2.17.2008

ted rall wants revenge

And frankly, I can't blame him.
Lefties don't have a candidate.

Like most hardcore liberals, I had planned to vote for Edwards. I'm a registered Democrat. I live in New York, a "closed primary" state. That left Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

I studied the printed grid inside my mechanical voting machine, a steel beast from the 1950s. New York keeps threatening to replace the classic booths. I hope they keep them forever. Old-school machines have a feature I treasure: you flip a switch to make an "X" appear next to your choice. You're not committed until you pull the lever to open the curtain; you can flip the switch back and go with someone else instead.

I moved the switch to Hillary, to see how it looked. Hillary. Ted Rall votes for Hillary. I asked myself my usual test question: If she won, and I watched her being sworn in next January, how would I feel?

Bored. And slightly depressed.

I thought about the experience issue, her biggest advantage. "I am offering 35 years of experience making change," she says. Though way overstated--35 years of what? being a lawyer?--living in the White House has to have left her with some insights. Unlike Obama, Hillary wouldn't lose her way searching for the restroom. But political dynasties suck. Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton would be a sad statement. A nation of 300 million people shouldn't keep turning to the same few families for leadership.

A woman president is a couple of centuries overdue. But issues matter more than affirmative action. I couldn't overlook Clinton's votes to go to war and to waste hundreds of billions of dollars on the never-ending horror show of Iraq. Thousands of people are dead because of her.

Hillary Clinton didn't think Iraq had WMDs. No one smart did. The polls were running for the war, and so was she. She pandered. It was disgusting. But I was even more appalled by her lousy political skills. It ought to have been evident, even then, that (a) the war wouldn't go well, (b) Americans would turn against it, and (c) this would occur before she was up for reelection in 2006. It was obvious to even me at the time, and it took me ten years to get a bachelor's degree.

She was wrong. She had bad judgment. And her September 2007 vote for possible war against Iran proves she still does. I moved the lever left. The "X" disappeared from Clinton's box.

I made an "X" pop up next to Obama's name. "I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of..." I wasn't feeling it.

For what will soon have been eight long years, I reflected, left-of-center Americans have endured an illegitimate administration of morons, thieves and bullies.

. . .

"I want the Republicans to feel the way I did in 2004," an Iowa Democrat told The New York Times. So do I. I want them to watch everything they care about disassembled. Take Reagan and Bush's names off the airports, nationalize major corporations, demolish Gitmo, gay marriage--anything that pisses them off.

I want revenge. Obama preaches reconciliation. "I will create a working majority because I won't demonize my opponents," says Obama. The Illinois senator is an interesting politician and might make a good leader. But not yet. Give me eight years of Democratic rule as ruthless and extreme and uncompromising as the last eight years of Bush. Then we can have some bipartisanship.

Oh, and Obama says he wouldn't have voted for the Iraq War. I say he's lying. So do his votes for funding the war since he joined the Senate. His voting record on Iraq is the same as Hillary's.

The link at Rall's website isn't working, but you can find out how he voted here.

23 comments:

Amy said...

Surprised you posted this, given your decision not to invite discussions of the election, as this post clearly does. But since you opened the door....I agree with much of what Rall says. I cannot generate much enthusiasm for either candidate, and until a week before the MA primary, I was truly undecided and flipping back and forth. I couldn't get too excited about Hillary for just the reasons Rall describes. I am not caught up in the Obama phenomemon, though he does give moving speeches. In the end, I decided to go with Obama---perhaps for the reverse of the old proverb, "Better the enemy you know than the enemy you don't know." It just seemed there was more of a chance Obama might actually be able to inspire and accomplish change, even though we know less about him. I knew with Hillary it would just be more of the same.

Can the US really elect an African American as President? Hard to imagine.

L-girl said...

Surprised you posted this, given your decision not to invite discussions of the election, as this post clearly does. But since you opened the door...

I posted it because I agree with him: the left has no candidate.

My decision is not to vote, and not to take this election at face value, because I don't believe it is verifiable and fair.

I don't mind if anyone discusses the election at wmtc, but I don't think it will get much traction here.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

If he's going to "waste" his vote on someone who's bowed out of the election and therefore can't possibly win, why not go whole-hog and vote for Kucinich? That's the part I don't get. Even Edwards would be one of the Liberals here--i.e., hardly a big leftie.

