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Progressives: In Swing States, Vote for Obama

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It is urgently important to prevent a Republican administration under Romney/Ryan from taking office in January 2013.

The election is now just weeks away, and I want to urge those whose values are generally in line with mine -- progressives, especially activists -- to make this goal one of your priorities during this period.

An activist colleague recently said to me: "I hear you're supporting Obama."

I was startled, and took offense. "Supporting Obama? Me?!"

"I lose no opportunity publicly," I told him angrily, to identify Obama as a tool of Wall Street, a man who's decriminalized torture and is still complicit in it, a drone assassin, someone who's launched an unconstitutional war, supports kidnapping and indefinite detention without trial, and has prosecuted more whistleblowers like myself than all previous presidents put together. "Would you call that support?"

My friend said, "But on Democracy Now you urged people in swing states to vote for him! How could you say that? I don't live in a swing state, but I will not and could not vote for Obama under any circumstances."

My answer was: a Romney/Ryan administration would be no better -- no different -- on any of the serious offenses I just mentioned or anything else, and it would be much worse, even catastrophically worse, on a number of other important issues: attacking Iran, Supreme Court appointments, the economy, women's reproductive rights, health coverage, safety net, climate change, green energy, the environment.

I told him: "I don't 'support Obama.' I oppose the current Republican Party. This is not a contest between Barack Obama and a progressive candidate. The voters in a handful or a dozen close-fought swing states are going to determine whether Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are going to wield great political power for four, maybe eight years, or not. "

As Noam Chomsky said recently, "The Republican organization today is extremely dangerous, not just to this country, but to the world. It's worth expending some effort to prevent their rise to power, without sowing illusions about the Democratic alternatives."

Following that logic, he's said to an interviewer what my friend heard me say to Amy Goodman: "If I were a person in a swing state, I'd vote against Romney/Ryan, which means voting for Obama because there is no other choice."

The election is at this moment a toss-up. That means this is one of the uncommon occasions when we progressives -- a small minority of the electorate -- could actually have a significant influence on the outcome of a national election, swinging it one way or the other.

The only way for progressives and Democrats to block Romney from office, at this date, is to persuade enough people in swing states to vote for Obama: not stay home, or vote for someone else. And that has to include, in those states, progressives and disillusioned liberals who are at this moment inclined not to vote at all or to vote for a third-party candidate (because like me they've been not just disappointed but disgusted and enraged by much of what Obama has done in the last four years and will probably keep doing).

They have to be persuaded to vote, and to vote in a battleground state for Obama not anyone else, despite the terrible flaws of the less-bad candidate, the incumbent. That's not easy. As I see it, that's precisely the "effort" Noam is referring to as worth expending right now to prevent the Republicans' rise to power. And it will take progressives -- some of you reading this, I hope -- to make that effort of persuasion effectively.

It will take someone these disheartened progressives and liberals will listen to. Someone manifestly without illusions about the Democrats, someone who sees what they see when they look at the president these days: but who can also see through candidates Romney or Ryan on the split-screen, and keep their real, disastrous policies in focus.

It's true that the differences between the major parties are not nearly as large as they and their candidates claim, let alone what we would want. It's even fair to use Gore Vidal's metaphor that they form two wings ("two right wings," as some have put it) of a single party, the Property or Plutocracy Party, or as Justin Raimondo says, the War Party.

Still, the political reality is that there are two distinguishable wings, and one is reliably even worse than the other, currently much worse overall. To be in denial or to act in neglect of that reality serves only the possibly imminent, yet presently avoidable, victory of the worse.

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Daniel Ellsberg is a former US military analyst who in 1971 leaked the Pentagon Papers, which revealed how the US public had been misled about the Vietnam war

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... by Don Smith on Sunday, Oct 21, 2012 at 11:11:58 PM
You should be asking forgiveness of the families i... by Kristine Hoggatt on Wednesday, Oct 24, 2012 at 2:19:11 PM
A friend says he transcribed the following from a ... by Don Smith on Sunday, Oct 21, 2012 at 11:21:40 PM
Two possible reasons for refusing to vote for Obam... by Don Smith on Sunday, Oct 21, 2012 at 11:48:44 PM
If you read it you saw my hopes for this country. ... by Kim Cassidy on Monday, Oct 22, 2012 at 1:22:56 AM
All revolutions require sacrifices - and those typ... by Doc McCoy on Monday, Oct 22, 2012 at 4:15:00 AM
You can't just say something like "no revolution i... by Kim Cassidy on Monday, Oct 22, 2012 at 5:27:31 AM
Yes, I agree it is currently too close to call. Bu... by sbaker on Monday, Oct 22, 2012 at 2:39:43 PM
Those militias have been practicing their skills d... by Kristine Hoggatt on Wednesday, Oct 24, 2012 at 2:37:45 PM
Progressives might also be voting third party beca... by eesabi on Monday, Oct 22, 2012 at 4:12:48 PM
Or we cannot vote for a mass murderer.... by Kristine Hoggatt on Wednesday, Oct 24, 2012 at 1:22:43 PM
in this scenario makes sense.Obama is largely the ... by Doc McCoy on Monday, Oct 22, 2012 at 12:25:27 AM
I like your comment. I clearly see you understand... by Kim Cassidy on Monday, Oct 22, 2012 at 1:31:58 AM
What exactly has Obama done that hasn't been disas... by Kristine Hoggatt on Wednesday, Oct 24, 2012 at 2:17:08 PM
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You are delusional. Public Option, anyone?... by Kristine Hoggatt on Wednesday, Oct 24, 2012 at 2:38:38 PM
Tired of the bullies from Chicago. I think I'll vo... by sbaker on Monday, Oct 22, 2012 at 1:45:49 PM
is a corporate owned government. It does the biddi... by intotheabyss on Monday, Oct 22, 2012 at 6:54:53 PM
More freedom to offshore jobs and drilling?... by Kristine Hoggatt on Wednesday, Oct 24, 2012 at 2:39:39 PM
I want to add a plea to voters who do not live in ... by Randy Moor on Monday, Oct 22, 2012 at 2:07:43 PM
I intend to do exactly that.... by intotheabyss on Monday, Oct 22, 2012 at 6:56:32 PM
I'm not generally big on conspiracy theories but I... by June Genis on Monday, Oct 22, 2012 at 2:38:02 PM
I'm voting for the people who represent my values,... by David McCorquodale on Monday, Oct 22, 2012 at 3:04:58 PM
I was all set to vote for Jill Stein until I saw h... by Kristine Hoggatt on Wednesday, Oct 24, 2012 at 2:52:19 PM
If Obama loses by, say, 1%, I suppose Democrats wi... by Don Smith on Monday, Oct 22, 2012 at 6:13:27 PM
Ellsberg:  "I lose no opportunity publicly," ... by Kristine Hoggatt on Wednesday, Oct 24, 2012 at 12:59:06 PM
The easiest way for me to look at it is that if Ob... by Kim Cassidy on Thursday, Oct 25, 2012 at 4:21:40 AM