I got in an argument tonight with a friend about whether it is worth it to vote for Obama, whether he will represent anything like progressive action in this country and whether, if he won't, it is worth voting against McCain. There are a number of arguments on both sides. Obama has a "squishy" record on NAFTA, for instance (David Sirota, openleft.com), switching his stance on the issue numerous times. Obama gets most of his funding from law organizations, a large chunk of change from hedge funds, and a not insignificant amount (although half of the Republican amount) from tobacco. Nor does Obama take the firm anti-war, anti-military stance that many on the left desire (and it's one thing we will never get). On the other hand, Obama's health care plan is vastly superior to McCain's, his positions on engaging in large superpower conflict are far less hysterical, his position on education is far more productive, and if global warming is at all important to you then you shouldn't even have second thoughts about voting Obama. Also, for those leftists who have a strong interest in Latin America, it should be hastily pointed out that Obama is unique among leaders of European or Anglo-Saxon nations in not jumping on the coattails of Uribe and even going so far as to confront the Uribe government with its violations of human rights (while France is still giddy about the rescue of Irene Betancourt). Will Obama make miracles? Obviously not. I wouldn't expect miracles of Nader, either. I feel that the left who reject Obama on the grounds that he is not radical enough for them are making a grave error. I have no doubt that, had the European Left had a second chance following the victories of Fascism in the first half of the twentieth century, they would have made a concerted effort to ally themselves with Social Democrats rather than let the Fascists have a solid victory.
About a half hour after my argument, I found the following videos online, and I felt extremely vindicated. Both Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn are voting for Obama and recommend others do the same. They are both, particularly Chomsky, more cynical than myself about the potential of an Obama presidency, but as Chomsky says, "People treat voting for the lesser of two evils as a bad thing. Maybe that's because of the way it is phrased. It's not a bad thing. It's a good thing."