Voting For Hope

Every day my email is deluged with “urgent” pronouncements from a broad spectrum of groups and individuals begging me to take a little more of my time, to exercise my “last chance” to show my support for Barack Obama. Local politicians who have in the past and in normal circumstances would, relegate any topic I might deem important into the oblivion of an endless hierarchy of “assistants” for classification and consideration, have suddenly become my dearest friends, addressing me by phone or e-mail on a first name basis and asking for my “help” in THE cause. Conversely, in the antithetical Bizzaro World of John McCain I am certain his supporters, must receive a similar electronic garbage heap of junk mail warning of the apocalyptic advent of “government handouts ”the socialistic” spreading of the wealth, and a general creeping liberalism.

I am a disabled combat veteran. I personally find nothing ennobling patriotic, nor honorable in the interventions and occupations which have defined my country’s history to the present moment. Forty years of reflection has not yet been time enough to construct an acceptable justifications for the images I carry. I still see the disembowelment of a Vietnamese Grandfather at the arm of his pre-teen grandson, the mutilation and dismemberment of two twenty year old (my own age at the time) “VC”( whose body parts were subsequently thrown into a holding compound containing their female relatives), and several human beings transformed before my eyes into living torches as their flesh was consumed by napalm. It has been calculated that for every “Viet Cong” killed, 50,000 rounds were fired. In the urban sequel to Vietnam, the occupation of Iraq, those figures have climbed to 250,000 rounds per “insurgent”. If it takes only one bullet to kill another human being and we generously allow as high as 100 rounds per insurgent (allowing for over achievement), one obvious question is raised, “What has happened to the remaining 249,900 rounds?” This of course, is an unfair and leading question. We know 250,000 represents a proportion of total rounds fired to the number of “legitimate” dead insurgents. (Which, incidentally aren’t officially counted for the very reason that their numbers can be misconstrued in writing such as this.) None the less these rounds are fired and unlike America’s much touted “smart bombs” small caliber ammunition resides at the low end of the munitions evolutionary chain. Lacking a visible target they do not fall harmlessly to the ground but follow a trajectory until they lose momentum or encounter an impenetrable obstacle.

Imagine yourself for a moment, living within a war zone, part and parcel of an occupation by a foreign army. You have learned to live with shortages, not to jump at every loud sound, trying as best you can to carry on with life in some abstract aberration of what you remember as “normal.” Every day you hope that it will all end, that these foreigners will depart, that you will once again have lights and perhaps even running water. You hope that the shops will re-open and hope that your children might one day safely return to school. You think of these things as you prepare the evening meal for your family. Your young son and infant daughter entertain one another safely within your sight on a rug in the kitchen. Your parents, whose own home was destroyed in fighting early on in the war, wait for dinner with visiting relatives in another room of the house. Somewhere outside, you hear the sound of approaching gunfire. As the fighting grows louder you instinctively take your daughter in your arms, place your son at your side and find protective cover behind an inside kitchen wall. Several of the “less-than-smart” 249, 900 rounds which “miss” the insurgents are being fired by a 50 caliber machine gun mounted atop an American Humvee. These rounds have been enhanced to give American soldiers an “edge” in the war on terror by the addition of depleted uranium. They now have the ability to penetrate nearly anything, including armor. They have little trouble cutting through the cinder blocks of your apartment and the wall you believed would protect you. The skull of your infant daughter is instantly atomized to a fine red mist of blood and bone. A second round removes your sons arm just above the elbow leaving a stump of shattered bone and torn strips of flesh. As dust settles and noise abates you find yourself sitting, physically unharmed on the floor of your kitchen, bathed in the blood of your children. Somewhere it will be mentioned that several insurgents were killed in your city by the American coalition forces. Your personal story will be condensed to an acknowledgement that there was some unavoidable collateral damage.

