Tag Archives: liberal democrats

Voting for Hilary Clinton? Red Lines versus Lesser of Evils

14 Jul

 

 

Assuming that the current prospects for presidential candidates hold firm, and Hilary Clinton is nominated by the Democrats and Jeb Bush, Rick Rubio, or Scott Walker win the Republican nomination, what should a conscientious citizen do when it comes to voting in November 2016? Of course, step one is to rule out support for the Republican candidates due to their regressive views on a range of social and economic issues, and their militarist bluster on foreign and defense policy. Step two is more difficult. Clinton is clearly preferable if the domestic agenda is taken into account, and probably no worse than the Republicans when it comes to foreign policy, but also not noticeably better, and in some ways more objectionable.

 

For instance, she begins her recent letter to the billionaire arch Zionist mega-donor and longtime Clinton family supporter, Haim Saban, on July 7, 2015 this way: “I am writing to express my alarm over the boycott, divestment, and sanction movement, ‘BDS,’ a global effort to isolate the State of Israel by ending commercial and academic exchanges.” She seeks Saban’s guidance in pursuit of this nefarious goal with this deferential language: “Now I am seeking your thoughts and recommendations on how leaders and communities across America can work together to counter BDS.”

 

I am sure it didn’t escape the gurus of the Clinton campaign that Saban had joined with the casino mogul, Sheldon Adelson not long ago to headline a donors gathering at which each participant was expected to pledge $1 million to fight BDS. Although Adelson identifies as Republican and Saban as Democrat, both fervently embrace the Netanyahu brand of Israeli leadership. Saban has been quoted on Iran in language that manages to outdo Bibi, “I would bomb the daylight out of those sons of bitches.”

 

Clinton has a variety of other scary credentials, including voting in support of the Iraq War of 2003, and to this day remains unwilling to admit that the war was at the very least a tragic mistake, and more accurately, a costly international crime. She not only argued for intervention in Libya in 2011, but made a chilling comment on CBS News after learning of the grisly vigilante execution of Muammar Qaddafi: “We came, we saw, he died.” Further, among the emails that Clinton has long withheld from the public are several that substantiate the charges that France from the outset both intended to overthrow the Qaddafi regime, and expected to reap economic benefits by way of the spoils of war, especially with respect to Libya’s oil wealth. It is not that Clinton actually conspired with such plans while serving as Secretary of State, but she did knowingly lead the effort to support the French-led NATO intervention in 2011, claiming that its limited goal was the protection of Libyan civilians in Benghazi, when she was well aware that the real purpose of the UN-mandated intervention was regime-change in Tripoli.

 

Here is my dilemma. In view of such considerations, does one vote for Hilary Clinton with eyes wide open because she is likely to be better for ordinary Americans on a range of crucial issues, including some effort to challenge the obscene scandal of growing inequalities and sustained slippage in the real income and labor rights of workers and the accumulated hardships on much of the middle class? Or does one say there are certain candidates whose views are so abhorrent as to be unsupportable without weighing their suitability against alternatives? Many remember the acrimonious debates along the same lines concerning the 2000 campaign pitting Bush against Gore, and allegedly lost by Gore in Florida because Ralph Nader, running as a third party candidate, received over 90,000 votes, arguably more than enough to swing the state to Gore’s side of the ledger, and thus enough electoral votes to win the presidency. Most Democrats angrily dismissed Nader as a spoiler and harshly criticized supporters for indulging in irresponsible political behavior. As someone who voted for Nader in 2000, while coming to detest the Bush presidency, I continue to believe that primary duty of citizens in a democratic society is to be on most occasions responsive to their conscience rather than to attempt pragmatic calculations often glamorized as ‘the best being the enemy of the good.’ In the case more accurately phrases as ‘the worst being the enemy of the bad.’ I do admit that I didn’t realize in 2000 that Bush would turn out as badly as he did, and if I had, I might have wavered.

 

Looking ahead to 2016 the issue of choice can be at this stage put as follows: vote for Hilary Clinton as ‘the lesser of evils’ or vote for Jill Stein of the Green Party as the most attractive presidential candidate, but someone with no chance to do more than enliven the debate and give alienated voters like myself a positive option that feels better than not voting. Remember that there were those establishment liberals who in the tense days after the 9/11 attacks were ready to rationalize torture as the lesser of evils. It was alleged lesser as compared to the need for information that would lead to dangerous terrorist suspects, but where it actually led was to Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, and a nationally humiliating orgy of torture with very little security payoff. The Kathryn Bigelow film on the search for and execution of Osama Bin Laden, “Zero Dark Thirty,” also gave a bright green light to the torture policies of the Bush presidency, fed to the public by the grotesque evasion embedded in the words ‘enhanced interrogation.’

