Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Why I Voted Republican Yesterday

The words "I voted Republican" sputter from my fingers with trepidation. I killed my mother. I lost my virginity. I gave away my dog. That's how it feels. But I was driven to it by the Democrats' penchant for disaster when mere setbacks can be had -- and I feel I'm not alone. Watch out, Barack Obama, I may do it again in 2012.

The election I voted in was insignificant. In my Democratic-dominated city, there was a special election to fill a seat on the council and I was sick of voting for the same bunch of corrupt, unimaginative bumblers. "My" candidate lost, anyway.

Yet beware: Obama campaign analysts should see in my naughty yet harmless municipal voting the butterfly's wings aflutter that could set in motion an electoral tsunami in 2012.

I didn't expect too much better from the set of cronies who run City Hall. But I had developed dreams about Obama, with his seductive "yes we can" and his smooth palaver about "change you can believe in." Yet after a health bill without a public option, financial "reform" written in bank boardrooms, and the largest single-year set of cuts in federal spending in history along with the continuation of historic tax cuts, I feel like the voter who's woken up alone in a strange bedroom the morning after election night.

I won't say that Obama is corrupt -- although he got to the Oval Office with a suspiciously large amount of Wall Street money. But his White House could be mistaken for functioning unimaginatively, sometimes to the point that one thinks it's Bush still in charge. As for bumblers, what else should I call an administration that keeps bargaining against itself?

Even the unions, which are not the havens of the most saintly people ever known, have woken up. The International Association of Fire Fighters announced it was cutting off the campaign money spigot for Democrats given their failure to respond to the wave of labor policy rollbacks Republicans are pushing across the nation.

Hispanics and Asians sat out the 2010 elections, according to the latest news. As a Hispanic, I agree with Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill) that Obama's immigration policy failures have a lot to do with it. Obama didn't even dare put forth a reform bill, sat on his hands during the DREAM Act debacle and then, to cap insult with injury launched the most intensive deportation sweeps since the Palmer Raids of the 1920s.

For me, the path to convincing myself to vote Republican in 2012, win or lose, begins with the notion that Obama has turned out to be very little better than Bush, if that. Yes, we now have a president who can pronounce the word "nuclear" and who isn't a sheer embarrassment to me in front of my foreign friends.

As with John F. Kennedy in 1960, we broke a prejudice barrier at the ballot box. Although, take note, African-Americans: no Catholic was ever elected to the White House since.

Beyond that, those of us who enthusiastically voted for Obama, who put pro-Obama bumper-stickers on our car (and not the Obama logo one, either), those of us who would like an America that is progressively better, more generous and more kind, we got extremely little.

Would McCain have let the country go to the dogs? Perhaps. This is what scares me about the Libertarian-leaning Tea Party. They're willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater and just watch what happens. We already know what happens when there's nothing standing between ordinary people and those with money: it's called the Middle Ages.

But there's another path to voting Republican in 2012.

Who united the whole world against U.S. imperialism best but George W. Bush? Who convinced people who gave up on the Democrats 30 years ago to do anything to prevent more Republican economic misrule, but George W. Bush? Who convinced everyone most potently of the utter failure of savage, untaxed capitalism, but George W. Bush?

The answer is clear: to radically change the United States we need two, three or more George W. Bush presidencies, driving at least half the country to live in trailer parks and work in gated compounds as maids and security guards (if they're lucky enough to be spared the sweatshops and the unsafe mines). In the 1960s this approach was thought of as intensifying the contradictions of capitalism to create revolutionary conditions, or as others put it, breaking eggs to make an omelet.

Maybe when most Americans live in Brazilian favela-like slums they will wake up. And get out of the way when angry Americans arise.

It's up to Obama. Show me what you've done to earn my vote by November 2012. You haven't yet.

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