For each conservative who votes for the get tough policies of John McCain, the blood of every victim of every war, present and future, soldier and civilian, in which America participates lies directly upon your hands. If you are of the “old school,” old testament , eye for and eye system of beliefs, keep in mind this law applies reciprocally to you as well. Your soldiers and your armies have illegally invaded the homeland of another sovereign nation and you are deserving of whatever vengeance is brought upon you. You have created and perpetuated your own “terrorism.” If you are a liberal and have at any time claimed the moral high ground of being anti-war, all that will be visited upon your conservative brothers and sisters will become yours as well, perhaps doubly so as you have transformed your beliefs into hypocrisy. Only two candidates have been given visibility in the coming elections although others are running. Both of these have stated publicly their determination to stay the course in Iraq. McCain has expressed his desire to amplify the killing by invading Iran as well. Both will escalate the number of American troops illegally occupying Afghanistan to “bring the war” to the Saudi Arabian, Bin Laden. Obama has ramped up the mythical “War on Terror” threatening to invade Pakistan if necessary, while at the same time promising to continue the drone bombings of rural mountain villages.

When you vote, you transfer your power as a citizen to those who would claim to represent you. In war the imaginary scenario painted above is very real and plays out in the lives of innocents daily. To vote for a candidate who supports war is to vote in support of war. All non-combatants murdered while your candidates, liberal or conservative exercise your power become in turn, your victims. You have funded the weapons, trained the soldiers, provided the transport and approved the mission which for all soldiers in all wars has historically been same: Kill the “enemy” before they kill you.” In guerrilla war this necessarily includes the murder of ten times as many non-combatant innocents as those we would define as “enemy. Remember, as you vote for Hope, you more deservedly “earn” the World’s contempt.

T.E. Origer is a disability retired USMC combat veteran of America's War in Vietnam. He attributes many of his political views to his experiences in one of the largest socialist organizations in the country, the United States Marine Corps. He can be reached for comment at: Read other articles by T.E..

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  1. bozhidar bob balkas said on November 3rd, 2008 at 12:05pm #

    amers in iraq,afgh’n r illegal immigrants. but armed so well, they’l stay there for a long time:decades, centuries.
    pashtuns cannot be viewed as illegal immigrants; however, because of the extant powers, they r treated as illegal migrants. thnx

  2. Tom said on November 3rd, 2008 at 1:26pm #

    Exactly… so don’t delude yourself into thinking Obama is an anti-war candidate. His record speaks volumes. There are more than two choices.

    “1/26/05: Obama voted to confirm Condoleezza Rice for Secretary of State. Rice was largely responsible…for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent victims in unnecessary wars…Roll call 2”

    “2/01/05: Obama was part of a unanimous consent agreement not to filibuster the nomination of lawless torturer Alberto Gonzales as chief law enforcement officer of the United States (U.S. Attorney General).”

    “2/15/05: Obama voted to confirm Michael Chertoff, a proponent of water-board torture… man behind the round-up of thousands of people of Middle-Eastern descent following 9/11. By Roll call 10.”

    “4/21/05: Obama voted to make John ‘Death Squad’ Negroponte the National Intelligence Director. In Central America, John Negroponte was connected to death squads that murdered nuns and children in sizable quantities. He is suspected of instigating death squads while in Iraq, resulting in the current insurgency. Instead of calling for Negroponte’s prosecution, Obama rewarded him by making him National Intelligence Director. Roll call 107”

    “4/21/05: Obama voted for HR 1268, war appropriations in the amount of approximately $81 billion. Much of this funding went to Blackwater USA and Halliburton and disappeared. Roll call 109 ”

    “7/01/05: Obama voted for H.R. 2419, termed ‘The Nuclear Bill’ by environmental and peace groups. It provided billions for nuclear weapons activities, including nuclear bunker buster bombs. It contains full funding for Yucca Mountain, a threat to food and water in California, Nevada, Arizona and states across America. Roll call 172 .”

