I didn't watch the last debate and was surprised to find that I just didn't want to. (I watched all the Republican primary debates and I was excited to watch the first two between Obama and Romney. I usually love this stuff.) I thought I was probably just reluctant to stay up till 11 when 9 is my bedtime, or that I was burned out and needed a break from worrying about the election. I taped it and thought I'd watch it Tuesday, starting earlier so I could get to bed early.
But even on Tuesday I still didn't want to watch it, and I realized why: it was the foreign policy debate and I didn't want to watch Obama boast one more time about how he "took out" Bin Laden. I didn't want to watch all the strutting and posturing about our strong military and how you don't mess with Americans or you get your ass kicked.
I'm trying to feel good about Obama. I think it's important to get him elected because Republicans with free reign are obviously worse. It's hard not to be heartened by Obama's reluctant, but still breathtakingly frank, support of LGBT rights. But when you start talking about foreign policy - besides the fact that at least if we elect Obama we don't have to be embarrassed about our president like during those interminable eight years of Bush - when you start talking about foreign policy, you land smack-dab in the middle of everything about Obama's administration that makes me want to vote for the Green Party.
I felt good about voting for Obama in 2008. Really good. I was confident that, though it's never going to be a perfect fit, his worldview overlapped with mine about as closely as you could expect from a guy running for president.
I should say that I had similar feelings when I voted for Clinton in 1992, but I hadn't done my research. If I'd looked at Clinton's biography more closely I think it would have been clear that he wasn't to be trusted. With Obama, I made a point to be better informed, and nothing in his background indicated that he would seize the power to detain people indefinitely without trial or to kill American citizens suspected but not convicted of "terrorism." Nothing prepared me for his enthusiasm for drone strikes that "take out" civilians including children.
I'll admit I'm a peacenik. I'd prefer to live in a world where people weren't constantly killing and maiming each other like dogs fighting over who gets to control the backyard. It's heartbreakingly stupid how this just goes on and on and people think that perpetuating it (if we just kill this bad guy...) will somehow make it stop. It's immature and it's stupid. But I understand that we don't live in that world, and that most people think it's absolutely crucial to continue killing people all over the world.
One of the things people elect presidents to do is to fight wars. I'm not naïve.
But this new executive power to basically kill anyone anywhere in the world with no checks and balances crosses a line for me. To be honest, it disgusts me.
Lately, we liberals spend a lot of time aghast at "what's become of the Republican party," what with "legitimate rape," etc. But can we spend a little time pondering what's become of the Democrats? This stuff strikes me as much more insidious because Democrats have a reputation for being more reasonable, compassionate, and educated than your average Chick-fil-A Tea Party hillbilly.
I can't imagine how depressing, how horrifying, a Romney presidency would be. So I support Obama in this election. Because the polls are so close, the enthusiasm of "the base" is important. We need every vote.
So we put aside our objections for the time being. During the election season, we try not to talk about drones. We try not to get into conversations about detention and execution without trial. But ignoring these things in order to re-elect a president so that he can continue to do them (because we have not objected, after all) is a moral compromise I have a very hard time making. It's a dilemma.
(Debate graphic via Bigstock)