Why I Won’t Be Voting for Obama

Vote away your civil liberties

The discussion in the Rick Santorum comment thread has veered into whether Obama is worth voting for.

He’s not. Not one bit.

His civil liberties record is one of the worst in history. George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, writing in the Los Angels Times, wrote:

Civil libertarians have long had a dysfunctional relationship with the Democratic Party, which treats them as a captive voting bloc with nowhere else to turn in elections. Not even this history, however, prepared civil libertarians for Obama.… Many were questioning the extreme measures taken by the Bush administration, especially after the disclosure of abuses and illegalities.

However, President Obama not only retained the controversial Bush policies, he expanded on them. The earliest, and most startling, move came quickly. Soon after his election, various military and political figures reported that Obama reportedly promised Bush officials in private that no one would be investigated or prosecuted for torture. In his first year, Obama made good on that promise, announcing that no CIA employee would be prosecuted for torture. Later, his administration refused to prosecute any of the Bush officials responsible for ordering or justifying the program and embraced the “just following orders” defense for other officials, the very defense rejected by the United States at the Nuremberg trials after World War II.

Obama may have flown by the fail-safe line, especially when it comes to waterboarding. For many civil libertarians, it will be virtually impossible to vote for someone who has flagrantly ignored the Convention Against Torture or its underlying Nuremberg Principles. As Obama and Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. have admitted, waterboarding is clearly torture and has been long defined as such by both international and U.S. courts. It is not only a crime but a war crime. By blocking the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for torture, Obama violated international law and reinforced other countries in refusing investigation of their own alleged war crimes. The administration magnified the damage by blocking efforts of other countries like Spain from investigating our alleged war crimes. In this process, his administration shredded principles on the accountability of government officials and lawyers facilitating war crimes and further destroyed the credibility of the U.S. in objecting to civil liberties abuses abroad.

George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are war criminals. Obama is an accessory to war crimes.

It isn’t just the non-prosecution of the Bush administration war criminals. More importantly, the problem is also the prevention of the abused to seek redress through the courts. Matthew Payne, at The Paltry Sapien, eloquently writes:

The Obama Administration has closed the court house doors to numerous civil rights suits by those detained, tortured and kidnapped in the name of “national security.” Not to belabor the point, but any country whose national security needs to be protected by illegal detention, torture and kidnapping is not a liberal democracy. It is not even a civilized state—it is a rogue nation in every sense of the word and the Kafka-esqe equivocations of Obama’s Department of Justice grossly misusing judicial pettifogging such as “standing” do little to hide this reality. And the relentless expansion of the surveillance state makes Barack Obama the director of a nightmarish remake of The Lives of Others.

It is the police state that the United States has become that bothers me the most. We were already rapidly heading in that direction. Obama, somehow, managed to accelerate that sprint even more.

Matthew Payne continues:

As bad as Obama has been in prosecuting the Forever War…

He’s referring to the “Global War on Terror™”, not the other Bush wars Obama has continued.

…and its concomitant attack on civil liberties…, he has been a full-on disaster for the protection of civil rights.… The Democratic Party will not rein in the power of their “own” president, and many strong critics of the assault on civil rights have been silenced by either the taint of association of this rights-ignoring administration, or fear to stand up to the bullying of an arrogant and callous President for fear that a bigger bully, in the form of a GOP neo-McCarthyism, awaits in the wings.… Civil libertarians are demonized by the GOP and marginalized by the Democrats; far too many of them chose a vapid “pragmatism” by staying with the political faction that pretends to listen to them, at least around primary season.… Unfortunately in living this lie, that choosing the lesser of two evils is not choosing evil, these liberals have made themselves moral eunuchs.

Show some balls. Don’t vote for Obama.

Vote away your civil liberties

23 Responses to “Why I Won’t Be Voting for Obama”

  1. NFQ Says:

    So, here’s the thing … as nice as it would be, an election is not actually a choice between all conceivably possible candidates. I agree that Obama has done some bad things while in office. I also think he’s done some good things in office. The question isn’t, “Is Candidate X a perfect candidate?” It’s, “Which do I prefer, Candidate X or Candidate Y?” Most of the Republican presidential field right now is openly interested in creating an American theocracy. If you would really prefer one of them be president instead of Obama, go ahead and vote for them … but in either case, I think stating your actual preference makes more sense than not voting at all. There’s nothing to be gained by punishing the entire country (by refusing to vote for any candidate, reducing the support for your preferred candidate) because Obama hasn’t lived up to your hopes.

