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Why Obama Will Disappoint Progressives and I Voted for Him Anyway

Anyone who thinks President Obama will magically turn around in his second term and be a real progressive is high on a 2008 supply. Soon after President Obama is re-elected he will do the Grand Bargain deal with Republicans, which will cut Medicare, Medicaid, discretionary spending and maybe even Social Security. On top of that, they will pretend to get extra revenue from closing loopholes but in reality they will definitely do a corporate tax cut and perhaps even a top rate tax cut for the rich.(Image: Donkey Hotey / Creative Commons via Flickr)

President Obama views this as the height of courage because conventional wisdom in Washington is that screwing over your own constituents is very, very bold. Yes, not laying a glove on the rich and powerful while you take the lion's share from the middle class, poor and powerless is so bold! And if it's so courageous why don't both sides tell us that's what they're going to do before the election? And yes, this time the Republicans will take the deal because it actually helps their donors a tremendous amount.

President Obama will also continue senseless signature strikes where we have no idea who we're killing with our drones. He will also continue warrantless wiretapping and indefinite detentions. He will pass every trade deal multi-national corporations demand, he will continue to break records in oil drilling and approve the northern half of the Keystone XL pipeline.

And oh yeah, he will continue to do almost nothing on the biggest problem in the country - the enormously corrupting influence of money in politics. The man who raised a billion dollars in legalized bribes in this election will not magically become a reformer in his next term. The only way he goes in that direction is if we push him. The only hope we have is that he is a politician and might change with the times if world events force him to.

So, I am under no delusion that I will be getting change or hope or a progressive. I will be getting a non-radical Republican. So, why vote for him? It's as simple as this - we have no other choice. It is amazing to me that anyone would ever consider voting for Mitt Romney.

Who in their right mind believes that Mitt Romney is going to fight for them (unless you're already a billionaire)? The man promises a 20% tax cut on top of the existing Bush tax cut for the rich. And he would get rid of the estate tax, which saves Sheldon Adelson's family alone about $9 billion. Let alone what it saves Mitt Romney's own family. There has never been a better representative of the rich and powerful. How can nearly half this country be so blind that they can't see that?

The income inequality that Mitt Romney would bring would be so devastating not just because of its grotesque unfairness but because it would also destroy our economy. Every time we have had income inequality on this scale we have had a massive economic crash, as we did right before the Great Depression and 2008.

Then there are the possible wars in the Middle East, the further deregulation of the banks, the jaw dropping deficits and the list goes on. Part of the reason this race is even close is because the media is scared to death of reporting facts. Everything has to be even. Just like before Iraq, the media thought it would be biased to call out the nonsense talking points of the Republicans. And what happened? Nearly 70% of the country thought Saddam Hussein attacked us on 9-11. They were deceived. And the media said it wasn't their job to tell them otherwise. When, in fact, that is exactly their job.

And now we're living through the same thing. The media never clearly told the American people that Mitt Romney's tax plan is a giveaway worth trillions of dollars to the rich, that according to his own plan the spending cuts would come almost exclusively from the middle class, that he was planning the greatest robbery in American history. It would be biased to report on the facts of Romney's own plan. So, we got to point where the American people were almost deceived into another great mistake. Almost.

In the end, President Obama will win on Tuesday. Some progressives will make the mistake of thinking they won and be sorely disappointed in a couple of months when they find out what's in that Grand Bargain. But what choice did we have? Apocalypse Now or Apocalypse Later.

So, that is the most important thing I want to leave you with. Voting is among the choices you have - and a very important one - but it is not the only thing you can do. In the short term, you must vote for the best of the choices you realistically have, otherwise you are aiding and abetting disaster. But in the mid-term you should fight for real progressives in primaries, so you have a real choice during the general election.

Wouldn't it be great to vote for someone you're proud of and know will actually represent your point of view? When they tell you that you don't have a choice in a primary because the corporate centrist has the better chance of winning the general election, don't believe them for a second. Even Republicans become progressives before an election (look at Romney pretending to protect Medicare now); progressives, not corporatists, are the center of the country.

Most importantly, in the long-term we must fight to get the corrupting influence of money out of politics. Until we stop this insane system of legalized bribery where both parties brag about how much money they have raised from the richest people in the world, we are never going to get good choices in the short-term. Russ Feingold says basically if you think there's no such thing as a free lunch, you can be sure there's no such thing as a free $10 million donation to a politician.