    “9/26/05 & 9/28/05: Obama failed and refused to place a hold on the nomination of John Roberts, a supporter of permanent detention of Americans without trial, and of torture and military tribunals for Guantanamo detainees.”

    “10/07/05: Obama voted for HR2863, which appropriated $50 billion in new money for war. Roll call 2 .”

    “11/15/05: Obama voted for continued war, again. Roll call 326 was the vote on the Defense Authorization Act (S1042) which kept the war and war profiteering alive, restricted the right of habeas corpus and encouraged terrorism. Pursuant to his pattern, Obama voted for this. .”

    “12/21/05: Obama confirmed his support for war by voting for the Conference Report on the Defense Appropriations Act (HR 2863), Roll call 366, which provided more funding to Halliburton and Blackwater. ”

    “5/2/06: Obama voted for money for more war by voting for cloture on HR 4939, the emergency funding to Halliburton, Blackwater and other war profiteers. Roll call 103 .”

    “5/4/06: Obama, again, voted to adopt HR4939: emergency funding to war profiteers. Roll call 112 .”

    “6/13/06: Obama voted to commend the armed services for a bombing that killed innocent people and children and reportedly resulted in the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi… Michael Berg, whose son was reportedly killed by al-Zarqawi, condemned the attack and expressed sorrow over the innocent people and children killed in the bombing that Obama commended. Roll call 168 .”

    “6/15/06: Obama voted for the conference report on HR4939, a bill that gave warmongers more money to continue the killing and massacre of innocent people in Iraq and allows profiteers to collect more money for scamming the people of New Orleans. Roll Call 171 .”

    “6/15/06: Obama, again, opposed withdrawal of the troops, by voting to table a motion to table a proposed amendment would have required the withdrawal of US. Armed Forces from Iraq and would have urged the convening of an Iraq summit (S Amdt 4269 to S. Amdt 4265 to S2766) Roll Call 174 ”

    “6/22/06: Obama voted against withdrawing the troops by opposing the Kerry Amendment (S. Amdt 4442 to S 2766) to the National Defense Authorization Act. The amendment, which was rejected, would have brought our troops home. Roll Call 181 ”

    “6/22/06: Obama voted for cloture (the last effective chance to stop) on the National Defense Authorization Act (S 2766), which provided massive amounts of funding to defense contractors to continue the killing in Iraq. Roll Call 183.”

    “6/22/06: Obama again voted for continued war by voting to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (S 2766) for continued war funding. Roll Call 186 .

    “9/7/06: Obama voted to give more money to profiteers for more war (H..R. 5631). Roll Call 239 ”

    “9/29/06: Obama voted vote for the conference report on more funding for war, HR 5631. Roll Call 261 .”

    “11/16/06: Obama voted for nuclear proliferation in voting to pass HR 5682, a bill to exempt the United States-India Nuclear Proliferation Act from requirements of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954. Roll Call 270 .”

    “12/06/06: Obama voted to confirm pro-war Robert M. Gates to be Secretary of Defense. Gates is a supporter of Bush’s policies of pre-emptive war and conquest of foreign countries. Roll Call 272 ”

  3. Ms. DeJesus said on November 3rd, 2008 at 2:03pm #

    Good point!

  4. Ms. DeJesus said on November 3rd, 2008 at 2:04pm #

    unfortunately at this point in the election its going to be either Obama or McCain regardless of whether we vote for one of them or not…..

  5. Deadbeat said on November 3rd, 2008 at 8:47pm #

    Tom writes a list of votes by Obama for the continuation of the War on Iraq and it is a very good list indeed. It is a reminder of how politics work in the U.S. However I disagree with the implication that U.S. citizens are so “free” that they have a viable alternative.

    Why not deal in reality and state the obvious that voting for Obama at best is a “lesser evil” vote to keep McCain out of the White House.

    I really don’t understand why anyone thinks that there are viable alternatives in the 2008 election. I would rather see writers suggest voting against Obama as a protest vote on principles.
    At least that is more honest since voting against Obama, if this election is close, could tilt it towards McCain.

