June 9, 2008

Edited Post - On principles, emails and Obama

I am editing this post as I violated a trust in posting a portion of a private email. That was wrong of me, and I publicly apologize. What follows is a condensed version of my original post. I think it important to keep this part, because the arguments I heard from my friend are ones that I have heard over and over again, and I'd like my words to stand.

My answer below is to those who are encouraging me to support Obama in the General Election and who think that those of us who are struggling with whom to support in the general, or who have made their decision not to support Obama, to leave the Democratic Party, or what ever other road they have taken are doing it merely out of spite or anger about our loss. What follows is my opinion, and again, I apologize for the trust I violated.

Dear Obama supporters:

This isn't about Hillary. It is about something much larger. It is about the Democratic Party. And it is about principle. I have been a member of the Democratic Party since I was eighteen years old and first registered to vote. That would be 1974, right at the end of the Vietnam War. We fought to get 18-year-olds the vote, because, gee, if one was old enough to die in a war, shouldn't they be old enough to vote?

I joined the Democratic Party because it was as close to my hippy/social justice/progressive ideals as I could find: Civil rights, women's rights, environmental care, workers rights, equal opportunity, education, fair play, etc.

Yes, My Party is supposed to stand for certain key issues, chief amongst them: women's rights and voting rights. This primary has shown me that the Democratic Party, while full of real people down here on the ground who genuinely care about these issues, has leaders that will stand silently by while one of their own is slandered in the media and by surrogates of the Obama campaign. The sexism and outright misogyny of the MSM, and the willingness of the Obama campaign to paint two of the most devoted civil rights activists in the Democratic Party, Bill and Hillary Clinton, as racists was beyond the pale. The inference also that anyone who supported her was either racist, uneducated or a dried up old feminist, didn't win any brownie points either. I've been through a lot of contentious primaries, but I've never been on the receiving end of such vitriol from members of my own party.

However, the final straw that broke my Democratic back was the RBC meeting in which the committee met behind closed doors, came up with their own solution, held a sham of a public hearing and then awarded delegates to Barack Obama that were not his, even as defined by the "RULES" that the Obama people, and a personal note from Howard Dean to me, kept telling me HAD to be followed. From the moment when the DNC RBC made the decision back in 2007 to slash the Florida and Michigan delegations I have opposed the move. What happened on May 31st was just the final nail in the coffin. To blatantly disregard their own rules about "uncommitted" delegates and award them to a candidate who removed himself the ballot. Barack Obama was not "left off" or "removed" by some subterfuge of some demonic "other" but by his own choosing, even though he was under no obligation to do so. It was a bad campaign strategy, but the RBC chose to reward him for it. You do know that the highly vaunted "rules" allow for uncommitted delegates to attend the convention if they reach a certain threshold of support, usually 15%, which was more than met in Michigan with 40% of the votes going to "uncommitted." The rules do not allow the DNC, the RBC, to allocate those delegates to a candidate. Nor do the rules allow the RBC to use some arbitrary finger in the air method to divine voter intent and take legitimately earned delegates from one candidate and award them to another.

This is the heart of the matter. It matters not to me that Obama may eventually have won. The finger the RBC put on the scale to shove Obama over the finish line is unforgivable (pardon the mixed metaphor) and goes against everything our democracy stands for. In 2000 when the Supreme Court stopped the counting and awarded the presidency to Bush, I was physically ill for weeks. But I thought it was just "them" - the evil Republicans. Until now. Now I see that the Democratic Party is not above thwarting the will of the voter either.

Worse yet, the Democratic Party no longer has the moral authority to lecture the Republicans about election fraud because the actions of the DNC and the Rules and Bylaws committee. This is the bigger picture. Not a Democrat in the White House.

You all keep reminding me of what's "at stake." My thoughts:

Iraq: Obama claims he was against the war from the beginning based on ONE speech he gave in a very liberal district in Illinois. What peace marches did he lead? What editorials did he write? More importantly, what has he done since being in the U.S. Senate to give anyone the idea that he is vehemently opposed to the war?

The Environment: He voted FOR Cheney's oil bill. Clinton and McCain opposed it. He supports nuclear and clean coal.

Economy: He voted against the 30% cap on credit card interest rates. He said it was because it was too high. Really? At least it would have been something rather than the NOTHING we have now. Clinton supported it. I have no confidence in his ability to turn the economy around.

Women's Rights: Obama says that woman should have "some" control over their bodies. WHAA? He voted "present" on key choice bills in Illinois. Frankly, I am not sure where he stands. And the fact that he stood silently by while the MSM savaged Hillary speaks volumes.

Choice: Though I am past the point personally of needing to worry about this issue, however, in many parts of our country the right to choose has been severely crippled, and for all intents and purposes, Roe-v-Wade does not exist for many women. Yet Roe-v-Wade still "stands." For too long this issue has been used as a club by the left AND the right to keep their respective constituencies in line and coming out to vote. You all just can't hold that over our heads any more.

Gay rights - You do know who Donny McClurkin and Rev. James Meeks are don't you? You do know that Obama would not get his picture taken with Gavin Newsom, mayor of San Francisco. I hardly think Obama is a friend of the gay community. Yes, I know he's given some anti-homophobia lip service, but again, words vs action. It's very important to me.

