Everyone who calls themselves a progressive, a liberal, a leftist, whatever needs to read Theda Skocpol. And Larry Lessig. Getting mad about something like the FISA deal, which is, as Lessig says, a tough call which probably won’t be anywhere near as disastrous as the world thinks it will, isn’t helpful. It wouldn’t be helpful in a primary election against a center-right candidate like Hillary Clinton, and it sure as hell isn’t helpful in a general election against a far-right candidate like John McCain. When you choose to criticize someone, you do so with the understanding that, if you’re in a prominent enough position, you will hurt them. You will damage them. You will make their success less likely. You will help their opponent. And when that someone is Obama, and that opponent is McCain, that’s immoral. That’s anti-progressive. That helps the forces that have been beating the shit out of our country for the last eight years. And so people like Glenn Greenwald, people like Stephen Suh – y’all need to shut up.
I know, I know – you’re not Obama staff. You don’t need to defend his every move. You have principles. But you know what? I’ve got principles too. I think unwanted occupation is evil. I think that a society in which someone can die because they can’t afford health care is sick. I think when modern industry and technology is destroying our planet we have an obligation to save it. I think every child in America is entitled to an equal chance at success in our economy, and that the system as it stands is very, very far from that goal. And at the heart of all those is my fundamental belief in promoting the greatest happiness for the greatest number. Because you can call it crass, you can call it cold, you can call it calculating, but utilitarianism makes the world a better place. It makes lives more livable. It’s about subordinating means to ends, yes, but those ends are pretty damn righteous.
And you know what, Glenn? You know what, Steve? There are two candidates in this race, and one of them is going to work toward those ends a hell of a lot better than the other. Neither’s perfect, neither’s going to turn America into a happy land of sunshine and unicorns, but one will end the war. One will fight for universal health care. One is committed to stopping global warming. One will appoint progressive judges and protect a woman’s right to choose. One will extend all the federal rights of marriage to same-sex couples. And one of them has said that his first priority upon taking office will be reviewing all of Bush’s executive orders and repealing the unconstitutional ones. We ought to be fighting for that candidate. We ought to be defending him and attacking his opponent. He’s not perfect, but he’s the best candidate either party has fielded in my lifetime, and if that’s not good enough for you, then you’re going to spend your whole life being disappointed.
So if you’re upset about FISA, fine. If you’re upset about one thing that Obama said at one fundraiser, fine. But writing long, angry rants about it? Threatening to not vote for Obama? That’s stupid. That’s idiotic. I know, I know, “it’s my vote”, but that’s a stupid way to go about using it. It doesn’t serve the interests of those disappointed by Obama, let alone the interests of the country. If you’re a progressive, if you’re a liberal, if you’re leftist, whatever – you’ve got one candidate. You’ve got one option. You can be disappointed, but don’t pretend that that isn’t the case. Don’t pretend that you can do anything but harm the causes you hold dear by not voting for Obama. Because you can’t.
Right now, we’ve got the best chance in decades for progressive change, the best chance in decades to accomplish the goals we’ve fought for for lifetimes. Let’s not blow it.