    Once again I come back to 2004 where there was a REAL opportunity to make a difference toward a viable third party alternative. That opportunity was squandered and now in 2008 there is no such opportunity.

  6. TiradeFaction said on November 4th, 2008 at 6:47am #

    “At least that is more honest since voting against Obama, if this election is close, could tilt it towards McCain.”

    Only if you’re in a swing state, solid state’s are free to help build up third party or alternative candidates, which would be pragmatic given that’s how third parties have influenced politics in American history.

    This youtube video puts it best. Want a better Obama presidency? Don’t vote for him!

  7. Martha said on November 4th, 2008 at 8:49am #

    Tom, hopefully I speak for many DV readers, but you really should have an article here. Your comments are always worth reading.

  8. t.e.Origer said on November 4th, 2008 at 9:16am #

    Deadbeat: I agree that voting for any other than the two candidates provided, at this time, in this election will accomplish little other than moral peace of mind. But when is the time to choose the alternative to the “lesser of evils.” I was not old enough to vote until I returned from Vietnam, and “the lesser of evils” is all I have been offered from that day to this. Naomi Wolf, in her book “Give Me Liberty has offered a few insights and perhaps even a little hope regarding my own perceptions as to what I had once believed America to be. I think the power for change still resides with us if we find the courage to exercise it. What would the outcome of this election have been had everyone who was against war voted for a candidate who did not support war? Fear is our greatest enemy. Dissident Peace TEO

  9. Max Shields said on November 5th, 2008 at 10:01am #

    Deadbeat, your points are consistent, I’ll give you that. But there the same ol talk that TEO has been hearing since the 60s/70s.

    Voting for Nader was an expression of voting FOR. You can belittle that as somehow not dealing with reality. When the boot is on your head you can lay there and say, well, it’s just reality on my head; or you can do something (anything) to remove it.

    If there are people who voted FOR Obama well then they voted their conscience (even if based on ignorance). But to calculate a “lessor evil” you only perpetuate the very principle that this country and its political system has cyncially put in place for people who while disagreeing with nearly every position the candidates make, still vote for what’s on the ballot as a major, corporate, media sanctified candidate.

    A little courage is what this is about. Not playing mind games by demonizing one side vs the other. In ’04 the Repubs succeeded at this game. In ’08 it was the Dems who succeeded in it. And those who believe in something else – they lost regardless of who they felt they needed to vote for.

  10. bozhidar bob balkas said on November 5th, 2008 at 10:25am #

    i’v just posted s’mthing like this on motherjones:
    i do not personalize events. this is an ancient ruse, not only to personalize events (one or several people blamed/praised too much) but also to make simplicity out of complexity and complexity out of simplicity.
    govts come and go but governance remains. in US, we still have twotier jurisprudence, education, healthcare systems.
    US still has mercenary soldiers. most of which may be rural poor and undereducated/disinformed youths.
    is any of this gonna change even an iota or a tad more? maybe?!
    US wld still choose its enemies; gen’lly, enorm weaklings or evil empires wrought by euro’n evil empires in order to rule the disunited people living in such empires like afgh’n, iraq, p’kstan.
    killing/maiming of children in asia wld be blamed on their parents or justified as US defence of selfinterests.
    more cld be said. thnx

  11. Deadbeat said on November 5th, 2008 at 2:28pm #

    Deadbeat, your points are consistent, I’ll give you that. But there the same ol talk that TEO has been hearing since the 60s/70s. Voting for Nader was an expression of voting FOR.

    The vote for Nader was a vote for an independent “charismatic” candidate without any institutional base. Such a candidate is NOT a viable candidate. The last such candidate was Ross Perot however Perot possessed the resources to construct the Reform Party that was able to institutionally harness his base. Unfortunately, Nader possesses no such resources thus he was NEVER a viable candidate.

