SYNDICATED COLUMN: How To Talk To An Obama Voter (If You Must)

In 2012 Politics Is In The Streets—Not the Voting Booth

The Occupy movement is lying low. The Tea Party has been completely absorbed into the Republican Party—just another interest group. The only politics anyone talks about is the presidential horserace.

Don’t be fooled. This is temporary.

Spring will come. Robins will sing. The Occupations will return, bigger, energized and more militant. Don’t be surprised if movements more militant, further to the Left than Occupy, begin to emerge.

What passes for politics—Democrats, Republicans, vacuous debates over mini-issues (flag burning, taxes, deficits, gays) as the big issues go ignored (jobs, income inequality, militarism)—will be finally, totally and irreversibly exposed as the irrelevant, distracting farce they are.

Politics is about to move into the streets. Where they belong. Where they live in countries whose citizens are engaged in the fight over their destinies.

There will be primaries and party conventions and debates. All part of a ridiculous sideshow.

Get ready. 2012 is set to become our year of revolution.

No more will we outsource our lives to 435 oily white men in Washington and 50 random idiots in the state capitals. We will demand what is ours: freedom, dignity, equality, justice, fairness, decency. We will vote with the signs we hold. We will debate our neighbors in parks, cafes and bars. Our elections will be held in clouds of pepper spray, amid swinging batons and flying rocks.

It’s on.

Can you feel it?

Not everyone can. Maybe their instincts have been dulled. That’s OK. People are different.

People who don’t understand that everything has changed are gearing up for a presidential election. Obama versus Probably Romney. Should they vote? If so, for whom? Should they canvass/work the phones/donate to the corporate candidate of “their” choice?

We who feel it need those who don’t feel it at our sides. We who are ready to emancipate humankind, we who are challenging the monstrous hegemony of a corporate state with bottomless pockets and an endless capacity for violence can’t afford to have millions of intelligent, otherwise like-minded allies distracted, sucked into the vortex of electoral BS. We need everyone—including the Obamabots.

They’ve been programmed with talking points. Here’s how you counter them.

Obamabot Talking Point: If I don’t vote for Obama, the Even Worse Republicans win.

Answer: So vote for Obama. Or don’t vote. It makes no difference either way. Voting is like praying to God. It doesn’t hurt. Nor does it do any good. As with religion, the harm comes from the self-delusion of thinking you’re actually doing something. You’re not. Wanna save the world? Or just yourself? That, you’ll have to do outside, in the street.

In a second term, a reelected Obama who doesn’t have to worry about running again will be free to do cool liberal stuff.

Lame duck, anyone? Second-termers are weak. Look at previous presidents’ second terms: Bush 2005-2009, Clinton 1997-2001, Reagan 1985-1989, Nixon 1973-1974. Not much got done. Lots of scandals. Second-termers do worry about the next election; they want a successor from their party (typically their veep). Anyway, there is no evidence—none—that Obama ever wanted to do cool liberal stuff. He never promised any. Dude was a conservative Democrat all along. In a second term he’ll be a weak conservative Democrat so preoccupied trying to hand off the baton to Biden that he won’t float anything risky.

Lesser-evilism, yo. Gotta do whatever it takes so that Romney/Gingrich/Ron Paul doesn’t get in. Gimme those Obama totebags!

In the short run, this is a valid argument. If we were only considering this one election, it would make sense to get Obama in again. Anything to keep those crazy Republicans out.

Over the long term, however, lesser-evilism falls apart.

When the argument for every Democrat is that he’s not a Republican, when every Democrat who wins proves a disappointing imitation of the Republicans his supporters were supposedly voting against, when the net result is a string of alternating Democrats and Republicans who basically do the same thing, especially on the major issues, this election isn’t some special “let’s hold our nose this one time” but merely part of a rancid continuum that we should be opposing with all of our strength and energy—something we can’t do if we’re out pounding the pavement on behalf of a man who is oppressing us just as surely as his so-called “enemies.”

(Ted Rall is the author of “The Anti-American Manifesto.” His website is



  • Nah. Ain’t gonna happen. How can anyone take a seasonal movement seriously? “Revolution now!! Oh, wait, it’s a little chilly out. Better hold off on revolt until the nice weather returns. Just wait until the flowers begin to bloom!!! THEN we’ll show you!” Yeah, right. Whatever.

    Here’s what Home Depot co-founder Bernard Marcus said about OWS protesters: “Who gives a crap about some imbecile?” Marcus said. “Are you kidding me?”