  2. Matthew Lenoe Says:

    The previous commenter represents exactly the problem Payne is talking about. “Obama has done some bad things and some good things. Ho hum. the Republicans are worse.” These aren’t just “bad things,” these are fundamental civil rights and hence the future of our democracy at stake. At what point does one stop voting for “the lesser of two evils”? Hitler vs. Mussolini? Do you vote for Mussolini?

  3. James Maehling Says:

    Ok, fine, Obama hasn’t been the best with everything. Name one Republican of those still running that wouldn’t potentially be 10 times worse.

    The way I see it, you have four options with the upcoming election:

    A – Don’t vote. There are those who say that if you don’t vote you cannot complain about who is president. This is your blog plus the First Amendment tells those people to go stuff themselves.

    B – Vote for Obama. This will be his 2nd and last term. It is not unheard of for politicians in their last term in office, whether through term-limits or they are retiring, to start proposing legislation that normally would drive people away from voting for them were they running for office. What I’m saying here is there would be the possibility of Obama changing things in his last term because he doesn’t have to worry about pleasing voters again while as President.

    C – Vote for a third party candidate. Some would say you’d be throwing your vote away here, but again, they can go stuff themselves.

    D – Hold your nose, vote for the Republican and barf afterward.

  4. Jim Jones Says:

    To quote Bobcat Goldthwaite: “Voting for president is like going to the adult novelty store and figuring out which dildo will hurt the least”.

    Every election is like that.

  5. Parrotlover77 Says:

    Bay of Fundie has officially jumped the shark. Sigh. Too bad. It was a GREAT blog while it lasted.

  6. Ron Britton Says:

    Never jumped the shark. My opinions have never changed. I proudly voted for Nader in 2000, and I have no regrets.

  7. Ron Britton Says:

    Some of the commenters so far are pointing out that since the Republican candidate will be far worse, I should vote for Obama. If it were a simple matter of disagreeing with some or even most of his agenda or record, I could see the point.

    He didn’t close Gitmo. He gave us crappy healthcare “reform”. He extended the Bush tax cuts for the rich, etc. etc. I could live with those. I could compromise those values and accept what he is able to deliver.

    The problem is that Obama is taking away our civil liberties. He is taking away rights guaranteed in the Constitution.

    This isn’t a tax cut or an entitlement program we’re talking about.

    These are our civil liberties.

    They must NEVER be compromised.

  8. Diane Says:

    You are a fool if you think that sitting out this election or not voting for POTUS Obama will in any way improve your life.
    I’m assuming you will not be voting.
    And, I assume, that you remember Florida in 2000.
    Not a lot of votes separated Gore from bush and throw in republican skullduggery, you got Gitmo and the Patriot Act PLUS A WAR.

    If you do not stand up to the republicans now,and a republican wins the WH and they have a majority in the House you and kiss your civil liberties AND your religious ones away.

    These republicans are zealots. If Mitt is not nominated, have you really listened to what santorum Gingrich and paul are saying?
    I might add, are you sane?
    Would you be any happier with any of the others?
    The older I get, I realize that life is compromise. I may not like several of the things that OBAMA has or has not done, but when I view the evangelical, christians who have a stranglehold on the republican party, I will vote for anyone but.
    Not to vote, is to hand your opponent a victory.

  9. Ron Britton Says:

    Diane:

    You obviously didn’t read my last comment. I’m willing to compromise a lot. I have compromised a lot. There are certain limits I will not cross.

  10. Diane Says:

    “He has no patience for lies, hypocrisy, incompetence, stupidity, self-inflicted ignorance, self-appointed dictators of public morals, superstition, or imaginary sky people.”

    Ron,
    Those are your words I quoted.
    You, by your definition, can not tolerate any of the extremist republican candidates.
    I share your concern about POTUS Obama. But I need to remind you that the issues you are concerned with were started under a republican Congress and president.
    Do you think that voting for a republican will change this? Are you considering the religious implications is a possible election of a radical evangelical right wing republican POTUS?

    You have a responsibility to vote. You also have a responsibility to change things for the better. We all do.
    I feel strongly that when we do not exercise our right and responsibility to vote, we give the other party, by default a vote.
    I see terrible horrible things happening to this country if any of the republicans are elected.

