In a 2004 episode of Comedy Central's animated series South Park, an election was held to determine whether the new mascot for the town's elementary school would be a "giant douche" or a "turd sandwich." Confronted with these two equally unpalatable choices, one child, Stan Marsh, refused to vote at all, which resulted in his ostracization and subsequent banishment from the town.
Although this satirical vulgarity was intended as a commentary on the two candidates running for president of the United States during that time-John Kerry and George W. Bush-as I looked back at the myriad of political candidates throughout American history, it became clear that, regardless of the political office being sought, American voters have indeed often been required to choose between a "douche" and a "turd."
So I began to ask myself why only the most despicable and unsavory people seem to obtain political office, particularly in a nation where the blessings of freedom of speech and press should produce an educated and informed electorate.
One obvious explanation is the inanity and inefficiency of the two-party system. This system, by its very nature, creates a constant cycle where one party holds power, and the other party desires it. The result is perpetual political gridlock as the party seeking power incessantly labors to make the party holding power appear weak and ineffective.
Another explanation is the antithetical reality that people who desire to wield power over their fellow human beings are usually the ones least deserving of it. And even though many try to convince themselves they are concerned about "justice" or "public service," the corrupting influence of politics soon dispels such illusions.
In fact, any student of history will be hard pressed to find any American president who, at some point during his term in office, did not make at least one decision that resulted in the deaths of others. And many actually relished making such decisions.
In one famous (or perhaps infamous) case, Robert Oppenheimer, the "father" of the atomic bomb, lamented the fact that he had "blood on his hands" after president Harry Truman ordered Oppenheimer's creations to be dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Upon hearing Oppenheimer's statement, Truman allegedly remarked, "Blood on his hands, damn it, he hasn't half as much blood on his hands as I have" (The New Atlantis, Fall 2006).
For exhibiting these pangs of conscience, Oppenheimer was politically attacked and his security clearance was revoked. Truman, by contrast, enjoyed, and still enjoys, the reputation of being a decisive, "no-holds barred" politician.
More recently, America, and the world, experienced the sadistic gleam in the eyes of "wartime president," and Vietnam-era draft-dodger, George W. Bush as, from the safety of the White House, he challenged Iraqi insurgents to "bring it on," even as thousands of Americans, and tens-of-thousands of Iraqis, were meeting their deaths in a war waged upon nothing but lies. Yet it was not Bush, but those who questioned his motives or exposed his lies who were castigated.
Democracy in America is rarely a case of voting for a candidate and frequently a case of voting against a candidate. The problem is, in a two-party system, the impetus to vote against one candidate invariably means supporting the other, and oftentimes voters have done little research into the candidate who subsequently receives their vote.
An example of this comes from the State of Indiana, where long-time Republican Senator Richard Lugar lost the primary election to Richard Mourdock, a right-wing imbecile backed by the billionaire-supported "tea party." Although Mourdock has since attempted to disavow his "tea party" roots, he recently caused significant controversy when, during a political debate, he stated that if rape resulted in the pregnancy of the victim, it was something that "God intended."
In the past, whenever I looked at democracy, I always subscribed to Che Guevara's philosophy that it was nothing but a charade created to dupe people into believing that change can come without revolution. As the 2012 election campaigns progressed, I even came to believe that it might actually be a positive thing if the "tea party" candidates gained control of America's government. Since their policies would hasten the demise of the middle-class, enhance corporate greed, increase the "outsourcing" of jobs, and further lead America's legal system down its sordid pathway of ignoring or excusing government and corporate criminality and corruption, more and more Americans would experience or witness injustices, lose more freedoms, and see their loved ones die in unnecessary wars or from lack of affordable health care. Ultimately, they will realize they have nothing left to lose. And, historically, revolutions have been fueled by people with nothing left to lose.
