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The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Why you should vote for someone else

By Sid Saikia

Following a week where everyone from the New York Times editors to the ex-Secretary of State who lied to the U.N. and the ex-White House spokesman who lied to everyone else has endorsed Barack Obama, I feel a word needs to be said against his measure and for the revelation that you actually can vote for somebody else (with the exception of the fairly incompetent John McCain). Domestically, I take issue with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Obama voted for in July that gave retroactive immunity to phone companies that performed warrant-less phone tapping on Americans. No biggie, right? How about the fact that every major telecommunications company from Verizon to AT&T (with the valiant exception of Qwest Network) has co-operated with the National Security Agency to the extent of having undisclosed NSA offices within their buildings? How about the fact that the terrorist watch list includes over one million people including, until recently, Nelson Mandela? For a politician with an exemplary record concerning civil liberties before the 2006-07 legislative season, this represents a change for Obama’s position rather than a change for this country.

Concerning foreign policy, Obama’s 5,000 word manifesto on “Renewing American Leadership” reeked of neo-conservatism in sheep’s clothing. He does not utter the word “withdrawal” from Iraq without catching it with “redeployment” and expansion of U.S. armed forces by at least 100,000. Furthermore, Obama has demonstrated a clear lack of understanding the situation in Pakistan (and, hence, in Afghanistan) with hawkish rhetoric of unilateral action in “taking the fight to the terrorists.” With the assassination of Bhutto and the ousting of Musharraf, Pakistan lies in a very precarious position. If the Pakistani Army moves into the Northwest Frontier Province (bordering Afghanistan) it would face an enormous backlash that would probably topple the weak government. Not to forget, this is also a country that has a number of nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Aggressively putting the Pakistani government between a rock and a nuclear bomb isn’t very suave. Forcing sovereign nations to prioritize America’s needs over their own does nothing for the U.S. image abroad that Obama has often pledged to correct.

With the current economic crisis, Obama has had to admit that huge spending projects he proposed at the beginning of his campaign might become unfeasible. Combine this with Noble Laureate Paul Krugman’s crushing critique of the economics of Obama’s health care plan and you’ll see that his economic credibility is only due to McCain’s incompetence in that department.

Now people will claim that despite these negatives (plus his stance on the drug war, lack of comprehensive immigration reform and reluctance in cutting military spending) there is a far worse evil lurking in John McCain, and I agree. However, with Obama taking double-digit poll leads and influential republicans flocking to his campaign, it seems there is only one outcome to this election (barring major voting fraud). So why not make your vote count for someone who better matches your political views.

I’ve lost hope in Nader, and Libertarian Party candidate Bob Barr has yet to convince me of his libertarian street cred. Thus the best option in my opinion is Green Party Candidate Cynthia McKinney. Even if you don’t entirely agree with her on all issues (and I don’t) here’s the golden catch: if the Green Party gets only 5 percent of the entire electorate vote, then it is declared a major party, given at least $18 million in campaign funding and invited to all of the presidential debates. Currently the Green Party has put up the few finances it has and fight both republican and democrat lawyers just to get on the ballot. With just 5 percent it can campaign broadly and gain the confidence of millions of people who are sick and tired of choosing the lesser evil rather than the actual good. Getting in on the debates allows the Green Party to spread their message to people who’ve never bothered to hear it fully. Finally, it has the potential to break the two-party system and bring actual, tangible and real change to these United States, not some swaggering rhetoric delivered under the phallic Siegess„ule in Berlin.

It is declared that you must make a decision. I am asking you to make a choice instead. You can vote to win the election for the Democrats, or you can vote for a better democracy.

Sid Saikia ’10 can be contacted at [email protected]

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