This Election & Our Responsibility

by Debra Sweet

All of us living in this country will confront change after tomorrow's election, but not the change most people think they are getting. If Obama wins, he will preside over changes we don't want and shouldn't get sucked into supporting.

I'm calling on you to keep resisting the crimes being done by your government. Tuesday, let's go out among the people at the polls, and in the evening, be among those celebrating a presumed Obama win to challenge them on the facts, and on their consciences, and raise these questions:

What are people even getting to vote about after this two year long campaign? Did you get to vote on whether the U.S. should occupy Iraq? Or whether the CIA, the private contractors, or the military should use torture and secret detentions?

And what is there to celebrate in an Obama presidency? Making us feel good about the country again when Obama is trying to unite us to fight the "good war" in Afghanistan? Happy that some combat troops will be removed from Iraq, while air strikes kill more civilians in Pakistan and Syria? How could we celebrate "national unity" when Obama's vote for the FISA law opens the way for unprecedented political repression and spying on the people?

I know, from talking to many people, that lots of people have "settled" for Obama, as opposed to McCain. Others are hoping against hope...and will be open to hearing what we have to say. If what we say is unpopular, or angers people, then so be it. You don't change political terms by shying away from controversy. And you can't learn what people really think without challenging their assumptions.

This is not the time to "wait and see" what Obama will do after January 20, or after 6 months or a year...or never, because if he does what's in the peoples' interests he won't be re-elected? He's telling us what he will do, and the worst thing would be to get passive in the face of it.

Wednesday, November 5, World Can't Wait is holding the first anti-war protests while Obama is president-elect. (see sidebar: if the election is stolen for McCain, there will be 5 pm protests at federal buildings that day which we will join with our message).

Millions of people will be overjoyed to see Bush gone after 8 disastrous years. But they project their hopes on a candidate who is not even promising what they want. To be blunt, most people, when you ask them, don't know what Obama's program is. They need to know what Obama is planning, not that which they are being hood-winked to believe in, as Dennis Loo describes it.

1) Obama, the "anti-war" candidate wants to leave 50 to 80,000 troops in Iraq, but move the combat brigades to Afghanistan, and add then add more troops. My friend Missy Beattie, whose nephew was killed in Iraq in 2006, wrote on Counterpunch, "I'm sick of Obama's 'right war' in Afghanistan." He first promoted sending drones and special forces into Pakistan last spring. The Bush regime publicly disagreed, but secretly began attacks on Pakistan in July, which have killed scores of civilians.

Joe Mowrey wrote on Obama's "progressive warfare" in a piece that begins with why Colin Powell, salesman for the Iraq debacle with his own war criminal history, should have driven people from Obama with his endorsement. "Let's catalog of few of Barack Obama's progressive qualifications to be next President of the United States of Imperialism. Well first, there's his adamant condemnation of the war in Iraq. Why, he was against it from the very start. Of course, that hasn't prevented him from voting continually to fund the Occupation. But hey, he has to get elected before he can implement all his wonderful changey policies, right? You know, like maintaining a presence of 50,000 to 80,000 troops in Iraq, along with a dozen or so permanent military bases and the world's largest foreign embassy. Then there is his pledge to escalate the "good war" in Afghanistan. We've only killed about 10,000 or so innocent civilians there in the last few years. I won't feel safe until we can push those numbers much higher. And Pakistan? Sending robot drones out to drop bombs on people is my kind of progressive war. Obama has assured us he'll continue that policy and actually increase the number of illegal violations of that country's sovereignty."

2) The June 2008 FISA Bill: Lots of people have told me this is where their hope for Obama flew away. Obama campaigned against Bush's FISA law. Then he voted FOR it, including immunity to the telephone companies, so no one can sue them for violating federal law for years by handing over email and phone traffic to the NSA. Bush could never have gotten his FISA bill through Congress in 2006, but by 2008, when the Democrats controlled the House, they gave him everything he wanted. People expected Obama, who taught Constitutional law, to protect their rights, but Obama went out of his way to make an unpopular vote to bolster the "war on terror" and set the basis for expanded political repression. He voted for an amended USA PATRIOT Act that had more draconian curbs on political protest thant the 2001 version.

3) Obama vows to expand Bush's "faith-based initiatives" that have wrapped the delivery of shrinking social services in Christian fundamentalist messages. Chris Hedges, a scholar of right wing populism, makes the point in American Fascists that the hard core Christian "fascists" running the reactionary movement of which Sarah Palin is a rising star, don't want to come to an agreement with gay people, women who won't submit to their prescribed role in the family, or people who don't share their religious views. "They are out to eliminate you," said Hedges. (don't miss Chris Hedges new piece today on

As a defender of women's reproductive rights, and abortion doctors specifically, for 26 years, I know they have, and want to eliminate us. In this context, Obama wants to find "common ground" with the program of ending abortion and birth control. He voted against the ban on so-called "partial birth" abortion in the Senate, but now says it's up the states, as long as there's a health exception for the woman concerned. Obama: "I don't think that 'mental distress' qualifies as the health of the mother. I think it has to be a serious physical issue that arises in pregnancy, where there are real, significant problems to the mother carrying that child to term. Otherwise, as long as there is such a medical exception in place, I think we can prohibit late-term abortions."

Obama is not protecting women's rights with his goal of "ending the polarizing debate on abortion." He's endangering them further.

A McCain/Palin presidency would be dangerous. If they win, it will be as illegitimate as Bush's selection was; a terrible further leap in the fascist direction Bush took this society in after 9/11. We should lead people -- who will correctly be horrified -- not to accept a stolen election.

But putting our principles aside just to keep McCain from being elected won't stop this juggernaut of war and repression.

As all this settles in, people who get alarmed need to know there's a force to join with that will firmly oppose this program. Malcolm Shore writes in "What Now - The Difference Four Years Can Make" about what it means to have World Can't Wait on the political scene. It's more essential now than it has ever been that we be out among people with a sober, clear reality to help people see the responsibility we who live in this country have now.

We are a minority. We have a responsibility to act on what we know to be true. Our strength can be an anchor to others, as they discover the program they will be forced to accept, or resist.

We will be here, organizing a movement of resistance with a realistic aim -- to bring these crimes and this whole direction to a stop. To those who are disoriented, I say, "If you don't want to join us now, remember us and join us when it does become clear to you that the crimes of your government have to be stopped. Then, join with the kind of movement that CAN make that happen."

Only the independent action of the people can create the conditions where those in power can be forced to act in accordance with our demands. This is the change we can believe in.

Stop thinking like an American, and start thinking like someone who cares for the whole planet.

Chris writes in his piece today, "I am haunted by hundreds of memories of violence and trauma. I have abandoned, because I no longer cover these conflicts, many I care about. They live in Gaza, Baghdad, Jerusalem, Beirut, Kabul and Tehran. They cannot vote in our election. They will, however, bear the consequences of our decision. Some, if the wars continue, may be injured or killed. The quest for justice is not about being practical. It is required by the bonds we share. They would do no less for me."

I'll write when we know the outcome of the election and on further plans, and hope you do the same!

Debra Sweet, Director, The World Can't Wait - Drive Out the Bush Regime