  11. Draken Says:

    It’s funny how not one of you ‘mericans comes with the obvious solution almost any west-European country would come up with: get together and finally found that social-democratic party.

    That would also solve the problem that any two-party state is always just one party away from dictatorship.

  12. Jeff Says:

    @Matthew Lenoe: At what point does one stop voting for “the lesser of two evils”? Hitler vs. Mussolini? Do you vote for Mussolini?

    You do if it’s the only way to keep Hitler out of office.

  13. Ron Britton Says:

    Draken:

    It’s funny how not one of you ‘mericans comes with the obvious solution almost any west-European country would come up with: get together and finally found that social-democratic party.

    That’s not possible under the American system. It’s rigged to perpetuate the two-party duopoly. Third parties can’t get enough traction to become viable alternatives. The Democrats and Republicans won’t allow rules that threaten their status.

    The two biggest things that could fix most of the corruption in American politics and make third parties viable are public financing of elections and instant-runoff voting. The Republicrats are opposed to both and block all attempts at reform.

  14. Brian Says:

    Four years ago I expended a considerable amount of energy on this blog urging this bunch to undo the abuses of the Bush Administration by voting in Barack Obama. Many of you suggested my opposition of Hillary Clinton was misguided, as I viewed her as just another politician who would give us more of the same partisan bickering that has come to define American politics in the last few decades. Obama was going to transcend all of that, I argued.

    Four years later, I don’t know what to say. Obama has clearly not been the president I thought he would be. Maybe I was naive and a little drunk from the Kool-Aid. At any rate, I have been consistently disappointed with much of his job performance. The idealism I thought he would bring to the job turned into milquetoast acquiescence to the GOP that was only devoted to ruining his presidency. As I see it, we can blame both the Republicans and Obama for the fact that things are not getting any better.

    So, what do we do about it? That is really what this article is all about. Some argue that not voting for Obama will only allow a worse Republican to win in November. I think Ron’s point is that we already know our civil liberties are screwed with Obama, so why should he get a pass? Unfortunately, our politics are structured so that we can never resolve it at the voting booth. I have long maintained that our current two-party system is an abomination and needs to be abolished. I really do hate both parties, only for different reasons. Proportional representation seems to me to be the best way to promote democracy.

    So how do we get there? Unfortunately, the only way we can restore our republic is for the vast majority of Americans to get off of their complacent asses and realize what this country has become. That won’t be easy or pleasant, as most Americans care more about Kim Kardashian’s vagina than their civil liberties. No, I’m afraid the only way we will start caring is for things to get truly medieval around here. We all fear a theocracy, and rightly so, but maybe enduring one is the only way we’ll come to value our freedom and liberties again. I know I sound like a Tea Party asshat with all of this doom and gloom, but many of them do have a point about what has become of our country. They’re just blaming only part of the people responsible.

    So, I guess we’d better gird our loins for the coming dark ages. Or am I overreacting? The question Ron poses has no easy answer, but can be easily argued anyway. Whatever the case may be, I won’t be getting carried away with any candidate this year. I suppose that’s a start.

  15. Jeff Says:

    So, I guess we’d better gird our loins for the coming dark ages. Or am I overreacting?

    You are not overreacting at all. I don’t think there’s anything we can do about it. We’re just screwed – as a nation, as a civilization and almost certainly as a species.

    I say it all the time – I can’t believe we’ve lasted this long. Perhaps the fundies are right; perhaps we have been the beneficiaries of divine intervention. (Of course, we’ve killed that off with abortion and gay marriage!)

  16. Joker Says:

    To be honest, I agree with you in principle, Obama has had an abysmal stand on civil liberties. The basic quesiton is this, what do we do when our alternatives look no better? I can’t imagine Romney, Newt or any of the other front runners suddenly becoming great civil libertarians and some of them could do even worse things.

  17. Ron Britton Says:

    Joker:

    That’s the dilemma, isn’t it? The system is broken. It has been for quite a while. Each of us has to decide how we will respond.

    Voting for either major-party candidate is probably the wrong thing to do. Voting for a third-party candidate is probably the wrong thing to do. Not voting is probably the wrong thing to do. None of those will fix the system or restore our liberties.

