03 November 2008

My Dysendorsement for 2008

Rather than tell you who to vote for, I'll play the negative game by asking you not to vote for a particular candidate. That's the point of the "dysendorsement," a coinage of the moment inspired by "dystopian" fiction -- the opposite of utopian -- that can be called a "dis" for short. The inaugural Think 3 Presidential Dysendorsement goes to Senator John McCain of Arizona, the Republican candidate for President.

The only reason to vote for John McCain is to endorse the invasion of Iraq and to ensure more war along the same lines. Of the candidates who have a theoretical chance of winning the popular vote, McCain is the only one who approves of the invasion and the only one who would perpetuate the neocon foreign policy that produced it. On that score, he's pretty rare even in the long list of candidates on this blog. If anything, McCain means to make things worse by creating a "League of Democracies" for the self-evident purpose of waging war without answering to the United Nations and the vetoes of Russia and China. He will continue the fanatical moralization of global politics, refusing to recognize conflicts of interests in their true form and preferring to denounce every obstacle to American hegemony as "evil." The hypocrisy of his approach was obvious in his quick condemnation of Russia's intervention in Georgia, which was no more than the mirror image of NATO's adventures in Yugoslavia. A vote for McCain is a vote for war; not an immediate authorization of force, necessarily, but a concession of its greater likelihood over the next four years.

Domestically, McCain is admittedly ignorant of economics. What he does claim to know of the subject is pure ideology: the supply-side dogma, still founded on the now-naive premise that money saved by corporations thanks to tax cuts will be invested in job-creating ventures rather than gambled like casino chips in the stock market and other high-stakes venues. On energy issues McCain has proven too eager as an electioneer to embrace short-term solutions like "Drill, Baby, Drill," rather than mandate changes that would require discipline and sacrifice for the national good from the industrial sector. Even at the end of the campaign, he prefers to score cheap points in battleground states by fearmongering and pandering in the coal regions of Pennsylvania. McCain's puerile taxophobia and his cynical disparagement of "government" only encourage Americans' alienation from the state that is rightly theirs. By mocking the notion that the people can use their government to better their condition, he would have them leave government to those who would use it in their own private interests -- the same elements whose influence in government McCain pretends to deplore.

Senator McCain is inadequate on both the domestic and international fronts, and is undeserving of a single vote. I grant that he isn't the ogre of Democratic propaganda, and I allow the possibility that he would govern as a true "maverick" in defiance of both Republican partisans and conservative dogma. But he has made promises and commitments this year that undermine any confidence in his ability to be anything but a GOP tool.

This dysendorsement is specific in its mandate. It is a recommendation against voting for John McCain, which isn't exactly the same thing as recommending a vote against McCain. To clarify, I'm not telling you to "Stop McCain." That argument would almost automatically force me to endorse Senator Obama. That's how things normally work in the American Bipolarchy. The perverse symbiosis of Democrats and Republicans depends on one being the threat that justifies the other's existence. If McCain is so terrible, mustn't we vote for Obama to stop him taking over? The answer is no. All we need to do to stop McCain is not vote for him. There are other people beside him and Obama to vote for, as I have labored to show. As I wrote above, the only reason to vote for McCain is to endorse the war. If you're a conservative who dreads the advent of Obama, there are conservative alternatives in Bob Barr and Chuck Baldwin. If you fear McCain but find Obama inadequate, you have Ralph Nader, Cynthia McKinney and others to the left. There may be a worst candidate, but his existence should not prevent anyone from voting for whomever you consider to be the best candidate. If more people voted for what they actually believed in, rather than for what they considered necessary to prevent the worst outcome, we would probably come closer to the best outcome more often in these experiments.

I won't presume to tell you who the best candidate is, but I will tell you tomorrow whom I voted for, and why. Stay tuned.

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