Why, as a Progressive, I am supporting Democrats and Obama’s re-election
I think it no exaggeration to argue that this coming presidential election may be one of, if not the most important of my lifetime. My main reason for this belief is the Supreme Court. It is hardly an original idea — that, from a Progressive point of view (the actual issues-determined view of the majority of Americans), the danger of a Supreme Court irreversibly dominated by an un-American Rightist philosophy is the greatest threat to the American Republic of our lifetime. Yet it is quite clearly true. Our present court has four justices, the Gang of Four, whose identities are known to every thinking American, who do not believe in the essential constitutional principles of our country, and who fail completely to respect principles of law, instead deciding critical issues on the basis of right-wing ideology alone. If you doubt this, please peruse the so-called reasoning of the Citizens United case (I have done so). It’s unmistakable.
From this corporate personhood, plutocracy is good, money is speech judicial fiat, to the potential for grave damage on civil liberties (such as the recent defense authorization bill that purports to effectively eviscerate the 1st, 4th, 5th and 6th Amendments), to reproductive rights, to the right to be free from religion and to choose your own partners with equal treatment under law, to the right to fair elections… the list is long and frightening. If a Romney or other Rightist becomes president, the court will almost certainly be cemented in Rightist ideology for a long time to come.
I have been quite critical of President Obama on a number of issues of importance to me, as I have discussed on my blog at length. I regard Obama as no better than a corporatist-Centrist Democrat, whose policy intentions are well aligned with the moneyed interests that really run this country. But Democrats are different from Republicans. They at least believe in checks and balances, and in a system that is not entirely given over to exclusive interests of the rich and powerful. President Obama is no Progressive, but on a whole host of issues, his policy intent is clearly superior to that of any conceivable Republican opponent.
And for those reasons, I intend to support his re-election, both financially and with time and energy. Our political system is deeply dysfunctional, and one of its dysfunctions is its bipolarity; but this is simply a fact of life. We should work, long term, to change that, but we must also make the right choices for the future now, in the short term. We must, as thinking people, act in ways that we sincerely believe will result in the best outcome for the future. For me, the choice is clear, that we have to put our support on the side closer to our world view, while continuing to put what pressure we can on those whom we support to change their views to conform more closely to ours, while constructing in our advocacy the means to a better system, and working for that for the longer term.
But the most salient point in this short-term calculus, for me, is the danger of generation-long domination of the Supreme Court by truly dangerous Rightist ideologues. We’re almost there already; if we don’t reverse the trend, our country will be benighted by Rightist jurisprudence for so long that real social progress will be hobbled no matter what changes in the Zeitgeist may bring in terms of electoral politics in the coming years. And this, alone, for me, is sufficient reason to eschew any thought of Progressive Third Party candidates, or of high-mindedly foregoing voting altogether (which I’ve seen advocated), and getting serious about making sure that the most Progressive Democrats we can find run to defeat Republicans, that Democrats in general are elected and re-elected to the House and Senate, and, above all, that President Obama is re-elected this year.