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What to Do If You Are Dissatisfied with Obama and Bush

Posted by libhom Saturday, November 21, 2009

In the previous posting where I encouraged liberals to think boldly and expansively, I quoted something I wrote on somebody else's blog:

I don't really think the only choices are to put up with Obama's crap or go back to the Bush era. The corporate media work daily to try to limit our imaginations and make us feel utterly helpless. We should not let them win.

Some might accurately point out that, on most matters of substantive policy, Obama has kept us in the Bush era. Given the reality that Obama is a political opponent of liberals most of the time, and the Republicans are political opponents of liberals all the time, what do we do?

Become Swing Voters Between the Democrats and the Greens
One of the reasons Democrats tend to provide lip service but little else to liberals is that they can take most of our votes for granted. Swing voters get disproportional attention. Does this mean we should vote GOP sometimes? Setting aside the moral concerns, there is a strong practical reason why no liberal should ever, ever vote Republican, no matter how frustrating the Democratic opponent might be. When you vote Gopper, the message the Democrat running against the Gopper gets is that they are too far to the left, which is precisely the opposite of the reason you don't want to vote for the Phonycrat.

Voting Green in cases where the Democrat isn't actually a Democrat is much more productive. It sends a message to that Democrat that they have gone too far to the right need to move left to regain your vote. Being a swing voter between the Democrats and the Greens also gives the Republicans a reason to move towards the center. They are better off if you vote Green. So, it is in their best interest to minimize the differences between the Democrat just as it is in the best interest of the Democrat to maximize the difference. In other words, voting Green part of the time nudges both major parties to the left.

We tend to think of voting exclusively in terms of who wins and loses that specific election. It is so easy to forget the use of the vote as a behavior modification tool.

I should also mention the long term benefit of voting Green, since voting behavior affects the distant future in addition to the immediate present. Voting Green helps build an institution that may one day be a major party challenger. Our country hasn't always had a two party system, and the second party within the more common two party system haven't always been the GOP.

Stay a Registered Democrat
From a practical perspective, the only significance of partisan registration is the ability to vote in primaries. Even if you end up voting Green in the general election, it still is useful to push the Democrats towards the left, especially in contested primaries. Being an independent just minimizes your political importance, no matter how emotionally satisfying it is, given how rotten the vast majority of Democratic and Republican politicians are. Green Party primaries are usually uncontested, and the candidates almost never win in the general, so Green registration isn't terribly productive, yet.

Note: if you are in a state with open primaries, then you might as well disregard this point since your partisan registration has absolutely no practical significance whatsoever.

Support Liberal Primary Challengers
I'm not just talking about voting. I also mean giving money and volunteering if you can. Blog in favor of them too, while you are at it. The Democratic Party desperately needs improvement at the moment, and supporting primary challengers sometimes brings in new people. It usually pushes the Phonycrat away from obsessively following the GOP party line too.

Support Independent Social Movements
This is critical. We can't rely on politicians to push our agendas. We need to get out there and push for things ourselves. Social movements played enormous roles in pushing presidents like FDR, Truman, Johnson, and Nixon to the left. We need to be the people who continually piss off all political parties. In the bizarre area of human interaction known as politics, you get a lot more with vinegar than honey.

When the Republicans Are Reprehensible, Attack Them For It
Being understandably pissed at the majority of Democratic politicians doesn't mean that you should let the Republicans off the hook for their behavior. When the Republicans support corrupt or bigoted policies, condemn them for it. When they make up nonsense to stoke racist, misogynistic, or heterosexist fears, condemn this behavior in the strongest terms. This isn't spectator sports. You are under no obligation to pick teams between the Republicans and the Democrats. Give the birthers and the religious extremists heck.

When the Democrats Are Reprehensible, Attack Them For It
Hateful, corrupt, and bigoted behavior are wrong regardless of who is involved. When Phonycrats act like the most brain dead of Goppers, don't let them get away with it.

When the Democrats Do Something Worthwhile, Praise Them For It
It can be easy to forget to do this when you are pissed off at the Democrats, and most of the time you don't have the opportunity. However, it is important. There is one catch, though. When Reid, Pelosi, Obama or any other conservative Democrat appears to be doing something good, there often is something nasty in the fine print. Be careful. Don't trust. Verify.

Fortunately, we do have Dennis Kucinich and a few other Democrats that we can hold up as models of what we actually want Democrats to do. We should publicize their views and their behavior. Liberals need to be bold enough to say to the Democratic Party that we deserve entire caucuses of Democrats as compassionate and incorruptible as Kucinich.

The Upshot
The overarching point of this all is that we liberals need to think of ourselves as bold, independent agents, not tied to any party and tied to very few politicians. No matter how hard the corporate media try to marginalize us, we need to get out there and champion our values as passionately as the right does theirs.



  1. Unknown Says:
  2. You missed out 'When the Republicans Do Something Worthwhile, Praise Them For It'

    C'mon that's comedy gold!

    PS. OOh I missed the new look just reading in RSS, cool and groovy!

  3. libhom Says:
  4. RickB: That's what I get for doing a strictly serious post. I guess I could have had a section called:
    "If Republicans Ever Do Something Worthwhile...."

    Thanks about the look.

  5. the only thing republicans ever do worthwhile is when they concede - and even that they dont do all that well

    for me - registered dem but i can say that other than obama, the past few elections has seen me vote for some of the most obscure parties......

    i am so tired of voting against someone that voting for someone

  6. GDAEman Says:
  7. On Registering Dem: One of the "action items" is to "Stay a Registered Democrat." This can be argued both ways. An alternative perspective is to "Register Green." In doing so, you "cast a vote" that will be recorded at the County Election Board for all to see, including Democratic Party operatives. As the numbers in the Green Party column grow, the Democrats will realize that they are actually to the right of a growing group of people... this will help pull the Dems back to the left. True, you give up your primary vote, so be sure to convince at least one friend who would NOT have voted in the primary to do so... now you've offset the minor benefit of remaining registered Dem and you still have your number on the County Election Board's tally of registered voters for all to see. Simple.

    Your post is linked at Challenge the Establishment Blog. Looking for like-minded bloggers to join me at that blog. Let me know if you want account access.

  8. Adam R. Says:
  9. "Being a swing voter between the Democrats and the Greens also gives the Republicans a reason to move towards the center. They are better off if you vote Green. So, it is in their best interest to minimize the differences between the Democrat just as it is in the best interest of the Democrat to maximize the difference. In other words, voting Green part of the time nudges both major parties to the left.": That's a really interesting point. That never occurred to me.

  10. libhom Says:
  11. Distributorcap: I know what you mean about being tired of having to vote against people all too well.

    GDAEman: Registering Green in states where you can has the advantage you mention, though I think voting in the primaries is still more important, especially since you can convince your friend(s) to vote either way.

    Thanks for the offer, but I'm kinda allergic to group blogs, both participating and reading. One of the things I like best about blogs is the celebration of the individual voice.

    Adam: It wouldn't have occurred to me if I hadn't started thinking of voting as a tool, rather than an expression of allegiance. The latter is what the moneyed interests and the major parties want us to do.

  12. janinsanfran Says:
  13. I like the point about thinking of voting as a tool.

    Have to admit though, sometimes on the local level, when it didn't seem to make much difference, I've used voting for amusement. Jellow Biafra for mayor anyone? Those were the days.



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