    Max, you can semantically term it anyway you want for emotional effect but it doesn’t do anything to alter the reality of Nader’s run in 2008. He had much stronger support during the interim after 2000 going into the 2004 election. Nader, had he been able to run as a Green in 2004, WAS a viable candidate who needed only to get on the ballot in all 50 states and obtain 5% of the vote after coming off of his 2.5% in 2000.

    Therefore Max for some strange reason you don’t see the difference between Nader’s potential in 2004 from his lack of potential in 2008.

    This it is not me doing the “belittling” Max. I have been keeping it real by focusing that the real problem which lies within the ranks of the Left.
    Unfortunately, the belittling has been your rhetoric and a lot of rhetoric coming from the Left belittling the common voters many of whom voted PRAGMATICALLY.

    And Max today we see once again how Zionism engulfs U.S. political economy with Obama selection of Rham Emmanuel as his Chief of Staff. Remember Max it has been YOU who has denied and obscured that Zionism is NOT a factor in U.S. politics rather than confront this problem. So if we want to talk about “boots” Max you need to take yours off.

    A little courage is what this is about. Not playing mind games by demonizing one side vs the other. In ‘04 the Repubs succeeded at this game. In ‘08 it was the Dems who succeeded in it. And those who believe in something else – they lost regardless of who they felt they needed to vote for.

    George Bush was clearly beatable in 2004. However Max I am not talking about “mindgames”. I’m talking about REAL POLITICS and REAL EVENTS that caused the Left to fail in 2008 due to their collapse and self destruction in 2004. Because the Left was so weak it was clearly not prepared to challenge the Obama Campaign.

    Perhaps Max YOU choose not to want to analyze, examine or reevaluate those failures that help weaken the Left and thereby create the void filled by the Obama campaign. However the election results bears this out. Nader only received, I haven’t seen the final tally, ~1% of the vote and McKinney came in last among the major third party candidates which doesn’t bode well for the Green Party and the Left.

    In fact because turnout was so huge the results could be considered a “rejection” of the Left. This is why analysis and assessment of the Left are important.

    It is obvious that Obama will clearly disappoint his base. That’s a no-brainer. But will you engage his massive support with enmity and disdain or with empathy and nuance. From some of the remarks I’ve seen here it’s going to be the former which IMO will be counterproductive and keeping the Left alienated from the masses needed to build a grassroots movement.

    The Obama election should be seen as a call for REFLECTION and a call to construct strategies that can build commonality and solidarity. Unfortunately from what I’ve seen over the past 12 years with the Left, I’m beginning to think that the Left enjoys its marginalization.

  12. Max Shields said on November 5th, 2008 at 2:56pm #

    Deadbeat, I’m not quarreling with your analysis. Reflection is good – essential. No, don’t confuse me with someone who is rejecting a close analysis of what needs to be done.

    We all know what Nader brought to the table. He did not bring a Party or a movement. No need to beat that into the ground. From an election perspective it was: do you vote for anyone? Nader, McKinney, Obama, McCain, Barr….? I voted for Nader. Why because of the choices Nader was not only on my ballot, but he reflects and speaks to an unequivocal understanding of the issues and what must desparately be addressed. McKinney was a very close second. She wasn’t on my ballot nor were any of the other “3rd” Party Presidential candidates.

    I voted FOR someone. I didn’t vote because I feared McCain, or because I’m a (D) rather than an (R) or because the financial market collapsed, or because one candidate was a white male and the other a black male (or female for that matter); I didn’t vote as a lessor evil calcuation, I didn’t vote for the guy I thought would be the winner, I didn’t vote for one of the two guys allowed in the national debates, I didn’t vote for more war, I didn’t vote for the one with the most/best 30 second ads, I didn’t vote for capital punishment, I didn’t vote for Israel over Palestinians, I didn’t vote for continued privatized /employer based health care, I didn’t vote for nuclear energy or “clean coal”, I didn’t vote for off-shore drilling; I didn’t vote to demonize Hugo Chavez or continue the Cuban embargo, I didn’t vote for a nice Obama t-shirt, I didn’t vote for the young guy with the wonderful smile, I didn’t vote for the guy who gives the best speech, I didn’t vote for the guy who got millions from corporate donars…