Respect around the world: It is Bush and his neocons that have destroyed it. I do not think that John McCain, should he be elected, will be the bellicose child that GW is.

Health Care for all - Hillary's passion is health care and she promises universal health care. Obama says we can't do it and he's not even going to try. John Kerry, the last Democratic nominee I campaigned for (even though he was my fourth choice) says Hillary's plan was DOA in the Senate. Say what? A core Democratic ideal is DOA? One that's been in our party platform since 1948? DOA? Are you kidding me?

Barack Obama will not get my vote, not just for the sort of campaign he ran, but for many of the reasons you bring up. He can put anything he wants on his web site, but they really are "just words" because I have not seen anything in his actions that tell me he is nothing more than an opportunist, with a paper thin resume, who is willing to throw key Democratic constituencies as well as his own family and life-long friends under the bus in order to win. When I began to examine the candidates, and though I opposed the AUMF vote and was deeply disappointed at the time with Hillary's vote, I took a look at the bigger picture and found Hillary's commitment to core Democratic issues compelling.

Furthermore, what is Obama's signature issue? I can't figure that out either. What is his "baby?" What is the issue he is most at home with, knows details no one else does? Has taken fire for?

I wanted to be able to support Obama, and in fact, did not begin this primary season feeling as I do now. His 2004 speech at the Democratic Convention thrilled me and I thought that he would be a rising star and followed him closely, but once he got to the Senate, he continually disappointed me as just another go-along-to-get along Democrat. A year after he began in the Senate, he already had his eye on the next prize, so much so that he couldn't be bothered to call any meetings of the NATO sub-committee he was given chairmanship in January 2007 because, as he ADMITS, he was too busy running for President. Hillary, on the other hand, managed to call several hearings of her sub-committee during the same time when she also was running for President. You see? She's the wonk. She's the work horse. She honored her New York constituents by continuing to do the job they sent her to Washington to do, even while running for higher office. I don't support her because she is a woman. I support her because she is the most qualified, most issue-oriented, most willing to put in the hours needed for the American people. Next in line of experience? John McCain.

Finally, if John McCain is elected, it is the duty of a Democratic-controlled Congress to keep the President in check, but based on the actions of the Democratic majority these past two years, I see little hope of that happening. However, hope springs eternal and to that end I will be supporting Democrats down-ticket and hope that a larger majority might help them to locate their spines. That's the best I can do.

And in the meantime, I'm saying what I've heard many say before me and never understood before: "I didn't leave the Democratic Party, it left me." Man, I owe those people an apology.

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The Red Queen said...

I've been all over Europe since Bush was elected. No one ever asked me who I voted for. (Of course the last time I went, no one guessed I was American. Brit or Italian, but not American.)

OK- for the list of points. Obama sucks on the economy (anti- keynesian , hands off corporate deregulation is not the way to go during bank failures.) Likes to travel with homobigot preachers, doesn't think women should have full control over their own bodies, and has exactly no international relations experience. The only place where he beats McCain is on the environment, and Obama isn't Al Gore.

And on the Iraq War vote- dude needs to watch Joe Wilson smack the smugness of BO's anti-war stance. Joe Wilson was anti-Iraq war before we knew one was coming.

Cathylee said...

Exceedingly well-said, Carissa and red queen. Let me add my own emphasis: There are a myriad of ways that what we've witnessed is intolerable and arguably deal-breaking for the United States as we know it. But at the apex sits the inescapable fact that, like the opposition party in 2000 and 2004, the democratic party has decreed the outcome of this year's nomination. To find party unity with them, for whatever cogent reasons are trotted out, is to be complicit in what they have done. I will never hitch my wagon to anyone who patently worked to subvert the democratic process we hold sacred. Before you vote for their chosen child, ask yourselves if you wish to proceed with this form of our democratic republic--one where the parties put forward the candidates and the electorate fall into line accordingly. Hmmmm. Sounds vaguely reminiscent of another form of government. So don't anyone dare tell me that we need party unity. Now--now that both parties have seen fit to disengage themselves from our election laws and Constitutional framework--now is not the time for 'party unity'. NOW IS THE TIME TO FIGHT LIKE HELL.

carissa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marco said...

Obama gets endorsed by NARAL, gets backed up by Planned Parenthood of Chicago saying that he was a strong proponent for choice when he was a state senator, has a 100% percent voting record from Planned Parenthood, and has said things like: "Thirty-five years after the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, it’s never been more important to protect a woman’s right to choose."

Here is what he said on the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade: http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/reproductive_rights/2008/01/obama-on-choice.html

Your questioning of Obama's stance on choice seems to me to be motivated by sexism, purely based on his gender. If he was a woman with the above attributes, you would never question his commitment to choice.

The Red Queen said...

Blue darling- Colleen is an Obama plant. that same comment has shown up at pro hill sites all over the intertubes today. Violet Socks traced the ip addy back a bunch of other obot troll comments on her site

carissa said...

