On the Immorality of Supporting an Amoral Dictator
The responses to my previous entry were exactly what I hoped they would be: lively. And I’m not done yet, not by a long shot. I’m going to expand upon a comment I made in the other thread.
My main argument in this discussion is not directed at those who oppose Obama. It is, rather, against those who claim to be progressives, yet still support him knowing what he is and what he does. In short, the people of whom I write (and they know who they are) are not progressive, or even liberal. They are right-wingers who, for various reasons, choose to cloak themselves in the illusion of liberalism. Maybe they figured they could operate to silence left-wing opposition to their preferred policies better as infiltrators. Maybe, being only slightly to the left of their hyper-partisan brethren, they found themselves excluded from their preferred political party, the Republicans.
Or maybe they were simply too incompetent to get a seat at the table with the big-money filth and are using the left-wing movement (such as it is) to get there. One could write volumes of speculation as to how and why right-wingers came to dominate what passes for the left-wing movement, and still not reach a definitive explanation. And really, does it matter? The point is that they do dominate us. They control the discussion, the purse strings, and the major blogs.
Now you’re probably asking at this point who the hell I think I am to decide who’s a progressive (or a liberal) and who isn’t. The problem with asking that question is that it’s the wrong one. I don’t make that decision. Instead, what people should ask themselves is, “what makes a liberal-progressive?” Is it a set of principles and beliefs? And on what are they based? Phony liberal-progressives expose their ideology by their words and their actions, and therefore distinguish themselves from those of us who do follow an established set of moral principles and beliefs.
This is a major reason why morality is so important in shaping political beliefs. Those who advocate gray areas of ideological thought are following the Nietzsche philosophy of moral relativism, which when broken down to its simplest form boils down to the notion that there is no such thing as a fixed notion of right and wrong. Remove morality from the equation and you end up with the neocons, who rationalize everything they do by the principle of might makes right. In other words, the moral relativist argues that the ends justify the means. A liberal or progressive, however, might argue that the reverse is true: the means are what justify the ends.
The fact is that Obama is thoroughly amoral, for his is the right-wing principle of power, and moral relativism is what he and his ilk use to rationalize the abuse of that power. Actively supporting Obama and the Democrats, after all they’ve done, is immoral. So is not actively opposing him in some way be it great or small. Just as it was morally wrong for Germans not to oppose Hitler and the Nazis, so too is it morally wrong for Americans not to stand up to Obama and the rest of the far right and do whatever we can legally do to remove them from power. One cannot be progressive and support someone who has, since taking office:
Extended the Patriot Act without making any reforms
Pushed for mandatory DNA testing of those arrested for crimes, regardless of whether they have been convicted
Dramatically increased government secrecy, blocking more FOIA requests in 2009 than Bush did in 2008
Cut a secret deal to kill the public option, while campaigning on its behalf
Cut a deal to exempt abortion services from health care reform
Continued to defend the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy” from legal challenges
Granted waivers for 30 companies, including McDonald’s, exempting them from health care reform
Announced a $60 billion sale of arms to the Saudi Arabian dictatorship, the largest arms deal in history
Won the right to invoke “state secrets” protecting the Bush administration from criminal prosecution
Failed to disclose visits by industry executives while crafting health care reform legislation
Authorized the assassination of US citizens abroad, an unprecedented declaration of executive power
Censored reporters covering military tribunals at Guantanamo
Fought for government immunity in prosecutions for domestic spying
Awarded $250 million in government contracts to Blackwater
Dramatically increased the use of drone bombers in Pakistan, resulting in hundreds of civilian casualties
Won the right to keep identities of prisoners at Bagram “black site” a secret
Cracked down on government whistleblowers more than any President in history
Used cluster bombs in Yemen, resulting in the deaths of 14 militants, and 35 women and children
Continued Bush policy of blocking use of the Endangered Species Act to prevent climate change
Sent 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan
Gave permits to BP and other oil companies, exempting them from environmental protection laws