L-girl said...

A lot of people on the left feel that Kucinich is too isolated - that he has become incapable of working with anyone beyond his own tiny circle. I can't speak for Rall, but I've heard this from a lot of lefty Americans.

You're right, though, if both Edwards and Kucinich are not viable, then why not vote for Kucinich?

redsock said...

You never need an excuse to post some Ted Rall.

I'm surprised that many progressives who should know better seem to really believe Obama will possibly be something special. ... Not saying you are one of them, Amy.

We've heard it from people who have moved up here from the states and from people in the war resisters movement. I can only assume they basing their opinions on what gets reported up here (the Globe and Mail's campaign coverage takes everything and everyone at face value) or they are unfamiliar with how pro-establishment and pro-corporation Obama is.

In November 2007, Times columnist Paul Krugman castigated Obama for using the right-wing's talking points on health care and the alleged Social Security crisis.

L-girl said...

(the Globe and Mail's campaign coverage takes everything and everyone at face value)

Likewise CBC. I have been meaning to write about this, but haven't been able to formulate my thoughts yet. Coming soon, tho. Gun-jumpers will be DQ'd.

Oh, and

You never need an excuse to post some Ted Rall.

thank you. I love his incendiary passion.

L-girl said...

how pro-establishment and pro-corporation Obama is

We'll see a woman or a person of colour in the White House before we'll see these things change. We'd see President Condi Rice before we'd see President Kucinich.

Amy said...

I had read Krugman's piece back when it was published, and it raised concerns for me then, one of the reasons I stayed on the fence for so long. I don't think either candidate's health care plan goes far enough, though both are better than doing nothing, which is what the Republicans will do. The jury is still out on the Massachusetts experiment with mandatory health insurance. Apparently a recent report indicated a great deal of non-compliance, meaning fines are supposed to be imposed on those who have no insurance. I am not saying Obama's plan is better; I just am not sure how good either plan really will be. On this issue, I am with Canada and would like to see a single payer system, but we all know that's not going to happen in the US.

As I said, Obama is not my dream candidate. If he were, I would not have been on the fence for so long. I haven't seen a dream candidate for a long, long time. But at the moment, he is my candidate of choice, given the choices I have.

In 1968, when I was still too young to vote, my parents seriously considered voting for Dick Gregory instead of either Humprhey or Nixon, as a protest vote. I, always the pragmatist, urged them not to waste their votes and to vote for Hubert, who despite being sullied by being LBJ's VP, would certainly have been a better choice than Nixon. So I do disagree with Rall's choice to vote for Edwards after he had withdrawn from the race.

L-girl said...

In 1968, when I was still too young to vote, my parents seriously considered voting for Dick Gregory instead of either Humprhey or Nixon, as a protest vote. I, always the pragmatist,

I grew up in a home where my parents always backed the most leftist candidate, then dutifully voted Democrat, because anything else was "wasting your vote". I bought into that for a long time.

All these years, we could have been building a viable leftist party whose existence would force the Democrats to win liberal voters, much the way, in Canada, the NDP is said to "keep the Liberals honest".

Instead, liberal and progressive voters are taken for granted, and the party moves ever further to the right, in an effort to win the supposed swing votes from the Republicans.

The time for such pragmatism is long past.

Amy said...

If there was a truly viable and visible alternative to the two major parties, I would agree with you. But that just has not happened. Every time we have had a third party candidate, that candidate is either to the right of the Republicans or indistinguishable from them. I don't know where the true progressives are in our political process. If they exist, they are either invisible or ineffective at becoming visible. Even the people I know who are more to the left than I am and who are politically engaged on some community level end up voting Democratic in the national and state elections. Perhaps our two party system is just too deeply engrained and our country just too conservative (in both senses) for that to change.

L-girl said...

I agree with you, except I think part of why it "just has not happened" is through progressive people voting Democrat no matter what, thus allowing the party to become what it is.

L-girl said...

Even the people I know who are more to the left than I am and who are politically engaged on some community level end up voting Democratic in the national and state elections.

Well, we don't all do that. They didn't vote for Nader even once?

redsock said...

I don't know where the true progressives are in our political process.

Almost all of them get weeded out by the establishment long before they reach anything even close to a national stage.

If they exist, they are either invisible or ineffective at becoming visible.

