No, Mr. Ellsberg, The Answer is Not Obama

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MEDIA ROOTS – Daniel Ellsberg is now advising voters in swing states to vote for President Obama in next month’s election. The unquestionable patriot that leaked the Pentagon Papers is thus often credited with initiating the end of the war in Vietnam. Mr. Ellsberg has since helped organize several major antiwar demonstrations thus it seems peculiar for him to support an administration directly responsible for hundreds of drone assassinations, the continued operation of unlawful military detention centers, pardoning known torturers, and prosecuting whistleblowers such as Bradley Manning.

“I don’t ‘support Obama.’” Ellsberg clarified in an opinion article last Thursday. “I oppose the current Republican Party.” Echoing the recent words of Professor Noam Chomsky, he adds, “if I were a person in a swing state, I’d vote against Romney/Ryan, which means voting for Obama because there’s no other choice.” While this may have been sound advice of yesteryear, today this is simply forfeiture to the modern political duopoly funded by nearly identical corporate entities.

Ellsberg then continues to preach that “the only way for progressives and Democrats to block Romney from office, at this date, is to persuade enough people in swing states to vote for Obama.” While also ironic, this statement is alienating to all progressives who do not consider themselves Democrat. For instance, the majority of those whom continue to support Dr. Ron Paul would likely consider themselves progressives for the congressman’s continued stance against undeclared wars and the unconstitutional Federal Reserve Bank. And as President Obama continues to escalate Bush-era policy, it is puzzling to understand how his administration could be considered progressive in the first place.

To further discourage third-party voters, Ellsberg specifically calls out those in swing states that might be considering a vote for anyone but Obama or Romney. He considers it absurd for anyone residing in these states to think that there’s no difference between the two primary candidates and that this line of thinking is “crazily divorced from present reality.” A third-party vote in a swing state, he contends, is “complicit in facilitating the election of Romney and Ryan.” Ellsberg neglects to recognize that third-party votes in these very battleground states would actually underscore America’s current appetite for new political leadership in this country.

Sometimes things must get worse before they can get better.

The Ellsberg article closes with a reference to one of America’s greatest resisters, Henry David Thoreau. While voting is itself an action, engagement in the electoral process – from private discussion to public outreach – is ultimately of more influence. So when Mr. Ellsberg could have used his influence to publicly support the third-party candidate that he’s voting for, he instead published an item that merely continues to feed into the establishment’s two-party system for continued war, continued unlawful detentions, and continued criminal conduct.

If Governor Romney does end up switching titles, perhaps then America will witness the antiwar movement awaken from its current slumber or, at least, an Occupy Wall Street renaissance. Possibly then those whom already see through the two-party charade could start to make an impression on yesterday’s thinkers while inspiring tomorrow’s leaders. But what is certain is that only when the two-party paradigm is shattered will America witness the dawn of a new political landscape.

Oskar Mosco for Media Roots.

Image by Flickr user jonathan mcintosh.

5 thoughts on “No, Mr. Ellsberg, The Answer is Not Obama

  1. Not sure you get this… Romney is a liar. A thief. He should reasele his tax returns, and he should stop trying to change the subject. He’s a disgrace. If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet. The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires. So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together. That’s how we funded the GI Bill. That’s how we created the middle class. That’s how we built the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hoover Dam. That’s how we invented the Internet. That’s how we sent a man to the moon. We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, and that’s the reason I’m running for president because I still believe in that idea. You’re not on your own, we’re in this together.

  2. I hear you and I’m a fan of this blog – however, I will admit I’m still stuck on the lesser of two evils problem – IN many ways there’s no difference between the two, but in many ways there still IS – I remember all too well what happened under Bush – you are right, though – under Romney it will get way worse before it gets better. Either way, people need to wake up!

  3. I wonder how Ellsberg is able to see a distinction in voting for Obama over Romney. They’re the same choice…

  4. “So when Mr. Ellsberg could have used his influence to publicly support the third-party candidate that he’s voting for, he instead published an item that merely continues to feed into the establishment’s two-party system for continued war, continued unlawful detentions, and continued criminal conduct.”

    Well said, Oskar.

    Ellsberg’s an interesting guy. In his documentary, The Most Dangerous Man in America, he recalls how as a passenger in a car accident caused by his father (who fell asleep at the wheel), in which he lost his mother and sister, he realized that even the people you love and respect can make mistakes.

    I consider his lapse in judgment here an aberration. It doesn’t diminish the good he’s done. Though his proposal is puzzling, isn’t it? One of the most passionate and courageous and principled defenders of Bradley Manning, actually asking people not to vote third party in swing states but instead for the guy who’s responsible for imprisoning and torturing Manning. It doesn’t make sense.

    He’s also one of the plaintiffs in the NDAA suit, along with Chris Hedges (who very much disagrees with Ellsberg–look up the Hedges interview on the Real News Network titled “Pick your poison”)

    How meaningful is the ritual of casting ballots for the presidential election? When have votes for a candidate had any influence on policy?

    Glenn Greenwald, in a piece called “The Impotence of the Loyal Partisan Voter”, provides another reason for withholding support from Obama:
    “if you were a Democratic Party official, wouldn’t you also ignore — and, when desirable, step on — the people who you know will support you no matter what you do to them? That’s what a rational, calculating, self-interested, unprincipled Democratic politician should do: accommodate those factions which need accommodating (because their support is in question), while ignoring or scorning the ones whose support is not in question, either because they will never vote for them (the hard-core right) or will dutifully canvass, raise money, and vote for them no matter what (the Democratic base). Anyone who pledges unconditional, absolute fealty to a politician — especially 18 months before an election — is guaranteeing their own irrelevance.
    “It was often said that Bush/Cheney used fear as their principal political weapon — and they did — but that’s true of the Democratic Party as well. When it comes to their base, Democratic leaders know they will command undying, unbreakable support no matter how many times they kick their base, because of the fear that has been instilled in the base — not fear of Terrorists or Immigrants (that’s the GOP’s tactic), but fear of Sarah Palin, the Kochs and the Tea Party.”

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