 

The alternative logic may be described as respect for ‘red lines.’ I happen to believe that the BDS campaign is a desirable and an essential step in the redesign of a peace process that might produce a just and sustainable peace for Palestinians and Israelis

after more than 67 years of agonizing failure, including the recent frustrations associated with the Oslo diplomacy initiated by the handshake in 1993 between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat, with a beaming Bill Clinton standing in between. For me, Hilary Clinton crossed my red line with her craven letter to Haim Saban, making it impossible for me to vote for her by invoking the alternative logic of the lesser of evil. But maybe, although unlikely, by the time November 2016 comes around, I might reconsider.

 

I realize that if one of those awful Republicans is elected president by a close vote that is skewed by Green Party votes, I will be bitterly criticized by liberal friends. I admit that it is a tricky issue on principled grounds. Livelihoods and wellbeing will almost certainly be adversely affected by a Republican victory, whereas the differences in foreign policy between the two candidates are murky at best, and on Israel/Palestine there is no up side regardless of which party prevails. At the same time, the American plutocracy has become a bipartisan enterprise, calling for resistance as an ethical and political imperative, acknowledging the validity of Chris Hedges’ powerfully reasoned insistence that the country is experiencing pre-revolutionary tremors.

 

At this stage of the electoral process, my overall sense is that the lesser of evils is still evil, and that morally significant red lines are important for citizens to draw and respect. Until further notice, then, I have decided not to cast my vote for Hilary Clinton.  

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The Paradox of Conservative Campaign Solicitations: A Sequel to Critique of Democratic Party Fundraising

15 May

 

The Paradox of Conservative Campaign Solicitations: A Sequel to Critique of Democratic Party Fundraising 

 

I put a post on this website a few days ago complaining about the approach taken by liberals in recent years to soliciting financial support via the Internet. By perverse coincidence, I received a comparable appeal from one of the leading Tea Party ‘conservatives,’ Ted Cruz, Republican senator from Florida, who made national headlines by delivering a 21 hour speech on the floor of the Senate denouncing Obamacare, insisting that this health plan was a menace to the nation and the constitutional integrity of relations between government, society, and citizen.

 

As in my criticisms of the liberal style of solicitation, my interest is not here in the substantive implications of the appeal, but in the way of relating to the citizenry, being disturbed by Democratic Party notables who approach supposed supporters among the citizenry as of little relevance other than as cash cows available for frequent milking! Such a monetizing of the state/society relationship was further corrupted by the false note of addressing me by my first name and signing it with a similar flourish of familiarity. Whoever drafted such a personal appeal, which would certainly not be the signatory, must believe that such shallow intimacy will persuade most recipients to more readily part with a few dollars.

 

Reacting to the appeal from Senator Cruz that is pasted below for your ‘reading pleasure’(!), a few observations occur to me. First of all, there is a greater dignity in being addressed, however wrongly, as ‘Dear Fellow Conservative’ rather than as ‘Richard,’ ending with the formal signoff of ‘Senator Ted Cruz,’ which I found less off putting than ‘Barack’ or ‘Michelle,’ or in my example, ‘Debbie.’ Also, compare the subject lines used by Debbie Wasserman Schultz in messages received the last two days: “This is personal, Richard” My response: “It is anything but personal.” The subject line of her second message was along the same lines: “Can We Count on You, Richard?” My response: “Get real, first.”

 

Further, and more tellingly, the Cruz message is about the political importance of selecting the Republican candidate who will have the best chance of becoming the next senator from Nebraska because of his ideological alignment and stands on issues of principle. There is no mention of money, only a call for support, and the sly promise of promoting a political upset. In the accompanying message signed by the candidate in this primary election, Ben Sasse, substantive issues are stressed, and the appeal for funds is not personalized beyond the usual stress on the relevance of sufficient money to buy the TV time that will offset the funding power of the competing candidate whose campaign has far greater resources. An aggregate sum needed to achieve this result is mentioned, but no suggestion is made as to how much is expected to be contributed by each recipient of the message. It is left to me to decide how much I will give if I am persuaded, which for substantive reasons, I am not. Incidentally, Sasse scored an upset in this primary earlier in the week, and will be the Republican candidate in the Nebraska Senate race come November.

