The Battle For The Heart Of Liberalism

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.