I got asked today why I opposed Obama. This is what I came up with.
An original composition by a disaffected Democrat.
In 2008, I voted in a mock election. I walked to the voting booth that was set up in the school cafeteria, ready to vote. I took a pen and marked clearly on the ballot in the bubble next to "Barack H. Obama/Joseph R. Biden" and placed my ballot in the box. The votes were counted; Obama won handily. I later remembered watching the election returns on TV, watching each state colored in blue, and cheering for this victory, for change. I shall not make such a mistake again.
I grew up, I went through middle school, and I learned new, dangerous words, words like "habeas corpus" and "indefinite detention". I learned more, and when December 2011 came around, I was hopeful for a change, and sincerely (naïvely?) waiting for my President to veto what was clearly a bad, bad, law, one that would mean the President could throw me (I am an American citizen residing in America) in prison for however long he wanted without trial or hearing, where I would be held by the United States Armed Forces instead of a civilian prison. I was certain he would veto it; there were no upsides to that law, were there? Clearly there were, though they were never explained to me; he signed it, and that was the conclusion of the cracking of my faith in Barack Obama.
But what was the beginning? Candidate Obama said lots of things: the PATRIOT Act was too powerful, torture is wrong, and of course he was ranked highly by the ACLU. He was a Constitutional lawyer, who knew what it was like to be discriminated against, what it was like when government or business had too much power, who would be a champion of civil liberties. Also, he was born in Hawaii, lived in a foreign nation, and was a minority; surely he understood the plights of people other than wealthy Americans. He was going to end the Iraq War, shut down Guantanamo, stop torture, leave Afghanistan, and be better than Bush, humane and diplomatic. I agreed with all of these things, and voted for him.
But where are we now? We've had Bush Part II. Torture is still going on, in some cases outsourced to other countries, but it's still happening. The NDAA, as mentioned, was passed. SOPA and PIPA, had not the people spoken so firmly, would have been signed, and goodbye free speech and information. Guantanamo Bay is quite clearly still open for business. The PATRIOT Act in full hasn't been shot down, or altered, or touched, but instead renewed. The War in Afghanistan has been escalated, we've still got thousands of 'private military contractors' in Iraq, we have for all intents and purposes invaded Pakistan, and we decided, on a whim, contradicting not only the rational interpretation but his own previously stated one, to invade the sovereign nation of Libya, despite a lack of Congressional approval, and despite a lack of anything approaching a threat to the national security of this nation.
Now, it's disputable that we've invaded Pakistan, but for all intents and purposes we have. We are waging a war in North Waziristan, and it isn't "precise" or "surgical" or any other of the buzzwords the administration is using to describe it. It is a war, and it's a war that's killing hundreds of innocents and children, and it's turned into a dystopian nightmare the lives of thousands more innocents (see Living Under Drones). People are hiding in their homes, people are keeping their kids out of schools, getting psychiatric disorders, being driven insane by drones overhead, never knowing whether or not the next strike will get them. We're ruining the lives of thousands of innocent people and killing hundreds of innocents, for what reward? Creation of more terrorists than are killed by the war. This policy is cowardly, they're immoral, and they are illegal. This opportunistic policy is flat-out wrong, and Democrats who have been somehow brainwashed into thinking it's the most moral of all our policy alternatives are as misinformed and partisan-blinded as any Hannity or Limbaugh.
While we're on the subject of drones, it's worthy to address the extrajudicial killing of American citizens. Anwar al-Awlaki is a difficult figure to feel sympathy towards, but it's not so much the man as the idea. His assassination is one of the most reckless precedents imaginable; no President should be able to secretly order and oversee the extrajudicial killing of American citizens. This transgression makes George W. Bush look like a great defender of the Sixth Amendment, and makes Dick Cheney look like a man who advocated a small executive. If Democrats were the ones out in the streets against this kind of action under Bush/Cheney, anything other than the same now, in (if possible) even worse times, is the behavior of shameful partisan hacks. People complaining about people like Beck, Levin, and Ingraham being hacks should look at their own blatant partisanship.
