Opinion: Obama: because who else, really?



Tyler Kieslich

Tyler Kieslich

Tyler Kieslich is a sophomore news major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]

I think it’s not unsafe to say that with my work at the Stater, I’ve carved out a comfortable niche as the guy who doesn’t like anything. I’ve written at length about how I think hierarchical social structures are immoral, how American republicanism and democracy is an alienating exercise in futility and how capitalism is a pervasive system that destroys and degrades without an inkling of warmth or human understanding.

I try to embrace political radicalism and socialism in the same sense that Howard Zinn did: earnestly, without stigma. Governments who try to use capitalism to protect subjects from the darkest aspects of capitalism are certainly preferable to the alternative, but there isn’t anything inherently wrong with believing that the only way to fix the problems caused by the economic and political construct is to change the construct fundamentally.

This all being said, I think it goes without saying that I think the binary two-party system does a lot more harm than good for this country. On any given issue, you are either for or against, one way or the other; as a country, we don’t give credence to all the shades of gray that exist between far right and left of center.

Sure, Jill Stein and Gary Johnson will be on the presidential ballot Tuesday. Johnson might convince a few thousand diehard libertarians and marijuana enthusiasts to vote for him, and Stein seems to be the result everyone I know gets when they take an online “who should I vote for?” quiz. But the system isn’t just stacked against them. It ignores them entirely.

As an individual, I might be more represented by someone like Stein, and I might even vote for her if I lived somewhere else. But as an Ohioan, where Barack Obama has a real chance to lose (and where it could cost him the election), I can’t afford such a self-indulgent act.

I know Stein has no chance of earning a single electoral vote; voting for her does nothing for me but serve as a personal pat on the back, while opening up the very real possibility that this time next year Mitt Romney will be wearing his magic underpants in the Oval Office.

This is why I am voting for Obama. Not because our ideological makeups match up perfectly, though I agree with him more than I disagree. And not because his term was without disappointment for me: The public option was left at the cutting-room floor of “Obamacare”; Guantanamo was never shut down as was promised; an administration which initially promised to decriminalize marijuana became the most aggressively anti-marijuana administration in history; and drone strikes in the middle east continue to kill innocent people without any semblance of congressional or constitutional consent.

But Obama pragmatism is admirable. Our intervention in Libya deposed a despot while a cash-strapped and hapless Europe, either unable or unwilling to deal with the problem itself, stood and watched. Most objective economists agree that the stimulus spending saved both the auto industry and major financial institutions. On a moral level, that was questionable — but even as a budding ideologue, I know that the best we can hope for is someone who plays the best hand with the cards that are dealt.