(originally posted on a discussion board; slightly revised for this blog)
...My, aren't we a couple of high-minded libertarian freethinkers, too fine-grained for the sordid political realities of this wicked world! "A" "tried that a couple of years back" and has "absolutely nothing to show for it so far" (o, the humanity!) and "B" is on his usual Noble Savage tear. Well, boo-fucking hoo. Ayup, I could get behind a candidate who never fudged, shaded or pandered on the campaign trail no matter how little his various audiences wanted to hear the unvarnished truth, and that might get me, and my hypothetical candidate, about a fortnight—if that—past the Iowa caucuses before he dropped out. "B" mentioned Khrushchev a couple of threads downstream (mangling the name, natch). Our younger participants will not remember, but Nikita Sergeyevich ramped down the level of oppression in the USSR an order of magnitude or two from Stalin's grim imperium. Life got a lot better there between 1949 and 1959, and this came about not because the Butcher of the Ukraine was a nice guy, but because he was, for the era, something like the best of all possible leaders, the nearest approximation to a decent human being in the Presidium who survived the literally murderous political ecosystem that surrounded Stalin. In Shrove's Amerika we content ourselves these latter years with mere character assassination, but the political process synthesized by a servile corporate press, a Beltway culture of snide courtiers masquerading as "pundits," and a voting populace largely debauched by soundbite coverage (including both outright knuckle-draggers and suburban naifs) is itself a pretty fucking harsh environment in which the pure of principle do not thrive, and certainly never survive for consideration on the first Tuesday in November.
Yeah, we all want a presidential candidate who opposes every federal policy, be it war or subsidy, that we dislike, and who promises to maintain or enhance every program of which we approve. We want him to nominate judges who will rule our way every time on issues concerning which we feel strongly. The good news is that this candidate exists. The bad news, my friends, is that this candidate is otherwise manifestly unqualified, for it is each and every one of us, a constituency of one. But let's return to the real world.
In the "real" world (assuming that this shoddy simulacrum of a century, so at odds with what we were all promised, can be dignified with that adjective) we live in a corporate-dominated duopoly that tolerates the franchise provided that the actual options are severely restricted. Unfair? Of course. Get over it, sports fans. Does this mean that the functional distance between the options is less than we might like it? Yes again. Suck it up. Are we therefore to conclude that the differences between the two candidates are immaterial, that the consequences of victory for the one would deviate from the consequences of victory for the other in negligible degree?
Bush v. Gore, motherfuckers. If you think we'd be in this fix today had organized partisan thuggery, media complicity and magisterial prejudice not contrived between them to fix the 2000 election, then just click away to another blog. Your money's no good here, as the unfriendly bartender says.
Election's coming up. The GOP was so damaged, its "base" so fragmented, its candidates so dreadful (Hillbilly Theocrat? Il Duce? Folksy Second Coming of the Gipper? Lunatic Libertarian? Magic Underwearian?), its record so utterly discreditable, that the "Maverick"—talk about living on capital!—was the last man standing. A rational electorate, weighing a rational discussion by actual "pundits," might conclude that the GOP standard-bearer sallied forth for consideration beneath an utterly discredited banner. Certainly his differences with his royal predecessor are slender. Surveillance, torture and "the surge"—hey, McCain's golden. His volatility, impulsiveness and gambler's temperament have all been amply documented, but he survived [something] at the hands of the North Vietnamese communists! He is a manly man! —and of course, "He's a man of conviction! He doesn't waffle! Once he makes a decision he sticks to it, even if events prove him utterly wrong—he'll never compromise his principles!"
Where have we heard that last bit before?
Obama is no one's perfect vehicle. I wish that he had stood firm on FISA, but he's running for president, and the perfect is the enemy of the good. I wish he'd set forth the grim and—largely thanks to the feckless actions of this regime—narrow options that the next administration faces, but I have a more nuanced (there: I've said it) view of these than does the Sarah Palin-besotted "hockey mom" imagined by the popular press.
What I propose to vote for is an obviously thoughtful and intelligent candidate, perhaps not ideally seasoned (seasoning isn't everything: look at Dick Cheney, with a distinguished executive résumé—his shogunate has been an utter clusterfuck) but clearly a quick study, a competent campaign field marshal and, looking back on the Democratic field, in retrospect the best choice, "choice" being here defined as the nexus between candidate chops and administrative potential. My candidate's opponent is an elderly man who has nakedly compromised most of his best-publicized previous "maverick" stances in order to make himself right with the theocratic faction of the GOP (today a criminal conspiracy masquerading as an American political party), and who was demonstrated with his choice of Sarah Palin a stark naked contempt for the office to which she might thereby be made eligible someday to ascend.
To those of you in deep "red" or "blue" states who might be inclined to abstain or to vote your simon-pure "conscience," for Nader or some other deluded enabler, I'd remind you that according to Newsweek's post-election account in 2000, a Bush campaign official cheerfully acknowledged that they'd thought that they might win the popular vote while losing in the Electoral College, and that in that event they'd planned to scream bloody murder and to challenge the legitimacy of Gore's election. In the event, of course, they turned effortlessly on that dime, as Republicans will, and they carried the day, to our and the world's cost. If you despise the party of authoritarian theocracy, and unless you are prepared to countenance its continued rule until your hypothetical perfect candidate is elected president, you should take your fingers out of your fucking nostrils, wipe them off, and vote for Obama, who will need both for the election and afterward as solid a mandate as he and we can get.
But if it's all about your rugged individualism and your preternaturally discriminating sense of smell—hey, go crazy. It's not like it'll be a long walk.