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Column: Progressive Cause Ignored By Dems

This story was written by Kyle Szarzynski, Badger Herald

There are few things more annoying than some self-pitying and self-righteous liberal droning on about how Ralph Nader caused Al Gores loss in the 2000 presidential election. Because of the spoiler and his misinformed supporters, this person will argue, we have undergone eight years of a fascist hell, including a godforsaken war in Iraq, startling violations of civil liberties, and economic policies that have all but buried the Keynesian welfare state. Say what you will about Gore or Bill Clinton, but President George W. Bush has proven himself indisputably worse than his Democratic predecessors.

I always enjoy the defensive tone embedded in this argument; the best they can say is that a Gore presidency wouldnt have been as bad as a Bush one. This is probably though not certainly true, although one cant help but notice the nerve of placing the blame for the war in Iraq or the Patriot Act on good ol Ralph both these regrettable items passed both houses of Congress with the overwhelming support of the Democrats.

Further, anyone who thinks the pre-Bush 90s was some sort of progressive Golden Age is either depending on your age historically illiterate or possessing a short-term memory. Bush invaded Iraq? Yes, but Clinton imposed the economic sanctions (approximate Iraqi death toll according to the United Nations: 1,000,000) and repeatedly bombed the country throughout his presidency.

Its true that Bush signed the Patriot Act, but its also true that Clinton militarized police forces across the country and expanded the federal death penalty. Bush may have instituted some shady, behind-the-scenes surveillance of American citizens, but Clintons Attorney General spoke in support of the same policy in 1994 when he said, The president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purpose.

The Bush administration has moved toward privatizing Social Security and done some nasty things to Medicare, but none of this compares to Clintons own reactionary economic policies. He signed NAFTA, perhaps the single most devastating piece of legislation to the American and Mexican worker in the postwar era. He also sliced a large chunk of people a good many of them black off the welfare rolls in his 1996 bill, even as the real welfare royalty the CEOs on Wall Street never lacked a government handout under his administration.

There is no reason to think an Obama presidency will be any better; he has thoroughly integrated himself into the corporate and military establishment, leaving not a shred of his former self behind. He is, in short, a sellout.

Naturally, if I had to choose between the two, Id take Obama over McCain. The latter is, as far as I can tell, bordering on the psychopathic and banking on the primitive subconscious of the American people to usher him into the White House. He seems to think dropping bombs is the answer to everything, a belief which probably originates from his service record of dropping napalm on Vietnamese villages 40 years ago.

So, the choice for any sane, informed individual is between the lesser evil and the unelectable third party. Fortunately, its irrelevant at this point. The latest poll shows that Obama has a commanding 17-point lead in Wisconsin in other words, his victory in this state is all but assured.

In this context, why give your vote away to the Democratic fraud? Every election, good-natured progressives enter the voting booth conflicted, usually too guilt-ridden to cast their vote for the only decent candidate in the race. The Republicans have got to be stopped, or so their thinking goes, even if it means voting for the guy who is going to drop a few fewer bombs on some poor, dark-skinned country.

Thi time around, there should be no such internal conflict. With a McCain defeat in Wisconsin assured, there is no reason to allow Obama to claim your vote as part of his mandate. Independent Ralph Nader and the Green Partys Cynthia McKinney are both running on excellent platforms, the like of which are pretty standard stuff in American social justice circles: They want an immediate end to the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, a major crackdown on corporate crime and welfare, full equality for LGBT Americans, restoration of civil liberties, major investment in alternative energies, single-payer health care and free higher education (you will notice Obama supports none of these things). Their entire platforms can be found at and

The American political system has less to do with democracy than legitimizing corporate tyranny. Obama and McCain present us with no real choice. The genuine humanitarians are shut out from the corporate media and corporate debates, making them unelectable even as their policy positions appeal to simple common sense. This year, there is no reason for us to bolster the corporate party by voting for one of its two factions. The only reasonable thing to do is reject the whole charade and cast a vote for a candidate who actually shares your values.

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