the 47% should be unconcerned with him. Unfortunately, those who vote Romney cannot hear reason from the walls of their gated communities and Fox Noise bubbles. Such voters foolishly believe that their hard-earned money (even when they have none...) is going to be taxed and then “handed-out” to the moochers.

A vote for Romney supports a blundering and bullying foreign policy agenda that is still geopolitically placed in a Cold War mindset. As President Obama jokingly zinged Romney in the third debate, “The nineteen eighties called and said it wants it’s foreign policy plan back.” Yes, the same neoconservative advisors that brought us the massive troop deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan would continue to be deployed. Romney’s strategy is to have no strategy except to be, of course, exceptional. America will remain great if only the voter “believes in America.” This strategy will only fail. The military of the twentieth-century cannot be the military of the twenty-first, a more effective, precise, and strategic machine is required. Such mentality is unrealistic. 

Voters who vote for the Romney ticket are unconcerned with truth or facts, they prefer the illusions and lies of xenophobic nationalism, racism, and bigotry. They attribute much of the real suffering and problems we face as a country to the same misguided illusions that continue to be America’s undoing. Those who endorse Romney can only make the argument that “America is great and always will be.” However, America has only not been great these past few years Obama has been in the White House. Such voters have no historical perspective and will never listen to reason.

Admittedly there is a lot of fodder for the ignorant to consume. The political conversation continues to be filled with rumor, misinformation, and straight-up fantasy. But reality will win.

For me, the central argument in this election is the role of government. Romney sees government as the problem (even more so than Ronald Reagan, since he would never implement the same tax plan of his party’s patron saint). Obama realizes that the federal government is necessary and can be improved upon. Romney wants no government regulations on corporations. He would dismantle FEMA so that disaster relief would come from the states (or, even “better”, corporations), healthcare would also be privatized, environmental protection would be non-existent, etc. And (depending on which Romney you ask, or take a quote from his consistently inconsistent record...) would use government to impose the most draconian of laws dealing with marriage equality and a woman’s right to choose. 

The choice is clear. Let us continue to move forward and vote Obama on November 6th.