Friday, July 11, 2008

A few weeks ago, I finally joined MyBarackObama just so I could join the 'Senator Obama - Please Vote NO on Telecom Immunity - Get FISA Right' group. I muchly favour Obama over McCain and Hillary. I figured I'd also donate a bit of money to him iff he got it right.

Apparently, somehow the registering failed and I didn't join the group. Fail. But at least my fail wasn't epic. Obama's was.

If you live in the US, you should be aware that Obama said that he 'unequivocally opposes giving retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies' and that he would 'not be among those voting to end the filibuster'. And he didn't vote to end the filibuster--he was absent from the vote, even though he 'supports a filibuster of this bill, and strongly urges others to do the same'--but he did vote FOR the FISA Amendment Act, a bill giving retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies. Gee, that phrase seems familiar.

Voting for the FAA would have done next to nothing to directly harm popular opinion of Obama. It would signify that he's not a rightwing nutjob, but most people had figured that out. Fewer than 40% of Americans (or even 40% of conservatives!) supported telecom immunity. The 30-something% who support it probably aren't too keen on Obama anyway, so he wouldn't be losing their support. Presumably he's hoping for a big payout from the telecom industry. Or maybe he thinks he needs the support of Democratic politicians, who are apparently more rightwing than the average Republican voter (probably they get their money from the telecoms, wherewas the voters don't). But those guys will support him anyway because 1) he's their candidate and 2) they want to hitch a ride on his coattails into office.

Telecom immunity isn't the most important thing in the world, to me. I care more about the government telling companies to violate our rights than companies saying 'Okay. Sounds like fun!' But it's still a big deal. Even bigger, though, is saying repeatedly and specifically that you will strongly oppose telecom immunity and then voting in favour of it.

It's sensible that Obama is moving to the centre. The standard winning move is to appeal to your base in the primaries and move to centre for the general election, and I'm completely fine with him doing that. Sure, his supporters are liberal, but the change Obama has been promising is that he's the un-Rove, and that's what we care about the most--being centrist is good.

The left-to-centre shift, however, cannot rightly be done by making specific promises to appeal to the base and then switching to the opposite position. Work out a compromise (which the FISA Amendment Act was absolutely not) and throw a bone to the right/centre where you wisely avoided making specific promises. Don't reverse on earlier promises, especially those that are both specific and important to your base.

I still favour Obama over McCain (it's the economy, stupid), but we don't win by getting someone from the Democratic Party elected. We win by forcing that person to do what was promised. Most of his supports seem to have already let him slide on one major, major issue (campaign finance). We'd have to be pretty pathetic to let him continue to lie to us over and over again. Supporters of Obama should be the first and most vocal critics when he breaks his promises, because those promises were made to us to get our support, not to McCain and his supporters.

I guess one of my fails was epic. I failed to notice that 'change' is a synonym for 'flip-flop'. Obama, it's a shame you're not getting any public financing, 'cause you won't be getting any of my money either, and you won't get my vote either if you don't get your act together.

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