    Well said Bernard, well said. Yes, that’s right folks – the air is so thick with change that the Home Depot CEO asked if the questioner was kidding? He sounds scared. Really, really scared.

    I live in one of the most liberal cities in the world and I can tell you the air is thick with ….. shopping, cafe lattes, iPods, people sitting in the park chillin’, walking their dogs, enjoying the weather. And on and on. If that’s what’s happening here, what’s happening in Tulsa, OK?

    Revolution? No. Sorry, but not even close. I know how bad you want it Ted but that doesn’t make it so. There’s a handful of people that want to see the fat-cats get theirs, but it’s not going to happen. No, at best we’ll have more non-violent hippies getting pepper-sprayed and billy-clubbed. They’ll talk about their peaceful protests, and the Bernard Marcuses of the world will continue to say: “Who gives a crap about some imbecile? Are you kidding me?”

    Also, your points #1 and #3 are exactly the same. Not sure how you missed that, but that gives you two talking points against Obamabots. You’ll need more. They’re as indestructible as RedStaters.

  • @ex

    I sympathize with your desire for radical change, but we are not at a stage of desperation far enough to take to the streets at a massive level during foul weather, let alone take up arms. We aren’t even at the level of Great Depression, because of the social programs we have that didn’t exist back then. You would think that the poorest of the people would take to the streets first, but the thought of losing Food Stamps, SSI, or Social Security would make them think twice about subjecting themselves to random, arbitrary arrests by police officers.

    Somehing for you to think about.

  • It’s not something for me to think about, it’s something for Ted to think about.

  • Also, my desire for radical change is so far off the rails that I know it will never happen. Ever. Under any circumstances. The real issue, as I’ve noted before, is that Occupy doesn’t want radical change. In fact, they don’t want change. They want to be helped into the system, to become more ingrained participants in it, to benefit from it more than they are now. I have no interest in that, and if such people really wanted the freedom to control their own fate (as much as one can), then they’d want no part of this system. They’d want to (correctly) tear it down. They don’t, and that’s the core of the problem. Not the weather.

  • alex_the_tired
    December 27, 2011 5:21 PM


    It’s interesting that you mention the weather. In the History of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides mentions that the war was fought in two seasons each year, and that the fighting would stop when the crops had to be harvested. With all the tech, we still end up at the whim of nature.

    The book’s an interesting revisit to the present day. Athens was at the height of its power when the war started. The war took 20 years. Athens fell to Sparta. Democracies do not do well in long, drawn-out wars. We’ve had Iraq. We’ve still got Afghanistan. What do we invade next? The Baja peninsula for its vital sand supplies? Maybe Norway for the master tapes from A-ha?

    I suspect that 2012 will be the tipping point, one way or the other. We’ve got a presidential election coming. We have rampant unemployment. We are approaching a fiscal crisis that can no longer be hidden by creative accounting. We have Generation i (that’s a lowercase letter i, as in iPod, iPhone, ietc.) suddenly realizing that, oh yes indeed, they’ve been left to carry the can. And I think the trigger moment will be one of two things:

    1. Macro: Another war is declared.
    2. Micro: Remember Kent State? At OWS 2.0, I am convinced one of the copstapo will shoot one of the unarmed protesters — probably in the back — and then present his story about how he was attacked. And then the iPhone footage will come out. It will show an execution, plain and simple. And I think that is the moment Generation i will finally connect all the iDots.

    My generation might just limp over the finish line and into the grave without massive indignities being visited upon us, but the 20somethings right now, they’re screwed. Pure and simple. Ted knows what I mean. I think he wrote a column about how badly the Reagan-era 20somethings got shafted.

  • Ted, the economy will likely magically improve right before the election. People will quietly go about their lives as some people start to get jobs, people will just hope for the best, because people are generally optimistic in nature. Its an easy trait to take advantage of.

  • That would be FIVE-hundred thirty five “oily white men in Washington.”

    The prospect of a second-term Obama making possible a 2016 Biden candidacy is a truly horrifying thought.

    IF our appeaser-in-chief of domestic, overt fascism does get his second term he’ll likely be in his pathologically “bipartisan” glory with both houses of congress in control the GOP.

    Of course, even if the “Dems” manage to hold onto the senate their “Villain Rotation” game ( will effectively keep Mitch (turtleman) McConnell in virtually complete control of the country. (Latest “Villain Rotation” has “extreme liberal” Wyden reviving, validating and co-sponsoring a version of the Medicare destruction plan of the execrable Paul Ryan.

