By Leonard Ramirez
I am not an enthusiastic supporter of Barak Obama. He has reneged on his promise to promote comprehensive immigration reform. Even worse his administration has stepped up efforts to deport undocumented workers that have led to more divided families and more human misery. His Chicago surrogate, Rahm Emanuel, has continued the lackluster Arnie Duncan’s push to increase the number of charter schools that are more a business opportunity for connected political associates and a strategy to break the back of the Chicago Teacher’s Union than a quality educational option for city kids.
Under Obama, human rights have continued on the downward spiral begun by Bush. With right wing support, the Obama government has assassinated people in other countries, including at least one US citizen. Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which expands the power and scope of government. NDAA allows for the indefinite detention of terrorist suspects including US citizens. It undermines the human rights guarantees in the Constitution including the Sixth Amendment. While Obama has promised not to use this prerogative, he leaves the door open for others who will follow. His signing of the NDAA truly represents a shameful deterioration of democracy. Obama’s latest cha-cha with the corporate oligarchy reduces a few of the wealthy’s tax loopholes but grants them additional tax cuts.
And yes there is a but . . . the Republican Party. The Republicans are all that is evil in social policy today. They would make good on their willingness to build a bigger wall, heartlessly tear even more families apart despite Gingrich’s occasional bow to compassion. They would increase the size of an already bloated military budget and move quickly to enter more wars at the cost of thousands more dead and billions more squandered. The military drain on the federal budget would continue to come at the expense of Social Security, Medicare, and programs that assist the poor and the unemployed. They would shred the public safety net while transferring more wealth to the 1 percent. Quality education would increasingly become more of a moneymaking industry leaving those with fewer resources to scramble. The Republican response to health care needs would echo that of the Ron Paul mob who jubilantly offered “death” as the option for the uninsured. The interests of oil corporations would trump ecological concerns. Santorum and Gingrich would hold high the banners of a chillingly religious government restricting access to contraceptives and mandating invasive health procedures for women. They would destroy the wall between church and state and institute a ruthless government founded on their vision of God, individualism, and greed for the few. Instead of being served by the government, in Romney, the rich would be at the helm of the government.
Is voting for Obama a defensive strategy? Yes. It is important that we deflect the most chilling alternatives of the financial elite. There is no doubt that Latinos, women and the middle and working classes have much to lose with a Republican win. Is this the same old lesser of two evils strategy? Not quite. It is an offensive not a passive stance. It does not merely ask that we capitulate to the least poisonous, the least harmful of the candidates, and become apathetic and withdraw. It asks that we choose our adversary wisely. Then we may target him as we push aggressively for a social justice agenda that truly serves the vast majority, the 99 percent.