Now that America is into the final month for this episode of the never-ending election cycle, the time is more than appropriate for speculating about candidate’s capability and the policies of my nation in the coming years. All that’s gone on for the past two years is irrelevant, which is why I have limited my exposure to the whole affair for sanity's sake. With just over four weeks to the general election, the time is right to seriously deliberate. Fewer candidates for president demand our attention and support. It all comes down to a decision about country and future based on the promises and personalities of four individuals and the establishments that support them. That makes slim pickings. Disappointingly so. Still the choices are far from unclear to me.
That’s why I in no way want to see a President John McCain, a Cold Warrior who is still trying to win the Vietnam war
. Even worse is a Vice-President Sarah Palin—George Bush in lipstick—who knows nothing but can sell ideas as convincingly as Ronald Reagan. Note that I wrote ”Vice-President Palin”. With some coaching by Cheney, Sarah Barracuda could do quite well in the administration of an aging president with no executive experience. John McCain and Sarah Palin are simply more of the same disaster America and the world has suffered these past eight years: reckless international aggression and intervention, militarized domestic security (take a look at local police
when fully armed and massed
), continuing loss of economic opportunity, polarized wealth and a determined hostility to science and objective thought. Nothing the national Republican ticket offers will make a better America.
Barack Obama and Joe Biden I can live with, even knowing that they offer only a marginally different version of the current or future Republican regimes. Probably a bit more than marginal but certainly no fundamental change. I know I am asking a lot from America’s degraded democracy but that democracy is all I have to count on to govern my country and the planet that supports life. Case in point: during the VP debate neither candidate mentioned “de-legitimizing” nuclear weapons as a policy to prevent nuclear proliferation. As long as Great Powers build and maintain nuclear weapons, any other nation seeking prestige as an important power and/or defense against other powers will follow suit. Of course, the first steps toward de-legitimizing would be for nations with nuclear arsenals to declare no first use and a willingness to fully disarm those arsenals. With its vast and superior military forces (if we don’t waste them in Iraq and Afghanistan), the United States risks little by renouncing nuclear weapons. I respect any national leader, American or otherwise, willing to speak out in favor of radically different approaches to such difficult and dangerous problems.
Instead of real change, the Democratic ticket promises continued war, but a much better managed war. This is the same promise John Kerry made four years ago. Like so many Democrats since George McGovern, Obama and Biden are full members of the National Security State that keeps America ever on hair-trigger alert and fighting. They will pursue “robust policies” of “forward engagement” and “projected power” to secure America’s interests. About the best I can say of Obama and Biden is that I expect they will be less reckless than the current incumbent. Listening to Biden the other night I heard a candidate I think capable of representing America favorably in the coming years. His explanation of his vice-presidential role sounded to me like a mix of Lyndon Johnson (get things done in the Senate) and Dick Cheney (without secrecy and arrogance). It could work.
So I’m voting for the possibilities this year and that means Obama-Biden. Real change will require a very different political culture than America has experienced in the past decade and that will not come easy or fast. Not just presidential politics; Congress, too, is well enmeshed with America’s military-industrial economy and will not easily recognize alternate economic models that will promote economic justice and sustained opportunity for all Americans. Perhaps the greatest possibility in 2008 is the economic wake up call—the sudden fissures in the security of capitalism as we’ve known it. America has endured 30 years of anti-government, free-market deregulation mania that has left far too many Americans at severe financial disadvantage while simultaneously enriching a small elite (including John McCain’s addiction-peddling
If I think optimistically, I see the economic collapse as an October Surprise that, for once, helps the Democratic ticket. Unlike some other October Surprises, this one is not staged--neither party seems particularly competent in dealing with the current meltdown; I can’t imagine anyone actually lighting the fuse on this one. Politicians are scared shitless about public anger even as they know they need to do something but don’t really know what will work. I’ve read articles
and heard discussions. It's clear to me that long-term reform is not among the solutions being offered. Instead we have The Bailout. That’s our plan, our backstop, something to stop the bleeding until we can come up with a better (or at least another) “fix”. Maybe the next few weeks will bring some serious debate about our economy and society.
Mostly McCain-Palin will go completely negative. They got nuthin' else.