The media will make sure that the token progressive voice allowed to hang around the fringes of the system will never be visible, no matter what they do.

L-girl said...

Almost all of them get weeded out by the establishment long before they reach anything even close to a national stage.

That is very true. That's why the only way to really work for change in the US is through people's movements, outside of the political process. The people lead, and eventually the elected officials tag along, when it's politically safe to do so.

That's one huge difference between the US and Canada that has been very difficult for me to adjust to. Here, big changes actually do originate in government. Tommy Douglas (health care) and Pierre Trudeau (lots of stuff!) are evidence of that. Not that people's movements aren't important here, but the government is much more responsive and pro-active.

Amy said...

I agree with you that change occurs here first at the grass roots level and only after does the government and the law follow, as with Vietnam, civil rights, women's rights, and more recently with gay rights. Those movements have usually started with those most directly affected who then use the force of moral persuasion to convince others of the rightness of their position.

The political process seems almost divorced from that grass roots process. Every once in a while a leader from the grass roots campaign becomes part of the political process, e.g, Tom Hayden or Julian Bond, but it is pretty rare. It would seem that those who are motivated by principles and values cannot stomach what it takes to become an elected official.

L-girl said...

I agree with you that change occurs here first at the grass roots level and only after does the government and the law follow, as with Vietnam, civil rights, women's rights, and more recently with gay rights.

And before that, the labour movement, women's suffrage, even slavery (although that was rather more difficult to solve).

The political process seems almost divorced from that grass roots process. ... It would seem that those who are motivated by principles and values cannot stomach what it takes to become an elected official.

Yes, I agree. I remember a former co-worker of mine in NYC was naming various Democrats that he liked, and I didn't like any of them. (He liked Leiberman! I mean, come on!!) He asked me, kind of witheringly, Isn't there *anyone* you admire? I was so taken aback. I admire so many people! They just aren't people who run for office, and if they do, they don't get elected.

I managed to come up with Paul Wellstone, Maxine Waters and one or two others.

Scott M. said...

I admire Paul Wells... but I digress...

Amy said...

Admire? Yeah, that's a tough one when it comes to politicians. I am just coming up blank at the moment, though there are lots of people in real life whom I greatly admire. Even the politicians I naively had great hopes for let me down once elected. Most of the truly decent, intelligent, honest and committed people I know would never run for office.

L-girl said...

Even the politicians I naively had great hopes for let me down once elected. Most of the truly decent, intelligent, honest and committed people I know would never run for office.

Ditto and ditto.

M@ said...

I had a long-winded comment to make as an aside to this discussion... but rather than post it here, I decided to shuffle it off to my own blog. It's been almost a year since I've posted there, and it's about time I got back to that...

Incidentally, I love Ted Rall's comics.

L-girl said...

Hey, thanks M@. I'm glad wmtc inspired you to blog. Although goddess knows you write enough without blogging.

I have an interesting tangent on Ted Rall.

Some years ago, he published a cartoon that many people with disabilities found offensive and demeaning. Those people in turn bombarded Rall with emails, wrote letters to the editors of newspapers all over the US, etc. etc.

Rall said he had never seen such an enormous response to anything he had published - ever. He said he meant no offense, and was truly sorry he gave any. He also said he had never thought about the subject from this point of view before, and he felt enlightened by the reaction. His statement and apology seemed very heartfelt and mature.

BUT many people in the disability community never forgave him, and continued to bash him as if he were some very powerful person actively seeking to keep disabled people down. People still sometimes mention it during completely unrelated interviews. For some people, Rall has become some kind of demon!

I understood why people were offended by the cartoon, but the continued hatred of all things Rall seemed (and continues to seem) way out of whack to me.

I try to put myself in those shoes, imagining an otherwise good person who made one sexist comment, then immediately said what Rall said, and continued to be a good guy. I still can't see it.

M@ said...

Hey, thanks M@. I'm glad wmtc inspired you to blog. Although goddess knows you write enough without blogging.

Not nearly enough, though I thank you for the confidence (I'm working on the next writing project, honest!).

The fact is that I realise that when something moves me enough to tell a story, I really ought to put it down on my own name, rather than as a comment...

L-girl said...

The fact is that I realise that when something moves me enough to tell a story, I really ought to put it down on my own name, rather than as a comment...

Shhh! All my great commenters will hear you and decamp to their own blogs.

(But I agree.)