    But, Deadbeat, NOW, we can move on and discuss our future plans. Let’s not let Nader, the guy who gave us a shot at voting FOR something a poke in the eye because he didn’t create our movement for us or our Party for us. What the hell do you want out of one 72 year old man, who must have felt the pain of Obama’s disdainful neglect when he had no remorse for the Lebanese people who must daily live with splinter bombs from US made / Israel deployed unleashing war crimes. Nader is as you know of Lebanese heritage.

    Nader’s a man of peace. He’s not perfect. He’s obstinant and sometime stubborn – he’s a flesh and blood human being. He won’t probably run again. You coulda voted for him. You could have voted FOR something!! That’s my point.


  13. bozhidar bob balkas said on November 5th, 2008 at 3:25pm #

    yes, america needs a second party. even it consists of just a few thousands of members.
    a party, no matter how small, is better that any movement no matter how large it may be.
    but a party w. 2mn adherents is a powerful tool. a party is better organized than a movement. thnx

  14. bozhidar bob balkas said on November 5th, 2008 at 3:35pm #

    i know, people wld say, it’s movements that stopped lynching or ended segregation or even obtained basic schooling.
    sorry, i do not think so. ruling class of america was onside because it saw how beneficial mandatory schooling was for it. to obtain cannon fodder, basic schooling is of great use.
    it also saw no value accruing to it from slavery, segregation.
    as for the right to vote, it to is of profound utility for the ruling class. or as some people have noted, “If voting is of anyeffective significance, wldn’t it been made illegal long timme ago?” thnx

  15. bozhidar bob balkas said on November 5th, 2008 at 3:52pm #

    wldn’t drug usage be legal if the ruling class wanted it? by making street and home drugs illegal, the ruling class can wage yet another perpetual war.
    so as to appear as protector of amer values and as protecting non-drug users from bad people.
    but at the same time ruling class allows the drugs to come in. how else to explain that drugs get in.
    remember there may be at least 3mn cia, fbi, police, soldiers, surveillance of all kinds, customs officers, sniffing dogs.
    so what are they doing to minimize or stop the drugs from coming in?
    especially, when it is well known who grows, refines them and how they get in? drugs don’t come in on invisible flying carpets.
    and those, mostly richer folk, have drugs delivered to them?
    we cld even say that socalled wars on drugs and terror is really ab controling and subdueing domestic pop. thnx

  16. t.e.Origer said on November 6th, 2008 at 5:19am #

    Thanks Max I come from a similar place and my vote was not in protest but as you say FOR a candidate who shared my beliefs. I would really have enjoyed living in a “democracy” where I could have seen my candidate (Nader) express his views in a public forum with those against whom he was running. Perhaps, now that we have moved active duty military into the U.S. to participate in “crowd control” democracy is not far behind. And Bob, drugs are legal in the United States… all drugs…access is limited by class not legality. Move high enough up the social scale and there are no wars on “Terror” or “drugs” nor anything else for that matter other than those beneath you who try to take back what you have previously taken from them. Dissident Peace TEO

  17. bozhidar bob balkas said on November 6th, 2008 at 9:02am #

    t.i. origer,
    i may have not expressed self correctly. i was talking ab coccaine and heroin. both of these may be delivered to rich people in their homes.
    thus i called them home drugs. and as u also noted, there is no war on home drugs; only street drugs.
    aspirin, tylenol, et al r legal, of course. thnx for ur commemt. but did u mean bob or Bob? that cld have been then s’mone else.
    as an aside, socialist oft fail socialism, but socialism as a social structure will never evanesce.