Progressive voters are stuck with Hobson's choice in the 2012 Presidential election and most of us don't like it.
Voting Republican is an even worse choice. A lawyer friend said he will "hold my nose" and vote to re-elect Obama. My conscience won't let me do that because of his dismal, possibly criminal, record on civil liberties, torture, detention, rendition and war. I will cast my protest vote for the Green candidate, because I can in good conscience endorse that party's platform.
But that isn't an easy choice to make. I suspect that many progressives will refuse to support Obama with money this time around, yet will vote for him in November.
The actor and social justice activist, Mike Farrell, who contributed to the 2008 Obama campaign, refused to do so this year. When the campaign asked him why, this is what he told them:
Frankly, I hope President Obama wins re-election because I fear what will happen to this country if the Republicans control the White House as well as Congress. But I am sickened by many of the decisions the President has made, particularly as regards foreign affairs and what falls under the rubric of 'national defense.'
I despise the use of drones and believe the practice of using a "war" rationale to kill "terrorists," including American citizens, without any attempt at due process is destroying any semblance of the law-abiding, international law respecting, human-rights honoring nation we pretend to be.
In addition, since you asked, Iran poses no problem to the U.S. and whatever concern it creates for Israel is exaggerated beyond reason by Netanyahu and the right-wingers in his coalition. For our President to bow to the whims of the Israeli leadership because of domestic political concerns is embarrassing and demeaning to our country. It also serves to further alienate us from parts of the world that see us as Israel's sponsor and henchman in maintaining the illegal and counterproductive occupation of the people of the West Bank and the ongoing attempt to crush those in Gaza.
The President's caving on the issue of settlements was an embarrassment that painted a clear and unfortunate picture of the power dynamic between himself and Netanyahu.
I cling to the belief that President Obama is a good, decent and principled man, but his lack of willingness to stand up when courage and principle require it is disheartening. I want to see the man lead.
That is an excellent summary of the progressive voter's dilemma in 2012 and, unfortunately, it applies not only to the President but also to his party and most of its candidates as well.
For example, to the unanimous applause of progressives, the consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren is seeking the U.S. Senate seat from Massachusetts that once belonged to Ted Kennedy.
Now, some progressive writers are expressing concerns that she, like so many others in the Congress to which she aspires, has fallen into the hawkish clutches of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which literally dictates the failed American policy in the Middle East, and wants the U.S. to join in an attack on Iran.
The following paragraph on her campaign website is particularly bothersome:
As a United States Senator, I will work to ensure Israel’s security and success. I believe Israel must maintain a qualitative military edge and defensible borders. The United States must continue to ensure that Israel can defend itself from terrorist organizations and hostile states, including Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, and others.
If I were a Massachusetts voter, I would probably cast my ballot for Warren, hoping that in office she would moderate her position on Israel and Palestine, much as, say, Dennis Kucinich modified his position on women's rights to make their own health choices.
But, like Mike Farrell, I am dismayed that it is the progressive voter who has to compromise his principles by voting for the lesser of evils. We of the left have effectively surrendered control of the political vocabulary and process to the extreme far right.
And that's a damned shame.