Marco - Um. No. It has NOTHING to do with his gender. It has to do with his "present" votes and the fact that he thinks women should have "some" control over their bodies. I have no doubt that men can be fully committed to a woman's right to choose. I'm married to one of them. So cut the crap with this "sexism" bullshit.

carissa said...

Thanks RQ - duly noted and deleted.

Marco said...

The "present" stuff is a red herring. A quote from Planned Parenthood Chicago:

"When Obama was an Illinois state senator he worked with Planned Parenthood to develop a strategy combating a series of extreme anti-choice measures designed to paint pro-choice legislators into a corner. Obama and numerous other state senators voted “present” on these bills in order to protest the politicization of the health and safety of Illinois women. Illinois is one of the few states that allows legislators to voice their objections to legislation through a “present” vote. These “present” votes are counted in the official roll call of the bill, and they DO affect the outcome. For all intents and purposes, they are a vote against the bill. As a matter of fact, Senator Obama wanted to vote “no” on these bills. But, he stood with his colleagues in protest against the anti-choice extremists who controlled the Illinois Senate at the time." [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-trombley/setting-the-record-straig_b_85187.html]

Please don't distort Obama's excellent record on choice based on a lack of understanding of Illinois state politics.

The "some control" line is not as out there as you may think. For example, Clinton is even more conservative than Obama when it comes to drug prohibition, so she clearly also believes that women (and men) shouldn't have full control over their bodies. You are trying too hard to read between the lines -- Obama is solid on choice, and more importantly, will nominate those to the Supreme Court who would respect the precedence of Roe v. Wade. It's you versus pretty much every respectable defender of choice in this country on this matter.

carissa said...

Thanks for the rebuttal. However you say:

Clinton is even more conservative than Obama when it comes to drug prohibition, so she clearly also believes that women (and men) shouldn't have full control over their bodies.

You are comparing apples and oranges here. BTW, I have a very liberal (some would say libertarian) view on drugs. I think they should all be legal and abuse should be considered a public health issue (like smoking and drinking) rather than a criminal one.

The Red Queen said...

Fine Marcos- explain why it is that Obama needed to be reminded by an aid that if he voted yes on John Roberts confirmation (a guy who he clearly admires) that women would be pissed and not vote for him. When half the fricken country is screaming "what about Roe V Wade" the guy can't seem to remember that it might be important to women to have control over their own bodies.

And next time some Obot throws Roe in my face - I'm throwing roberts back at them.

Oh yeah- then there's his mushy stance on parental notification laws, but those are teen girls who can't vote so he can afford to sell them out.

Marco said...

I agree with you on that one. Too bad Question 7 failed.

Marco said...

"Explain why it is that Obama needed to be reminded by an aid that if he voted yes on John Roberts confirmation"

Citation please. All I know about is his vote, which was against Roberts's nomination. Which I actually sort of disagreed with, because if Roberts had been turned down we probably would've been stuck with someone much worse.

FYI, Hillary Clinton has supported parental notification laws:

"I believe in parental notification. I think there are exceptions. There are situations in which the family is so dysfunctional that notification is not appropriate. In general, I think families should be part of helping their children through this." [http://www.ontheissues.org/social/Hillary_Clinton_Abortion.htm] -- That's pretty much Obama's stance word for word as well.

The Red Queen said...


And Hillary has an extensive pro choice history. Extensive.

At every opportunity, when Obama could have said "I am unequivocally for the right for women to have full bodily autonomy" he's flaked. That may be okay for you, since judging from your screen name you ain't gonna have your feet up in the stirrups in this lifetime. But it's not good enough for me. And I have had my feet in the stirrups.

And here's the some control citation too- just cause I'm sure you're too lazy to look it up.

Marco said...

"And Hillary has an extensive pro choice history. Extensive."

And I would never question her commitment to choice, just as there is no reason to question Obama's. My point is that you can be committed to choice and, like Hillary Clinton, support parental notification.

Thanks for the Roberts citation. It does indeed show that his vote against Roberts was likely a political move -- as I said above, I would've been fine if he had voted to confirm Roberts, because the alternative would likely have been worse, and it would likely harm the ability for the next Democratic president to put some excellent jurists in. It's a shame. But there's not a single major candidate out there who hasn't had a political vote, and in my book, Clinton's Iraq war vote was much more egregious. -1 for Obama on this one, but he's still better than McCain, who confirmed Roberts not despite but because of his likelihood to vote to overturn Roe.

"I am unequivocally for the right for women to have full bodily autonomy"

Has Clinton said this? If she did, she wasn't telling the truth, as she supports drug prohibition, parental notification, and opposes late-term abortion (except in life/health situations). What you are doing is called the "straw man" argument -- that is, you are attacking Obama on choice issues where he has exactly the same stance as Clinton. You are *looking* for a reason to fear his stance on choice.

"And I have had my feet in the stirrups."

This is that sexism I was referring to that seems prevalent here. Now you are questioning my *own* commitment to choice, without any supporting evidence, without knowing what I do professionally, without knowing who my loved ones are, without even knowing if I'm a Planned Parenthood employee or not, but merely on the gender implied by my name.