  • Gotta do whatever it takes so that […] Ron Paul doesn’t get in.

    If, against all foreseeable odds and party forces, Dr. Paul does get the Republican nomination, y’all can rest assured that core, war-loving Republicans (neocons, flag-wavers, law-enforcement fanboys and religious righters) will either fly out to Obama’s flock or sit out the election. In that regard, Obamabots are a lot more faith-oriented than Red Staters.

  • alex_the_tired
    December 28, 2011 2:10 PM

    Interesting point, Bucephalus, about the Republicans sitting out the election if Paul gets the nomination, but I think the effect will be magnified in the Democrats and Independents.

    I get the sense that the Obama supporters fall into two large groups: those who will vote for him as the lesser-of-two evils and the Obama supporters who will NOT be voting for him (a la the Republicans repulsed by Paul) out of disgust. Perhaps there’s a third group — the people who will vote for Obama because they genuinely think he’s doing a good job. How they can form that conclusion is beyond me, but I’ll allow it as a theoretical group.

    I’m thinking that the Republicans, regardless of who they nominate, will have far less of a die-off of voter turnout than Obama will have. I could be wrong, but we’ll find out in about a twelvemonth.

  • @alex: Right now, the majority of voters SAY they are ABO. ‘Will you vote for Obama or a generic Republican?’ ”Definitely the Republican. No question. ABO’

    But when pressed, a significant fraction of that majority are AABO: ‘Will you vote for Obama or for Paul/Bachmann/Romney/etc.?’ The AABO will stay home, and, of those who are still going to vote, a slender majority are leaning toward Obama against Romney, and a large majority against any of the other Republican candidates. The odds are about 60% that Obama will be re-elected, but the odds are better than 75% that he’ll face a solidly Republican House and Senate.

    But not a veto-proof House and Senate. The House might impeach, but the Senate would never convict.

    So it will be like a re-run of Clinton, only without the semi-decent economy.

    So my hope is that Mr. Rall is right, but my expectation is that exkiodexian is correct.

  • Ted won’t talk to me because I won’t pay him enough money…..

  • Wow, Ted is even starting to title his columns like Ann Coulter.

    Look, despite all the fancy stuff Ted wrote, what it comes down to is that the only rational solution is for liberals and Democrats to reelect Obama. The “Obamabots” are correct, there is no other way, period.

  • Albert,

    I get the reasoning you’re making. And you’re right, up to a point. Ted’s cartoon about education and pepper spray (currently at the home page) is relevant for this as well.

    My entire experience as a politically aware person consists of the same basic refrain coming from the progressives/lefties/hippies: We have to vote for the lesser of two evils. It goes back to at least George H.W. Bush’s era. The dialogue goes like this:

    The Right: We want X.
    The Left: How about Y, a compromise?
    The Right: No. Why do you hate America? We want X, which will benefit a small group of Americans.
    The Left: Okay. This time, we’ll give you X.

    It’s exactly like the battered wife who keeps taking back her abusive husband or boyfriend. And I’ve gotten tired of supporting the battered wife. The leftists vote for the lesser of two evils. That candidate turns out to be a big disappointment. Remarkably, the disappointment is always generated from issues that were easy-peasy simple ones: Clinton could have repealed DADT. Truman integrated the troops, Clinton could have repealed DADT, as the commander in chief, and simply said, “Look, I’m the commander in chief. This is the end of the issue. Move on to the next item.”

    And here’s where the voter, with sunglasses on to hide the bruises, starts to explain how I’ve got it wrong. “We didn’t elect a king. He has to work within the process.” Right. Like Dubya did? Like the Republicans have by telling people to “Get a job” after the Republicans and their Democrat stooges have outsourced everything that isn’t nailed down and kept wages stagnant while costs have kept rising? If the “process” worked, there would be tumbleweeds going through Wall Street because all the bankers would be in orange jumpsuits and handcuffs in a jail cell waiting for their trials. Stop telling me he loves you, sweetheart, while you try to trowel on enough foundation to hide that black eye.

    Voting for the lesser of two evils is a cycle that never ends. Not voting for Obama, who will end up giving the Republicans pretty much everything they want, anyway, will not fix the broken system. Only fixing the broken system will fix the broken system. And while it keeps limping along, people are able to kid themselves that it’s still working fine.

  • Or approach the problem from the other end — elect the worst possible alternative. Wait to see what happens.

    Electing the “better of two evils” just delays the inevitable.

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