I had a couple of darling friends over last night, and over many glasses of tempranillo and a couple of cohibas, we talked about whether Obama really is "less" evil than McCain.
Now I am sworn to secrecy as to the identity of these two darlings. In super blue Seattle, admitting that you're not part of the koolaid class could damage your social standing. I throw fabulous dinner parties and am a charming hostess, I can get away with publicly shaming the naked emperor. People still want to show up for my cooking. So I can say things like Obama is worse than McCain because we lose any hope of pulling the party back to progressive ideals for at least 8 years if he wins, with McCain we only have to wait 4 years. And during those 8 years we may lose the party to the right forever.
And right now, Bill Moyers is talking to a couple of conservatives on the tv about the fall of conservatism. At least one of the guys is an old school conservative, you know- separation of church and state, civil liberties loving conservative. Very Barry Goldwater. The other is a young whippersnapper, Contract with America type. Massive paraphrasing to follow.
The conservatives have lost their way and everything they once stood for, like individual freedoms, civil liberties, fiscal responsibility, etc. etc. has gone away in favor of the rabid dog of theocratic imperialism (totally my phrase). The idea being passed around by these guys is that the Republicans went so far to win, that they lost their basic foundations. Lockstep loyalty to the the party leader became more important than loyalty to the ideals that drew them to conservatism to begin with.
Lockstep loyalty to a party leader. Repeat that. Lockstep loyalty to a party leader became more important than ideals. It started with the hero worship of Reagan, but Newt Gingrich cemented the vote with your leader or die style of partisanship. Bush 2 took it to the end, with firings of Federal prosecutors who weren't loyal enough to break the law for him.
Where else might we see people being browbeaten into loyalty to a party leader? Where else are we seeing party ideals like the right to bodily autonomy discarded in favor of party loyalty? Where else might we be seeing the party cave on the basic rights to privacy and freedom in order to push a candidate into winning?
We are watching what could be the crumbling of the conservative extremists. Instead of learning the lesson that truth to ideals is more important than finagling the vote, we have watched Obama co-opt the behaviors of the radical right. Instead we are seeing the most basic Democratic truths thrown out in favor of Republican appeasement.
So while a McCain presidency would hurt for a while, if Obama stays on the path he is on he could bring down the only election outlet progressives have for a generation. Imagine that. Imagine not seeing a real progressive Democrat for 16 years. Imagine that the party platform becomes middle of the road condescension instead of the progressive wish list of things we should be fighting for. Imagine not getting real healthcare reform before you hit retirement. Imagine knowing that your phone company can be listening in on your calls and never being able to fight them over it. Imagine that "safe, legal, and rare" is whittled down to just rare.
The ideal that the Democrats are supposed to stand for means more to me than actually winning the election. I gain nothing, and neither do you, by electing a conservative behind a donkey podium. It doesn't advance our agenda. It doesn't make us safer in our homes or give us access to jobs or education or doctors. It doesn't do any of the things that we want our government to do. It's a sham. And I will not vote for a president who doesn't hold those ideals. If I did, I would have been a Republican, and I would have voted for Bush, twice.
There is no loyalty oath to the Democratic party, at least not one that I've seen. There is nothing that says you must agree with the party leaders or be thrown to the wind. I refuse to agree. I refuse lockstep loyalty to a candidate in order to win because I believe that it will destroy the party eventually.
While I will never vote for a Republican, and certainly won't vote for McCain, I actually do believe McCain is the lesser evil. Or at least the evil with a shorter expiration date. I can wait for years, but I can't wait a lifetime.