  18. Michael Says:

    In response to Draken’s post he is correct in that if there was a viable third party tha would break up our partisan system. And the scary part is that if everyone voted we could actually achieve that status. Because only 5% of the nation would be needed to put our system into three parties or more.
    There would be the problem with all the government agencies skewing the numbers so that never happens(which I believe they did when Nader was running for president, both times in early 2000).

    The President has done bad things, but our do absolutely nothing congress has done the worst in history, and nothing can change the statistics on those haters.

    Our previous administration used fear and absolute lies to take away our freedoms and civil liberties. SOPA is just another stab in the back to the public, along with the militarization of our police forces.

    Be afraid, very afraid, because if the Rep.(puppets) get in the WH, you will know why the Mayans ended their calender on 2012. The U.S. will crash just like what happened with the Romans and all other major civilizations and the world will follow. Famine, civil unrest, and more than likely Martial Law, you will all be wishing for the volcano in Yellowstone to go off to end it all.
    Have a good day

  19. Ron Britton Says:

    Michael:

    The system is rigged against third parties, as you allude to. The Republicans and Democrats have a gentlemen’s agreement to not implement any voting reforms that would allow a third party to become viable.

    I disagree with you about all of the people who don’t vote. I haven’t seen any indication that they would vote differently than those who do vote.

    I agree that Congress is largely responsible for the legislative failings of the Obama administration. Even when the Democrats had a majority, they were incapable of accomplishing anything.

    I focused on Obama specifically in this post, because I wanted to say why I cannot vote for him. I completely disagree with his agenda. Most of the things mentioned in this post, and all of the things mentioned in the following post (“Obama’s Record”) are the result of his decisions. They are executive-branch policies. I wanted to enumerate those failings, so the brainwashed Kool-Aid drinking Obama apologists can’t use their only excuse (“It’s Congresses fault! It’s those Blue Dog Democrats! Elect more liberal Democrats and all will be wine and roses!”).

    You’re right that the Republicans are worse, but it’s just matter of speed. When the Republicans are in power, they take away your civil liberties about 5% faster than the Democrats do.

    Go read that list in the next article. I cannot and will not vote for somebody who has taken away my civil liberties.

  20. ericsan Says:

    However flawed Obama’s choices may have been, I think we’re also seeing the result of the very many mistakes he’s made by being the man of compromise and consensus, and having terrible advisors. I may be very naive, but I believe these days are mostly over, and I’m hoping his second term will be considerably less disappointing than the first.

    Regardless, any of the republicans would be such an absolute disaster that I’d rather not think about it. So, I will be voting for Obama and expecting improvement — and do as much as I can to make sure improvement occurs.

    I mean, seriously, Gingrich as president? You could honestly tell me that you could look at your face in the mirror every morning knowing that you contributed to this calamity? (or maybe you’d be in France living in my basement, I don’t know) ;)

  21. Ron Britton Says:

    Ericsan:

    Are you offering? I’ll pack tonight!

  22. Jeff Says:

    @ericsan:

    However flawed Obama’s choices may have been, I think we’re also seeing the result of the very many mistakes he’s made by being the man of compromise and consensus, and having terrible advisors.

    Justin Frank, a psychiatrist, has recently come out with a book, Obama on the Couch, in which he deals with this. CSpan recorded one of his public appearances.

    I also heard someone recently – it might have been Frank as well – analyzing Obama and Bush. According to this guy, Bush is constantly competing with his father, so he always has to be right and you can’t tell him anything. Obama, on the other hand, comes from a broken home and is therefore always playing the appeaser.

    I am not a fan of the psychiatric or psychological professions, but I offer these for what they’re worth (which may be nothing).

    I may be very naive, but I believe these days are mostly over, and I’m hoping his second term will be considerably less disappointing than the first.

    If he has one. The Repubs have spent the past three and a half years getting the less intellectually advantaged elements all riled up about that “socialist Muslim” in the White House. At this point, a coffee table would be electable; either Gingrich or Romney certainly must be.

    I mean, seriously, Gingrich as president? You could honestly tell me that you could look at your face in the mirror every morning knowing that you contributed to this calamity? (or maybe you’d be in France living in my basement, I don’t know)

    Ron, I have to agree with ericsan.

  23. Jeff Says:

    Sorry, here’s the link to Frank’s talk.