As you may have heard—or felt—there is much grumbling about President Obama and some of his policies on the left, from civil liberties concerns to opposition to drone strikes which kill civilians, and more. Most progressives probably still intend to vote for the president in November, although “intend” may be the key word: Will they actually get to the polls or lack the motivation to make the trip?
Others may step into the voting booth and ticket the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein, or even the libertarian, Gary Johnson, or others on the ballot in their states.
But now a group of progressives has proposed a clear guideline for wavering progs: Swallow your complaints and vote for Obama—if you live in one of the “battleground” states where the race is very close. If you live in one of the many no-contest states (from New York to Texas), then cast some sort of protest vote for one of the small-party liberal candidates.
This, of course, is only viable thanks to our ridiculous and undemocratic Electoral College system. It is not at all unlikely that Obama will lose the popular vote but still win re-election.
A national group called Roots Action has come up with the explicit call aimed at progressives, who may be very critical of Obama, on what they should do on Election Day this year. Noam Chomsky, among others, backs this move. Progressives such as Jim Hightower, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West and Glenn Greenwald have backed RootsAction in the past.
My pal Dan Ellsberg writes about the new vote plan here. He feels “rage” toward Obama but says Romney must be stopped. However, they are not repeating the rather widespread effort in 2000, when groups arranged “trades”—a voter in a swing state would promise to vote for Gore if a voter in safe state (for Gore) vowed to voted for Nader.
Here’s an excerpt from the Ellsberg call, after he details his anger at Obama over various actions or inactions:
But rage is not generally conducive to clear thinking. And it often gets worked out against innocent victims, as would be the case here domestically, if refusals to vote for him resulted in Romney’s taking key battleground states that decide the outcome of this election.
To punish Obama in this particular way, on Election Day—by depriving him of votes in swing states and hence of office in favor of Romney and Ryan—would punish most of all the poor and marginal in society, and workers and middle class as well: not only in the U.S. but worldwide in terms of the economy (I believe the Republicans could still convert this recession to a Great Depression), the environment and climate change. It could well lead to war with Iran (which Obama has been creditably resisting, against pressure from within his own party). And it would spell, via Supreme Court appointments, the end of Roe v. Wade and of the occasional five to four decisions in favor of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
The reelection of Barack Obama, in itself, is not going to bring serious progressive change, end militarism and empire, or restore the Constitution and the rule of law. That’s for us and the rest of the people to bring about after this election and in the rest of our lives—through organizing, building movements and agitating.