Election 2012

Anti-Obama Progressives are Voting for a Romney Disaster

My Monday column tackles the latest progressive vote-against-Obama argument:

It's difficult to make it through a day of political reading without stumbling onto another progressive screed in a long syllabus of screeds about how President Obama is worse than George W. Bush. I'm sure you're familiar with the rogue's gallery of writers and their grievances. Recently, however, these posts have added an extra layer of questionable judgment involving a plea to progressives to vote against the president in the forthcoming election.

So far, I'm aware of three major posts along these lines.

First, there was John Cusack's interview/discussion with George Washington University constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley in which the activists discussed their "Rubicon Line" -- actions by the president that went too far, thus forcing Cusack and Turley to vote for a third party candidate this year. Then there was Conor Friedersdorf's post for The Atlantic in which he made a similar case against the president's record on civil liberties and national security. Drones, indefinite detention and the like. Friedersdorf wrote a follow-up item here. And on Saturday, vocal anti-Obama progressive Matt Stoller wrote an extended post for Salon.com, which outlines exactly what he and other progressives expect to achieve by voting for a third party candidate.

It's difficult to know where to begin because there were so many things about Stoller's post that were nearsighted or downright wrong. [continued]

Continue reading here.

  • bphoon

    I think one of Obama’s strengths is that he chooses his fights and invests his political capital in issues that have an actual chance of seeing the light of day. I don’t always agree with how he chooses to get things done but I generally agree with the priorities he sets.

    The left, in their penchant for investing themselves in their fantasy of the world as they think it ought to be, styled Obama as some firebrand from the left who would by his force of will alone bring down the whole conservative movement single handedly. Look at his record and read his writings, though, and you’ll find he’s a center-left pragmatist. Always has been, always will be. I like that about him. It’s that kind of outlook that tends to get things done.

    It strikes me that the so-called left’s goal is to either engineer or allow a social and economic disaster of massive proportions so they can step into the void and reshape the whole of our political system while the right’s obvious goal is to engineer or allow a social and economic disaster of massive proportions so they can step into the void and reshape the whole of our political system. The difference is that, while the right wants to reshape the world in their own image using policy prescriptions they actually, although nominally, believe in, the left is willing to allow–or worse, to promote–policies that they say they’re diametrically opposed to in order to attain their goal. In that light, I’d have to say that the right is more honest than the left and has a better chance of “winning” this “battle; when one chooses to resort to the strategy and tactics of one’s rhetorical enemies, one has already lost the contest.

    My only hope is that we not allow them to take us down with them.

  • http://twitter.com/kerryreid Kerry Reid

    It’s so sweet that these rich white boys can find common ground with George Will in deciding that women’s rights to health and bodily integrity aren’t important issues.

    • villemar

      Well someone has to be cannon fodder for our Magical Glorious Revolution. If women, African Americans, students, working poor, Hispanic/Latinos ect. are stupid enough to vote for Obama who is obviously elevendy kajillion times worse than Bush, Hitler, Vlad the Impaler, Caligula and Cthulhu combined, then they deserve to suffer and/or die. Fuck ‘em. I’m safely ensconced in my Ivory Tower where I can bask all day in the loving online glow of Glenn Greenwald, Jane Hamsher, David Sirota, Alex Jones and Gary Johnson.

      • http://twitter.com/kerryreid Kerry Reid

        You can rest assured that if a real revolution did come to pass, these idiots would be crapping their pants in fear, and whining about not having access to the perquisites their status as good honest bold bloviators of LeftieLand should bring to them.

  • http://www.politicalruminations.com/ nicole

    The thing I can’t get around is the seeming lack of concern by so-called “progressives” for those who will suffer the most if Romney were to win this election. I know that these people are purely dilettantes and charlatans who are far more concerned with the validation of their own [often fucked up ideas] than they are with the people of this country..

    In my view, those progressives who either vote third party, or sit out the vote in this particular election, are nothing less than traitors to their country, and to the citizens of that country. They should know that if we swear in a President Romney in January, we will never forgive them for that alone.

  • http://www.politicalruminations.com/ nicole

    Brilliant. Thank you, Bob.

    • MrDHalen

      This might be the best article I’ve ever read from Bob. Simply Brilliant is correct!!!

