This is the most asinine article I have read in some time. It reminds me why I temporarily stopped reading this blog for a while some years ago over some disagreement or other, now long forgotten but blaming Obama for the plight of African Americans during his term in office is as simplistic as it is deluded. It is, though I am sure he would not understand it, right out of the Republican playbook.
Of course he could and perhaps, should, have done better. Of course he made many mistakes both of commission and omission. Of course he does not walk on water.
Obama is responsible for the rise in food stamp enrollments, job losses, migraine headaches, and celebrity misconduct. After all, it all happened during his presidency.
And then to announce that he has a reasonable solution: voting for unicorn tamer, Jill Stein, is ludicrous.
This reminds me of the old,old days (I'm almost 80) when I would argue with Communists that they had a serious misconception of how the world really worked, that their world view did not take into account the nature and allure of power itself even when divorced from greed. It was fruitless because the position was a position drawn from faith and not susceptible to reason.
We do not live in a country with a parliamentary system. We do not have proportional representation. Our elections are NOT multiple choice but binary. If you do not vote for one of the two major candidates, you are voting for the other. Oh my goodness, much of the time I wish it were otherwise but it is not!
There is no rational argument for voting for Mitt Romney and the Republican thugs!! None!! And a vote for anyone but Obama is a vote for Romney.
Only a very foolish, deluded, soul over the age of 12 would have forgotten the lessons of 2000. The principled, virtuous vote for Nader, who I supported until the last minutes, led to the murder of millions, the destruction of the world's economy, misery on a colossal scale while enriching the meanest, most vicious people on this sad little planet of ours! But then those who voted for Nader setting up the opportunity for the election to be stolen by the Supreme Court can forget about all of that and feel quite smug about their virtuous behavior.
This posting was as pathetic a piece of work as I have seen in some time except, perhaps, for Matt Stoller's recent mental flatulence.
I also voted for Jill Stein. And I regularly visit the Black Agenda Report (http://www.blackagendareport.com/), which has never been fooled by Obama. Obama = inequality triumphant.
By no means did my article claim that the plight of African-Americans in today's economy is the fault of Barack Obama. Blacks have been mistreated and left behind in this country for almost four centuries. Nor should anyone have expected Obama to wave a magic wand and change race relations in the US. Such attitudes change very slowly, mostly because we die and new generations come along with different assumptions. But laws help, and education helps. In this regard, his occupation of the office itself is symbolically quite important, and I don't regret voting for him for exactly that reason. Unfortunately, as Younge says in his article (which you really should read, it's wonderfully insightful), Obama's presidency hasn't been economically good for blacks, even when compared to their white neighbors in an admittedly tough economy.
Obama's fault lies not in failing to fix things; any attempt to improve the situation was almost certain to be filibustered in the Senate. In fact, compared to recent Democratic presidents, his tenure has been quite creditable. He stabilized the economy, passed a health-care reform law, and performed the vital service to his party of holding the right flank against assaults from the army of Koch, Rove, and so on.
My point is that while this is a solid performance for a Democrat, I'm not a Democrat. I don't believe we should have 800 military bases around the world, or that the Justice Department should be raiding medical marijuana clubs, or that we can't close Guantanamo, or that we need to be murdering people around the world with drones, or that we need to record every email, telephone call, telegram, and so on. In that sense I'm a libertarian.
But in most senses I'm a provisional socialist and I'm returning to my normal patterns. I think of it as provisional because I really favor anarchy, but I don't think we've evolved our individual consciousnesses enough to pull it off; so libertarian socialism seems to be the best available alternative for me. Those who feel comfortable in the Democratic party should continue to vote their convictions, as in fact should we all. I'd rather vote for what I want and not get it than vote for what I don't want and get it. If, as I said in the article, Romney wins California you can blame me. I'll be impressed if the influence of Bad Attitudes is broad enough to overcome Obama's fifteen-point lead here, but who knows?
My practice account at Intrade is all in on Obama winning, Romney losing, the Democrat taking at least 260 electoral votes, and the result being Democrats in the White House and Senate with Republicans in the House. I expect to make close to 50% profit on my play-money investment there. Wish I'd had the $5K in real bucks a few weeks ago!
And finally, the notion that my vote is the rightful possession of whoever the Democratic party nominates, and that by voting my conscience I'm responsible for Democrats losing states I don't live in, is risible.
I don't understand what has made you so disgusted with this article, Albaz. Black Americans voted for President Obama under the assumption that a Black man would be motivated to address the continued inequality faced by the Black community. I am a biracial Black woman and I, personally, am unbelievably disappointed by the way Obama has ignored issues of race during the past four years. This article is very interesting and relevant. I am one of the few Black individuals I know who feels the need to openly critique Obama. It's, sadly, even more painful to suffer from structural inequality in a country that is led by someone who is a member of my own race.
Look, Chuck, I agree with you on almost all the objections you raised as to Obama's record with respect to continuing the militarism and many of his domestic policies, etc, etc. I understand when I vote that whomever I am voting for will take my vote for granted, at best, and, at worst, betray my support for personal political gain. Perhaps you live in one of the 43 state which are already given up to one party or the other and your vote doesn't matter. My point was made. While you might think you are making a moral choice in advocating for Jill Stein, it is quite the opposite. I got the idea of calling her a unicorn trainer from something Charlie Pierce wrote in a commentary about Matt Stoller's foolish stand. It made the point that whatever her "agenda" was was meaningless -- as vacuous as Romney's imaginary budget -- because she could have no power to enact it.
We have just two choices. One is criminally obscene, the other may be questionable but I choose to live in the real world, thank you, I'll take my chances with the latter choice and hope for the best.
A lot of the loss of wealth from African Americans since 2008 is likely from the playout of disproportionately unfair mortgage deals that were locked in during the under-regulated boom under Bush.
Obama has been disappointing, yes, on economic and human rights both, but it's only fair to say this too.
Look, Romney isn't merely a theocrat, a misogynist and an oligarch. He's also the most profoundly inauthentic major candidate for the office since Nixon.
Time to hold your nose and vote Obama.
My personal stance against war, for example, will certainly not keep it from happening. Nor will my stance against warrantless wiretapping prevent it.
My point is that having no power to enact my agenda doesn't mean my agenda's wrong. And having the power to enact my agenda would seem generally to be a poor standard by which to choose a candidate.
Others may think it's more moral to vote for Obama, and that's fine with me. I consider him a war criminal for reasons that must be obvious, and I long ago gave up voting for the type; even when my candidate won I was regretful. I don't see how I can expect such a resilient and well-tuned imperial system to change when it's led by willing participants in its crimes. Nor do I see how voting for people who have already committed those crimes — not theoretically willing to, but already have — can advance any cause I can get behind. And this is just the sphere of war and peace; we haven't even begun to talk economics or civil liberties.
I'm open to arguments on the philosophical point. Listing Romney's faults is not an argument, however; Obama sucks too. If Obama sucks less by your standards, by all means vote for him. Claiming the moral high ground while asserting a unique claim on the specification of reality appears to bypass the critical stage of presenting an argument.
Finally, Albaz, I do hope you will contact Jerry, you might find it interesting.