But then I realized that, given today's technology, neither peaceful nor armed revolution will ever be successful in America. The very "tools" the United States government has duped its fearful populace into blindly accepting to "combat terrorism"-DNA profiling; facial recognition technologies; unbridledauthority to wiretap and spy on people's personal lives; cameras on highways and at traffic lights; GPS tracking; monitoring of Internet and cell phone usage; denials of due process; warrantless searches; indefinite detentions without charge or trial; the use of torture; a legal system with conspicuous contempt for the Bill of Rights and disdain for victims of government crimes; the protection of people who engage in or cover-up human rights abuses and the punishing of people who condemn them; CIA "death lists" and extrajudicial executions; and the use of unmanned attack drones to kill and/or maim anyone, anywhere in the world-are now being applied to American citizens, making a successful revolution impossible.
Ironically, although many of these draconian "tools" were originally implemented by George W. Bush, they have been even more zealously embraced by the "progressive" Barack Obama.
Shortly after his election, Obama disappointed many progressives and human rights activists by announcing a "look forward, not backwards" policy that allowed torturers and war criminals from the Bush-era to go unprosecuted and unpunished.
But Obama went even further, defending these torturers and war criminals against civil suits filed by their victims, and pressuring foreign governments into not pursuing their own investigations into Bush-era crimes. Obama also became the first president in recent American history to openly and intentionally target and extrajudicially execute an American citizen, and his so-called "Justice Department," according to an article by David Ingram of Reuters (October 25, 2012), "has prosecuted more [government] leak cases than all previous administrations combined."
One such prosecution involved John Kiriakou, a former CIA agent who, like Oppenheimer, suffered the pangs of conscience. In 2007, Kiriakou exposed the CIA's use of torture during the Bush administration, prompting Obama's "Justice Department" to prosecute him for revealing government "secrets." He recently was extorted into accepting a plea-bargain, agreeing to spend thirty months in prison after presiding judge Leonie Brinkema, in keeping with the legal system's current and corrupt practice of denying due process and fair trials to people who expose or are victimized by government criminality, issued rulings making it virtually impossible for Kiriakou to mount an effective legal defense.
Kiriakou's ordeal should erase any doubts about the extent of Obama's hypocrisy, especially when one recalls how differently his "Justice Department" handled the case of former CIA official Jose Rodriguez, a man with no conscience at all. In 2005, Rodriguez defied orders and destroyed videotapes that depicted the torture of suspected terrorists. Yet, in 2010, after a so-called "investigation," it was announced that no charges would be filed against him-a glaring example, as Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian stated, of how the Obama administration was giving "legal immunity" to Bush-era torturers and war criminals.
As if to put an explanation point on the depths of Obama's duplicity, an unrepentant Rodriguez has even written a book and given interviews defending his actions. According to Amy Davidson of The New Yorker (April 30, 2012), he still embraces the use of torture as if it "were an expression of strength, rather than momentary domination masking the most abject moral and practical weakness." In addition, in August of 2012, Attorney General Eric Holder predictably announced that no charges would be brought against the CIA torturers who caused the deaths of detainees in Afghanistan and Iraq-a repugnant pronouncement that compelled The Guardian's Greenwald to proclaim that the "Obama administration's aggressive, full-scaled whitewashing of the 'war on terror' crimes committed by Bush officials is now complete."
Words alone are inadequate to express the vileness and stench of this hypocrisy, particularly when emanating from a man like Obama, who had the audacity to accept the Nobel Peace Prize; an Attorney General like Eric Holder who pontificates about his so-called "integrity" while demonstrating so little of it; and a government that continues to trumpet its respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights while ignoring them at every juncture.
Perhaps such hypocrisy explains why so many Americans choose to remain oblivious to their government's foreign affairs policies, and focus instead on domestic issues that directly affect their pocketbooks. Ignorance may indeed be bliss, especially when the acquiring of knowledge only serves to haunt one's days and nights by revealing just how contemptible and odious the reprobates who control the United States really are.
Such hypocrisy also underscores the powerlessness of the people, even in a so-called democracy. If Barack Obama can become as depraved as, and in some cases even more depraved, than George W. Bush, what hope is there for ever electing political leaders who possess even a modicum of integrity, morality, and honor?
