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Hullabaloo


Saturday, October 20, 2012

 
Cornel West with great sanity and perspective for unhappy progressives

by David Atkins

Longtime Administration critic Cornel West has some words for those who plan to stage a "protest" vote against Obama over drones, kill lists, Wall Street policies and like: vote to stop the right-wing takeover in November, then protest the President in February. (Actually, the time to protest is likely in mid-November no matter who wins; I'm not sure Mr. West understands the legislative sequence of Simpson Bowles and the fiscal cliff, but that's a minor nitpick.)

After the polls swung in Romney’s favor after the first debate, did you reconsider your criticism of President Obama?
We have to prevent a Romney takeover of the White House. No doubt about that. It would be very dangerous in terms of actual lives and actual deaths of the elderly and the poor. Those people who are dependent on various programs would have to deal with the ugly damage of the further redistribution of wealth from the poor and working people to the well off.

Right. But doesn’t criticizing Obama make all that bad stuff you just said more likely to happen?
I’m strategic. We have to tell that truth about a system that’s corrupt—both parties are poisoned by big money and tied to big banks and corporations. Speaking on that is a matter of intellectual integrity. American politics are not a matter of voting your moral conscience—if I voted my moral conscience it would probably be for Jill Stein. But it's strategic in terms of the actual possibilities and real options available for poor and working people.

So voting for Obama is good strategy given the realities of the world?
A Romney administration would be a catastrophic response to an already catastrophic condition. I still get in a lot of trouble with my left-wing comrades on this—that I would still support Obama winning while continuing to tell the truth about drones dropping bombs on innocent people, which I consider war crimes, about the Wall Street government, about the refusal to close Guantanamo, about [section] 1021 of the National Authorization Act where you can detain citizens without trial or even assassinate citizens based on the decisions of the executive branch. All of those things to me are morally obscene. It’s a matter of telling that truth, strategically. I think we have to ensure that we don’t have a takeover by conservative right-wing or we’re in a world of trouble...

What happens if and when President Obama is re-elected?
Well I hope he wins because Romney is so dangerous. But when he wins, the hard work only intensifies. We'll still need to critique US foreign policy and the worshiping of Wall Street. Let's start treating workers the way you treat bankers and have loans available to students the way they're available to banks at zero percent interest.

Do you think Obama will be different?
There might be a possibility that he starts to tilt towards main street rather than Wall Street, but we’ll see who he chooses to surround himself with. When you choose Geitner and Summers, you’re sending pretty strong signs that this is going to be a Wall Street-friendly government. But we’ll have to see and we’ll keep putting pressure on him. The important thing to recognize is that when he does win, the work begins all over again in terms of pressing for issues that will be critical of the system that he runs.
Cornel West is a pretty smart guy.


(h/t Anne Laurie)


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