 

I will leave for another time, whether such Republicans relying on the label of ‘conservative,’ however sincere, obscures more than it discloses. To be clear, I support Obamacare 100%. My only wish is that the legislation had been more generous and inclusive. Without governmental empathy, tangibly expressed in action, for the many poor and marginal living within our affluent borders, there is little worth conserving except perhaps the wealth of the conservatives.

 

********************

THE TEXT OF SENATOR TED CRUZ AND BEN SASSE MESSAGES:

 

Fellow Conservative,

 

I am writing today to ask you to support Ben Sasse for U.S. Senate from Nebraska. He is a strong defender of the Constitution. Ben has the courage and character to stand on principle and to tell the bosses in Washington, “I don’t work for you. I work for the people of Nebraska.”

 

 

Ben is a leader in the fight against ObamaCare. He has read the entire ObamaCare bill, and he has a plan to stop it.

 

We need more conservatives who will stand up to defend the Constitution the way that Ben Sasse will. Both Sen. Mike Lee and I urgently need reinforcements like Ben in the U.S. Senate.

 

Please read the below email from Ben and share it with friends? With two days to go until Election Day, I strongly encourage you to support Ben.

 

Sincerely,

 

Senator Ted Cruz

 

 

https://owa.princeton.edu/owa/redir.aspx?C=OK3y_PwUKkKnYQkPrK3iEkSFSrKcQdEIXTdzIkoqcAO8iS5oYDIM84rC7mYXSGEwJ50MLIPYR1U.&URL=https%3a%2f%2fnews.psysmtp.com%2fwta%2flink.php%3fM%3d31172393%26N%3d96763%26L%3d34758%26F%3dH

 

Dear Conservative,

 

I am proud to have the support of Ted Cruz. And I urgently need his help and yours right now to pull off the conservative “upset of the year.”

 

The DC Lobbyist Establishment is 100% determined to stop me. And I can’t survive their onslaught without you by my side.

 

My name is Ben Sasse and my U.S. Senate primary in Nebraska two days from now is the most important race in the nation bar none.

 

The truth is simple. Right now there’s a war raging for the heart and soul of the GOP.

 

On one side stand conservatives like Ted Cruz and Mike Lee who refuse to sit back to let Obama “fundamentally transform” America. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee know the country is at stake — and they want to go on offense and fight for it.

 

On the other side stands the “Old Guard” Washington Establishment. They are raising big bucks for my opponent and will do anything necessary to stop our campaign before May 13.

 

This primary contest may well determine who runs the Republican Party: Conservatives or the Washington Establishment.

 

It’s why the Washington Post is running a story with the headline “Why Nebraska is a make-or-break Senate race for the tea party”.

 

I am not preferred choice of the Permanent Political Class in DC. I’m going to Washington to fight for conservative principles. And that’s why Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Sarah Palin, and Tom Coburn support me.

 

 

 

 

 

But even more threatening, my opponent is raising a flood of cash from Washington, D.C. lobbyists who mostly care about making money off taxpayers for their clients.

 

This is a direct threat to the conservative values you and I hold.

 

Let’s understand something important: the problem in D.C. is not just that the Democrats are in charge. The problem is that we have too many Republicans who think Big Government is perfectly fine and just wish they were in charge.

 

I do not believe in that. I believe that we must be the Party that stands up for liberty, against Big Government and the Special Interests that leech off of it.

 

The DC Lobbyist Establishment is funneling money to my opponent as fast as they can. And I can’t turn on television or radio without hearing some dishonest attack ad that smears my name.

 

I need the help of conservative leaders like you to fight these attacks.

 

With two days left, I need to make an emergency media buy of $67,382 and I need your help to raise it.

 

Too many Republicans go to DC because they want to be in the “Senate Club” and have fancy dinners with lobbyists.

 

That’s not me. I’m going to Washington to fight for conservatives.

 

And today I need you to stand with me to win this primary.

 

Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Sarah Palin, and Tom Coburn are in.

 

Are you?

 

Two days left please consider helping me raise $67,382 for my emergency media buy. Please help me right now.

 

For America,

 

Ben Sasse