Such hypocrisy can even make one question the existence of God, or to pray that heaven and hell do indeed exist, because men like Bush, Obama, Holder, Rodriguez and numerous CIA torturers and murderers certainly have no fear of humanly created justice.
Some have argued that Obama's duplicity is simply a confirmation that the president is merely a figurehead, and that the military-industrial complex and criminal agencies like the CIA truly control America. While I do not doubt that this may be partially true, I also believe the corrupting influence of power played a significant role in influencing Obama. After all, history is replete with examples of how the oppressed, upon obtaining power, have often become as bad, and in some cases even worse, than their oppressors.
So while Obama may once have had concerns about war crimes and governmental abuses of power, these concerns were quickly vanquished once he obtained the ability to abuse that power and to commit war crimes himself.
Case in point-the NATO bombing of Libya, which Obama claimed was to protect Libyan civilians from potential massacres by pro-Gaddafi forces. Yet such concerns have been conspicuously absent as Syrian president Bashar al-Assad massacres his own people.
Although many foreign policy analysts try to justify Obama's contradictory responses to the upheavals in these two nations by arguing that America's interests in Libya differ from its interests in Syria, these arguments do not dispel the fact that, just as George W. Bush lied about "weapons of mass destruction" to illegally invade Iraq, Obama lied about his true motives for bombing Libya.
What makes Obama particularly vile in the eyes of this writer, however, is that I actually fell for his con job. I not only voted for him, I even donated financially to his first presidential campaign. And I cried a tear or two in happiness as I saw the joyful faces in Chicago's Grant Park celebrating his 2008 victory.
For years many progressives have been reluctant to cast votes for third-party candidates who represent progressive causes, because such votes often benefit Republicans. Some cite, as an example of this, the presidential election of 2000, when Ralph Nader's candidacy siphoned votes away from Al Gore. So, in order not to "waste" their votes, progressives usually favor Democratic candidates, not because these candidates reflect progressive ideals, but because they are viewed as "the lesser of two evils."
Obama, however, made progressives, anti-war activists and human rights advocates believe they would no longer be taken for granted by the Democratic Party.
If they had only known the truth.
After Obama's election, I promised myself, both as a person and as Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru, that I would not become a hypocrite. If Obama engaged in policies or practices I disagreed with, I would criticize him as vociferously as I did George W. Bush. But I had no idea that, just a few years later, I would be writing that Barack Obama is one of the biggest frauds and criminals in the history of the United States, and, whereas I once envisioned what an honor it would be to meet him, now I would not even cross the street to shake his hand.
And I still weep, but this time it is because, despite the dream of Martin Luther King Jr., despite the sacrifices courageous African-Americans and others in the civil rights movement made to secure the right to vote, the first African-American president in United States history represents none of King's values, and has made a mockery out of every person who voted for him.
Does this mean I am going to vote against Obama? Absolutely not! Because a vote against Obama is a vote for Romney. And, despite their rhetoric, when it comes to their willingness to ignore or protect human rights abusers, to wage wars based upon nothing but lies, and to perpetuate injustice, there is little difference between them.
As some commentators have noted, none of Obama and Romney's so-called "debates" addressed the legality of drone warfare or Obama's failure to prosecute Bush-era criminals; therefore, it is clear that Romney, if elected president, will simply mimic Obama's duplicity, injustices, extrajudicial executions, and warmongering.
So this election I've decided to "waste" my vote, and cast my ballot for a third-party candidate who truly represents the values I want in a president. If that candidate is not on the ballot, I will enter his/her name as a write-in vote. I will do so with no hope that this candidate will win. But I consider it more of a waste to engage in the continuing practice of holding my nose while voting for the "mainstream" presidential candidate who stinks the least.
After all, I have to look at myself in the mirror each morning, and I cannot do that with the knowledge that I voted to place either Romney or Obama into power. And while I will always be cognizant of the fact that I am powerless to prevent the evils and injustices perpetrated by despicable men like them, I will also know that I had no role in giving them power they do not deserve.
In other words, no more "giant douches" or "turd sandwiches" for me.
David R. Hoffman
Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru