As the election draws near, the media is about to go on an all-in mission to tell us all how bad Obama has been. They’re going to try and tell you that there’s no difference between Romney and Obama. On some policy matters, they are probably right. But there is still a world of difference between Obama and Romney, and more importantly, between the Democrats and Rethugs. Gary Wills hits one out of the freakin park illustrating why the system-is-broken, and both-sides-do-it mentality that causes so much voter apathy is not only wrong, but dangerous:
To vote for a Republican means, now, to vote for a plutocracy that depends for its support on anti-government forces like the tea party, Southern racists, religious fanatics, and war investors in the military-industrial complex. It does no good to say that “Romney is a good man, not a racist.” That may be true, but he needs a racist South as part of his essential support. And the price they will demand of him comes down to things like Supreme Court appointments. (The Republicans have been more realistic than the Democrats in seeing that presidential elections are really for control of the courts.)
The independents, too ignorant or inexperienced to recognize these basic facts, are the people most susceptible to lying flattery. They are called the good folk too inner-directed to follow a party line or run with the herd. They are like the idealistic imperialists “with clean hands” in Graham Greene’s The Quiet American—they should wear leper bells to warn people of their vicinity.
The etherialists who are too good to stoop toward the “lesser evil” of politics—as if there were ever anything better than the lesser evil there—naively assume that if they just bring down the current system, or one part of it that has disappointed them, they can build a new and better thing of beauty out of the ruins. Of course they never get the tabula rasa on which to draw their ideal schemes. What they normally do is damage the party closest to their professed ideals. Third parties are run by people who make the best the enemy of their own good and bring down that good. Theodore Roosevelt’s’ Bull Moose variant of his own Republican Party drained enough Republican votes to let the Democrat, Woodrow Wilson, win. (His voters, believing he would not “send our boys to war,” saw the prince become a frog in World War I.) George H. W. Bush rightly believes he was sabotaged by the crypto-Republican Ross Perot, who helped Bill Clinton win. Ralph Nader siphoned crucial votes from Al Gore to give us George W. Bush.
All these brave “independents” say that there is not a dime’s worth of difference between the two parties, and claim they can start history over, with candidates suddenly become as good as they are themselves. What they do is give us the worst of evils. If Professor Unger gets his way, and destroys President Obama, he will give us a Romney deeply in political debt to the party he slimily wooed all through the primaries. He will be in a position to turn the Supreme Court from a mainly reactionary body to an almost entirely reactionary one.
Those who think there is no difference between the parties should look at the state that no longer elects any Democrats, the Texas described so well by Gail Collins, with its schools attacking evolution, its religious leaders denying there was ever any separation of church and state, and its cowboy code of justice. If people like Professor Unger, people too highly principled for us folks who muck around in the real world, get their way, they will not give us a prince turned into a frog, but America turned into Texas.
Indeed, these attacks on women’s rights, unions, equality for homosexuals, public workers, assistance programs for the poor etc., none of this stuff is new. Talk to a Democrat above the age of 50 and they will tell you that the crazyness we are currently seeing with bills to mandate transvaginal probes, defund NPR, raid pensions of public workers etc., are just the most recent (and most successful) attempts to achieve goals that Republicans have been pushing for 50 years. Attempts to further stack the Courts with activist judges, have been a long-term goal of the GOP for decades.
Think about it. We are likely about to have the Supreme Court toss out the biggest, most progressive legislation (Healthcare reform) passed in a century, on a flimsy judicial theory that nobody took seriously even as recently as 2009. This is a direct result of the Court being staffed with the kind of right-wing idealogues who think that corporations are people. Is there any doubt that we would not be facing this prospect if Gore had been president and Roberts, Alito and Thomas had never reached the bench? –Uncle Eb/John