      • Michael Schwartz

        It is a close second. The one last week about the Supreme Court and Women was the best.

  • caribbeanobserver

    God, I am so pooped out and done with ‘these types’. Right about now, if they feel this is what they need to do..then flippin’ well go vote for whomever.Damn, the problem is that these people get too much attention.!

  • SlapFat

    People that vote third-party this election are the same people that think running up an escalator moving downwards is avaunt-guard.

  • http://twitter.com/upukcab Addison Jones

    Some people want revolution, in today’s world thats impractical. The power to get people to vote against their interests is the single reason why the right continues to win. A simple long term coherent message is required, while continuing to persuade people of the need to have empathy and solidarity rather than fighting over the crumbs dropped from the top table.

  • js hooper

    None of the people you site in this column are progressives…I wish people on the left would stop including libertarian paultard firebaggers as liberals or “progressives”…You make the term progressive meaningless when you allow libertarian teabaggers to be a voice of the left.

    These people have one mission. Undermine the democratic party at all costs.Anybody who openly admits that they want republicans to win elections…should no longer be thought of as “progressive”

    • incredulous72


  • GrafZeppelin127

    I noted this bit in the article:

    Liberals who vote against Obama are not unlike conservatives who cite Ayn Rand’s political acumen. Self-righteous and unserious … a protest without a realistic course of action. It’s a flailing, selfish act of high-minded personal absolution without any actual comprehension of the wide-reaching damage it risks.

    That’s a good point. “EmoProgs” do remind me of the weeping martyrs who call themselves “libertarians,” Ayn Rand or Ron Paul acolytes, nailing themselves to rhetorical crosses over on HuffPo comment threads because they’re being “forced,” often “at gunpoint” to live their lives, against their will, under the unconscionable and brutally oppressive tyranny of American law. Leave aside that most of them did not at all mind having laws in this country between 2001 and 2008, between 1981 and 1992, between 1969 and 1976, etc. They want to blow up the entire system because they feel personally inconvenienced by it, and justify that desire by convincing themselves that the system itself is completely arbitrary, created arbitrarily, developed arbitrarily and directed against them arbitrarily, and that everyone in it is inherently, irredeemably and irreparably “corrupt.”

    What EmoProgs and libertarians share is the idea that this is all about me; my “freedom” (meaning, my personal autonomy), my conscience, my “rights,” including the absolute right to care about and/or contribute to the well-being of no one and nothing other than myself and that which I personally, consciously, deliberately choose to care about and/or contribute to. They both manage to make selfishness into a virtue, albeit in different ways and for different reasons, coming back to this paranoid, absolutist fantasy about a wholly arbitrary governmental/power structure that can only be redeemed by ceasing to exist altogether.

    I can’t believe that there are still EmoProgs out there, in the wake of the most heinous, ugly, cynical, destructive, deplorable four-year political strategy in modern U.S. history, who are willing to vindicate and reward that strategy and make it a permanent part of our political process. The idea of rewarding everything the GOP, Fox News, the right-wing media and blogosphere, Frank Luntz, Andrew Breitbart, Donald Trump, Ted Nugent, and all the rest have been doing for the past four years is so repulsive to me I can’t bear to think about November 7. I feel like a little kid getting on a roller coaster for the first time, as the car is being cranked up the first incline, heading for the apex, closing my eyes and just praying for it to be over.

    • stacib23

      I feel like a little kid getting on a roller coaster for the first time, as the car is being cranked up the first incline, heading for the apex, closing my eyes and just praying for it to be over.


    • http://www.politicalruminations.com/ nicole


    • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

      “What EmoProgs and libertarians share is the idea that this is all about me…”

      What’s more, they never, ever acknowledge or understand where they are dependent on the system that they want to destroy. Hamsher wants to vote third party ensuring a Romney win. She never acknowledges that this will lead to her having plenty more to bitch about and therefore an increase in traffic to her site. But it’s not just the positive ways they’ll benefit. There are negatives too. Hamsher, to my understanding, has some health problems and insurance issues that the ACA should be able to help her with…but she wants to ensure someone is elected who wants to do away with it. Or an even better example, my boss and co-workers…our bread and butter is an application that helps states manage Federal funds for the poor (can’t be too specific here). Romney and Ryan’s proposed cuts would decimate this funding. But they’re all for Vulture/Granny Starver. Or my ex, a libertarian who is too lazy to work a real job and goes off and on Unemployment insurance and relies on a ton of other government services. But Revolution! They are so blinded by their anger, they can’t even see that they’d hurt themselves too. I don’t know if it’s true of all Emo-Progs and/or Libertarians but I suspect it has something to do with a psychological mindset that sees themselves as having gotten the sh*tty end of the stick in life. And by God they’re going to correct the unfairness, no matter what. May God/FSM/Goddess protect us from the stunted minds of these imaginary victims.