Appointed Lawrence Summers as his top economic adviser
Appointed Timothy Geithner to run the Treasury
Passed a massive bailout of Wall Street, at the taxpayers’ expense
Appointed Monsanto executive Michael Taylor to the FDA
Appointed former Monsanto lobbyist Islam Siddiqui as America’s Chief Agriculture Negotiator
Sided with utility companies in lawsuit to stop greenhouse gas emissions
Successfully protected Bush officials from prosecution for torture
Pushed for a 5 year prison term for Charles Lynch, the operator of a medical marijuana dispensary, legal under California law
Proposed a three year freeze on domestic spending, exempting cuts from the Pentagon and Homeland Security
Argued that the widespread use of Predator drones is a justifiable form of self-defense
Revived “Prompt Global Strike” weapons system, considered too controversial by Bush Administration
Backed off on his promise to close the prison at Guantanamo
Reaffirmed his opposition to same-sex marriage
Announced over $8 billion in loan guarantees to promote nuclear power
Promised $30 billion in military aid to Israel over the next decade
Successfully prosecuted child soldier Omar Khadr using [a false confession] obtained through torture
Granted 27 waivers to oil companies drilling in the few weeks following the Deepwater Horizon disaster
Operated a “black site” at Bagram airbase, where the Red Cross has reported detainee abuse
Won the right to deny habeas corpus to detainees
Once wrote: “I trust that you will continue to let me and other Democrats know when you believe we are screwing up. And I, in turn, will always try and show you the respect and candor one owes his friends and allies.” (We all know his words proved hollow as he relentlessly attacked his own party’s base in last year’s midterm elections, both directly and through subordinates.)
Eased restrictions on the use of child soldiers in Africa
Blocked UN human rights investigations at Guantanamo
Launched FBI raids on antiwar activists in Chicago and Minneapolis
Used a signing statement to ignore labor and environmental standards for the IMF and World Bank
Supports the coup government in Honduras
Reversed his position on drug reimportation to appease the pharmaceutical industry
Dropped charges against the CIA for destroying videotapes documenting torture of detainees
Violated his own ban on lobbyists working for the administration
Appointed Rahm Emanuel as his Chief of Staff
Deported record numbers of undocumented immigrants*
Continued renditions of alleged terrorists to countries where they could be tortured
Opposed marriage equality by appealing challenges to DOMA, the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act”
Blocked the release of photos documenting the torture and abuse of detainees by the US military
Continued the practice of indefinite detentions for alleged terrorists
Refused to sign a treaty banning the use of landmines
And now usurped the war-making powers of Congress by attacking Libya.
The list goes on for miles, but I trust you get the point. Morality means taking a principled stand and fighting for those principles without compromising them. Ask yourself why people know what the GOP stands for and why they don’t know what Democrats stand for. It’s because, even though those principles are evil, even though they are contradictory, hypocritical, and dishonestly presented, Republicans plainly state what they are — and they have absolutely no qualms about doing whatever it takes, law be damned, to ensure that their principles are turned into political reality. If the left is going to have any hope of winning the ideological war waged upon us by the far right, we have to adopt a moral stand. We have to determine what we believe in, what we’re willing to do to fight for those beliefs, and decide what price we’re willing to pay for defending them — how far are we willing to go to ensure that our agenda is implemented?
Again, this is a harsh truth and it offends some people. Tough. The crimes being committed on a daily basis by a lawless executive do not get to be excused or rationalized away simply because it makes some people uncomfortable to challenge him. Nor are we absolved of opposing that executive by wrapping ourselves in a cloak of moral relativism. Things that were wrong when Bush and Cheney did them are just as wrong now that it’s Obama doing them. There is no middle ground on this issue, no gray area, no in-between, no level of complexity so great that it renders making a moral judgment impossible.
So the left in America is faced with a decision: Do we continue to support Obama and the Democrats, knowing what they are, thereby repeating the same failure of the German people to rise up against the nazis, or do we go all out to defeat both the Democrats and the Republicans by organizing the Left-Wing movement into a powerful force for good and winning back our country? To choose the first option is to fail a crucial moral test of ourselves as a movement.
UPDATED from Yesterday.