And while we're talking about assassinations, it's worthy to mention what happens to the people who get captured instead, and what happens to people who dare to talk about that. Whistleblowers, people who reveal documents that reveal the United States government is committing war crimes, is committing crimes against humanity, are accused of violating the Espionage Act of 1917, because their leaks recklessly endanger the lives of American servicemen or some other such feel-good statement that really means they embarrass the government. Barack Obama has called whistleblowers "often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government" and describes leaks as "acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled", which is why the Obama administration has used the Espionage Act to press criminal charges against national security whistleblowers more times than in all previous administrations combined, including continuing cases from the Bush years. People who actually commit the war crimes, the Bush administration officials, are getting off easier than the people who revealed their crimes.
Power has corrupted, and Obama has continued the Bush-era secret intelligence apparatus (the NSA and such) that allow limitless warrantless domestic spying on the American people. We're becoming a police state, and this vast new bureaucracy that Obama is continuing is going to be electronically monitoring you for the rest of his administration with the largest, most costly, and most sophisticated spy organization the world has ever known. Communications equivalent to the contents of the Library of Congress can be intercepted and downloaded every six hours. It's three times the size of the CIA and sucks up a third of the US's entire intelligence budget, for the sole purpose of spying on you. Yes, this is illegal (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978); Obama simply does not care. Your 4th Amendment rights are dead. The NSA is storing copies of all e-mails transmitted in America that can be searched via Google (see a recent Wired article on the new NSA facility in Utah). US officials could monitor, say, the Tea Party, or Occupy Wall Street, or reporters, or any group you wanted. It's exactly what the Founding Fathers feared, and is the way to an Orwellian state. Sorry, sweetie, but your beloved "brave progressive" is a neoconservative. Welcome to Soviet America.
We have abandoned our values. We have tortured. We have created a massive internal security apparatus. We are murdering innocents to make the world more dangerous for American citizens. We are practicing indefinite detention. At this point, Osama has won, and successfully provoked us into saying "To hell with our Constitution". I cannot support that.
It may be a rather petty point, but his supporters are absolutely insufferable. People with a "War Is Not The Answer" sticker next to their "2O12" one always strike me as hypocrites. Bombing innocent civilians, assassinating Americans without trial, jailing whistleblowers, torture… If President McCain was doing this, you'd have the Democratic Party (Constitutional lawyer and Senator Obama foremost) howling from the rooftops, but since it's 'our guy' doing it, these people who would typically care about human rights are strangely silent. These people, people who care about pigment and identity politics over policy and fundamental issues, these yes-we-can-ers, are the ones who forget to ask "Can what?", and opposition to these policies have been scant at best. These are the people who don't even say he's the "lesser of two evils", but is a good, enlightened man. These are the people who say they'd never vote for someone who's anti-equality, someone who's racist, someone who's a torturer, and then turn around and vote for someone who murders hundreds of innocents and hides it from the American people (while bragging about the causality numbers). These are the people who deride Mitt Romney and the Republicans as selfish and arrogant, yet ignore it when it suits them. These are the people who call Romney a plutocrat, and recommend as their alternative the guy who threw Bradley Manning into solitary and murdered in cold blood 16-year-old American-born citizen Abdulrahman al-Awlaki. This was a boy, not on a "kill list", not an al-Qaeda member, who hadn't seen his father (Anwar al-Awlaki) in two years, murdered by a flying robot while eating dinner. The administration has provided no reason. Those are the kinds of people who are living in a different reality (a charge they so often levy against their opponent), a reality where the lives of foreigners, American Muslims, and whistleblowers are worth jack squat, or they live in a reality where they have simply repeated to themselves so many times that Obama has no flaws that they have begun to believe their own propaganda. These are the people who would support any guy with a D next to his name, whether or not they would have been hanged at Nuremberg.