    • muselet

      Slightly off-topic (as usual), but your line about libertarians “nailing themselves to rhetorical crosses” reminded me of an old Paul Conrad cartoon.


  • Scopedog

    They’re fools. There is no other word that fits. I cannot believe that they have seemingly ignored the eight years of GWB’s reign.

    Stoller has made ridiculous claims in the past, plus he basically licked Ron Paul’s backside during the GOP primaries. Screw him.

    Over at Tbogg’s site, one gets nauseous at the _excuses_ these jerkoffs are making. History is tossed down the memory hole in favor of droning on about drones, Bradley Manning, and not getting ponies that fart rainbows.

  • GOVCHRIS1988

    Lets cut the shit, these people are either morons, ratfuckers, or both. I’m sorry, but we have all learned from the Bush years that electing a Republican to the Presidency or voting for some third party loon who knows they will never win ever produces this “progressive utopia” that these so called liberals say it will.

    I mean, as Graf said, these people always have the same goals, either to elect Republicans or to destroy Democratic legislation. We saw it in 2010, when Grover Norquist and Jane Hamsher joined forces to try and destroy the ACA, knowing full well that when liberals and conservatives are seen in public joining together to destroy something, it automatically gets deemed terrible by the broader public. This is exactly why the ACA is still trying to pull popularity.

    Seriously though Bob, don’t you think that this push for third party voting is full of self interest for these people as well. Remember, many of these same bloggers came about during the Bush administration. They were the go to people for comity during what seemed like a period of naivety and disbelief of the actions taken by Bush/Cheney. Their insipid disdain for the man held the community of hard left and moderate left together for many years. These folks saw their site visits skyrocket over the entrance into Iraq, Afghanistan,Blackwater, Scott McClellan, Katrina and the Alito/Roberts confirmation hearings. You know that during the four years of the competent Obama administration, that those site visits have gone down and indirectly electing those two drips on the Rolls Royce ticket would bolster those up with an overabundance of feckless and vacillating incompetence, enough to fill hours of bandwidth and appearances on news shows , radio and Sunday political talk. They aren’t getting those now and they want that back.

    They don’t want competence and calm measured leadership in the White House or any other office for that matter, they want utter chaos because it gives them a concrete purpose in political affairs. Barack Obama is impeding on their moment of grift and they need him gone to capitalize on the windfall to come with a potential Romney/Ryan administration. They can’t produce the same furor against Barack Obama that they did with George W. Bush because many of the left see Barack Obama as the progressive vehicle which can move this country in that direction. This is why Matt Stoller and the like fight like hell to get folks to believe he isn’t a progressive vehicle, that THEY are the real progressive vehicles and you must follow them to get to “real” progressiveness.

    Alan Grayson followed this guy to “real” progressivism, which is why he’s former Congressman Alan Grayson. I don’ t think Stoller is on his payroll right now, which is why he is trying for Nader redux.

    • rob black

      I going with “ratfuckers” because nobody who has had the most casual acquaintance with republican governance in this country over the last 30 years, and would claim to recognize all the harm it has done, could possibly be that stupid.
      …..or just lived through the 2000 election for that matter.
      Yep….straight up.Segretti-esque…

      • villemar

        Yup I like how the same people who told us there was no difference between Bush and Gore 12 years ago are telling us how there’s no difference between Obama & Romney. (After 2000 I would forever refrer to him as”Ratfuck Ralph.”)

        Like their Republican counterparts they have no memory of recent history. Nothing happened in 2000, or if it did it was Gore’s fault; just like it will be Obama’s fault if they push him within the margin of theft. Because Drones NDAA Baby Jesus Manning Weed isn’t illegal and I didn’t get my Sparklepony, nor did I get my Progressitopia that I hallucinated that Bagger Vance promised me in 2008.

