Saturday, February 18, 2012

Left Side of the Aisle #44 - Part 5

Hypocrisy of Obama supporters

Finally, another sort of hypocrisy, this one of valuing political expediency and party loyalty over human rights and basic decency. And while that sounds like an all-but-routine denunciation of the right wing, in this case it's not.

During the Bush years, liberal democrats and supposedly progressive activists screamed (and legitimately so) about how George Bush - Shrub - was undermining American values and shredding the Constitution. Barack Obama - President Hopey-Changey - campaigned on how just awful all that was and how he was going to change all that. That was not just a single plank in his platform, it was central to his campaign.

But once in office he went back on almost everything he said. His administration not only endorsed the Bush regime's arguments on how national security trumps all, it went beyond it, refusing to prosecute Bush administration crimes up to and including open admissions of approving torture from Bush and "The Big" Dick Cheney themselves, expanding executive power, broadening claims justifying official secrecy, pushing for renewal of expiring Traitor Act provisions, intensifying the technically secret drone war in Pakistan, expanding the ability of government to spy on our communications, allowing the FBI additional powers to poke, prod, pry, and probe into our privacy, waging an unprecedented war on whistleblowers, seeking to destroy WikiLeaks, and allowing the torture of Bradley Manning.

Sometimes the extensions of individual, even monarchical, powers are even more shocking:

In the case of Libya, Obama not only ignored the War Powers Act, he deliberately thumbed his nose at the very idea of Congress having any say at all on if, when, where, or even why American military forces would be employed. He essentially said "It's my Air Force and I'll do whatever I want with it."

He has endorsed the power of presidents to imprison anyone, even American citizens taken on American soil, indefinitely without charge, trial, or any legal rights whatsoever based solely on that president's own unchallengeable claim that the person - the disappeared person - was in some way connected to "terrorism." But don't worry, Howard Dean is safe.

And he declared for himself the power to order the extra-judicial murder of anyone, even American citizens, anywhere in the world, on the basis of that same sort of unchallengeable claim - while refusing to reveal whatever legal argument has been invented by his administration to claim that power. But again, Rudy Guiliani need have no fears.

And how has all that been treated by far too much of what passes for the left in this country? Beyond a few quiet grumbles about how there might be some legitimate criticism on the matter, it has mostly been silence. A silence most recently demonstrated and punctuated by a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

According to that poll, fully 77% of self-identified liberal Democrats endorse the use of drones in Pakistan and elsewhere - that is, they endorse the secret and illegal CIA war. What's more, 55% still approve of them even when the targets are identified as American citizens.

And what about that symbol of Bush-era undermining of human and constitutional rights, Guantanamo Bay prison? Iin February, 2009, shortly after Obama was inaugurated and a time when he was still talking about closing the prison, a Pew Research poll showed that 64% of Democrats supported closing it down; I think we can safely assume the portion of liberal dems who felt that way was even higher. But in the new Washington Post-ABC News poll, 53% of liberal Democrats now approve of his decision to keep it open.

This is more evidence, if it was even needed, of hypocrisy on a grand scale, a scale that envelops an entire political party and even more importantly, envelops far too many of the very people who denounced the immorality and illegality of the Shrub years but now find that the chant of "elect more Democrats" silences the whisper of conscience.

The evidence says that for a large segment of self-proclaimed liberals and progressives, the old right-wing charge that their opposition to George Bush was based on political expediency rather than actual commitment rings true and I say that these people, these hypocrites, these trimmers whose morality depends on whether the president has a D or an R after the name do not deserve to be listened to, do not deserve even to be believed when, quoting Glenn Greenwald,
they want to pretend to oppose civilian slaughter and civil liberties assaults when perpetrated by the next Republican President.
Greenwald also notes that 35% of liberal democrats say they oppose Obama's destructive and dangerous policies of the sort I've run through here. But while that is, as he says, "a non-trivial amount," it still marks us - those of us for who opposition to illegal wars and extra-judicial murder is a matter of conviction, not convenience - it marks us as a minority of all liberals who are a minority of the country as a whole. We are a minority of a minority.

And yet we must struggle on. We have to keep on trying. There is a reason my blog is subtitled "Surviving a Dark Time." Far too many believed - and have convinced themselves - that the darkness lifted in January 2009. They were wrong.


No comments:

// I Support The Occupy Movement : banner and script by @jeffcouturer / (v1.2) document.write('
I support the OCCUPY movement
');function occupySwap(whichState){if(whichState==1){document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}else{document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}} document.write('');