  • i_am_allwrite

    Conservatism doesn’t work for the same reason socialism doesn’t: both ignore human nature. One imagines a world where we all willfully take care of each other and prosper by getting government out of the way, ignoring the fact that the characteristics required to prosper are the polar opposite of those which make people charitable. The other goes the other direction, creating a system where politicians need to promise to give away the store in order to get elected (PJ O’Rourke did a story in Rolling Stone years ago about Sweden that included a story about a heart surgeon who was able to take two weeks off with pay to paint his house. While PJ’s politics are usually wrong, he rightly pointed out that a system that pays a heart surgeon to paint his house makes about as much sense as hiring a house painter to do heart surgery.)
    But to quote Walter Sobchack (talking about another type of socialism): “at least it (socialism or conservatism) is an ethos.”
    Perhaps appropriately, Walter was comparing National Socialism–the nazi party–favorably to nihilism. And make no mistake, assholes like Cusack, Stoller, and especially Greenwald are advocating nihilism without the balls or, more likely, self-awareness, to say or realize it. They’re like freshman at a $50K a year private college who think the 60s were awesome because the hippies ruled, as if 50,000 soldiers weren’t killed in Asia, as if black men still weren’t being lynched in the south, as if black children weren’t being spat upon and threatened with violence for having the audacity to show up to newly desegregated schools. As if the hippie culture and the liberal movement it spawned was something people spontaneously chose to do because they wanted to, as opposed to having been driven to it by an ultra-conservative, utterly corrupt system that favored rich white men, to the exclusion of everyone else.
    Is that the essence of this idiotic argument to vote against Obama? Let’s vote for Mitt so we can go back to the 50s so we can relive the 60s? Awesome, Jackasses. See you at Kent State. I’ll save a seat for you. And don’t forget to register for the draft.
    And hey, adding “whites only” bathrooms to restaurants and office buildings is a sure-fire job creator.
    What dicks!

    • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

      /holding up lighter, swaying to and fro

      • i_am_allwrite

        You made my day with that.
        Good grrrl.

        • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

          You are certainly welcome.

    • http://twitter.com/GoodDoc01 Good Doc

      Nihilism – it’s whats for dinner!

  • JoyP

    Quite frankly, the opinions of Cusack, Stoller and Friesdorf don’t make any difference to me. I rarely read Stoller or Friesdorf and have infrequently paid attention to Cusack. I suspect I am not alone.

    • http://phydeauxpseaks.blogspot.com Bob Rutledge

      You’re not alone, but — if my Facebook feed can be accurately used as a sampling — there may be enough who do pay attention to C,S&F to fuck the country over.

  • trgahan

    Their arguments are while theoretically principled, are ridiculously devoid of reality. They seem to have entirely forgotten about the actions of federal government from 2000-2008. They seem to ignore that since 2010 the far right has successfully convinced half of America that the 2008 meltdown was caused by minorities, unions, gays, PBS, and single mothers.

    The only way I can see it is A) they are wolfs in progressive clothing working to demotivate the democratic vote OR B) their financial and social position is so secure that they can handle (hell, probably even prosper) under a far right administration.

    • http://twitter.com/SugaRazor Razor

      It’s B… a bunch of comfortable white men who will remain unaffected and have the luxury of leaving if things get really bad… which they will under a Romney presidency.

      • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

        Revolutionaries with so little to lose are obviously not true revolutionaries. I’ve had a few convos with those on the far right that spout off about how we need a disaster to spur revolution (same BS nihilism). Of course, they’re not wealthy and it’s almost too easy to point out how they and their loved ones would suffer under such scenarios. It doesn’t change their mind, it just makes them think about how they can plan for the bad things I told them would probably happen. Like stocking away more canned food, seeds, etc. From their perspective, there will be blood, but they don’t yet understand how that blood will be their own. This is doubly true for these HEP* Revolutionaries.

        *Hollywood and Elite Progressives, Trademark ;)

    • http://phydeauxpseaks.blogspot.com Bob Rutledge

      or C) they are dumb as a box of rocks, and unable to see the forest for the trees.

  • GrafZeppelin127

    Far-right conservatives and far-left liberals have one thing in common: They both believe that the best way to achieve the policy outcomes they want is to elect Republicans.