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I’m Sorry, I’m not voting for Obama

November 3, 2008

An Open Letter to Obama Supporters
by Zach Roberts

Originally posted on my GNN blog
It pains me to say that I cannot vote with history. I will not be able to say to my children that I voted for the first Black president like many of you will. My vote is much too sacred to me to give to a man I cannot trust.

I will not be voting for Barack Obama or his opponent Republican John McCain. I frankly don’t know who I’ll be pulling the lever for.

History, hope and the buzzword ‘change,’ these are not reasons to vote for a president, especially not in a time such as now.

During his primary campaign Barack Obama claimed that he would listen to his supporters. He claimed that he would filibuster FISA (the bill that allows wiretapping of US citizens) and when the time came to fight, he didn’t even show up. This was his moment to win me over. This was his High Noon in the capitol rotunda, but in this feature Gary Cooper didn’t even show up.

At that moment, and many others throughout the campaign (NAFTA, ACORN etc.) I saw Obama for who he was, just another frightened politician who when given a moment to show his true colors exposed himself to be yellow. I’m tired of these leaders, Democrat and Republican. They play on real people’s hopes and fears and use them for their own political ambition.

Obama has caught the moment, he’ll win tomorrow, probably by a landslide. Our hope for a great leader, I guess, is once again out-shined by the reality of “good-enough.” President Obama will continue the war in Afghanistan, continue NAFTA and CAFTA. All the while we will continue to kindly ask our dear great leader to listen to us. It will be a democracy, as we’ve had for decades, maybe a bit closer to our hopes but still mostly kept for our dreams.

Robert F. Kennedy was known to say of moral courage that is was “a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence.”  He also said that is was “the one essential, vital quality of those who seek to change a world which seeks most painfully to change.”

Why are we still looking for moral courage 40 years after Mr. Kennedy’s death? I do not see this in Sen. Barack Obama. I do not see this in the men and women that he keeps around him. But I do see this courage for the first time in years in the eye’s of a Democratic candidates supporters even though I do not count myself among them.

This gives me hope that my generation, the one born under Reagan, will be able to stop the mourning and build something new together.

On Nov. 5th when Sen. Obama becomes President-Elect Obama let’s not let the movement stop. We must pick up where are leaders are lacking, we must become the hope and change that we dream of.

Let’s make this next four years, as one of Bobby Kennedy’s favorite books described the 60’s – “one of those periods of hope and endeavor which now and again light up the dark passages of history.”

Do not expect history to write itself.


Zach Roberts currently works with BBC journalist Greg Palast. He has researched and co-produced several of his BBC/Democracy Now! investigations which are on DVD including Big Easy to Big Empty, The Election Files and Big Easy to Big Empty (available on DVD at

Roberts edited Greg Palast and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s investigative comic “Steal Back Your Vote!” which is available as a free download at

Currently he is working on two pieces (for film and print) on the economy and looking for takers. Contact zdroberts (at) for more info.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. rippost permalink
    November 4, 2008 10:27 pm

    Hi Zach,

    I read your post via my subscription to Palast’s feed.

    I understand what you’re saying and I understand it well. In 2000 I also faced the dilemma of weighing my desires, my intellect, my essence against what can be viewed as either a vote for selling out or pragmatism. It’s a dirty place to be.

    I voted for Nader. I live in Florida.

    I don’t necessarily buy into the idea that Nader “stole” the election that year. It’s clear who stole that election. To my mind, there is no debate. In 2000, I voted my conscience. In 2008, it remains a source of great conflict for me.

    I disagree, very respectfully, with your stance this election. I agree with your assessment of Obama on several points. Chief of these for me is his signing off on FISA. I’m also predictably disappointed with his address to, who was it, AIPAC? What happened to the man who had the guts to speak up for Palestinians?

    I can answer that, though it’s no more satisfactory than have been 8 years of Bush: the American political system.

    It’s no secret that we live in a one-party country, but I also think that the ideological differences between the two factions of the corporatist party are vital enough at this historical juncture to merit out attention. Obama’s self-proclaimed Friedman influence is worrisome, but let’s not confuse unbridled contard market worship with the more centrist approach that Obama [seems] to take. No, I’m not crazy about him either, but in reality…and it’s an icy one…our choice is that we have no choice.

    There is a time for compromise, and I can’t think of a more important time than now to seriously consider it. As that Nader voter I told you about, this sad dilemma is ours.

    In my heart of hearts and mind of minds, the only hope that I think Obama embodies is progress by increment; that we can perhaps retrieve, through those small but invaluable steps, social and economic justice from inside the rotting carcass of death dealing swindlers and mad men. It’s not a pretty thought, but as a pragmatist, I can only say that at least we’re not dealing with a man who deals only in ultimatums.

    I’m not trying to convince you to go against your conviction, but as that Nader voter, I thought I’d share my experience with you.

    We will not give up. We will fight. Perhaps Obama’s greatest strength is his pragmatism in identifying that he cannot sell progressive idealism to the American public at this point in history, and in that, when elected, maybe he’ll pleasantly surprise us by returning to that conviction we once saw in him.

  2. November 5, 2008 3:00 am

    All I know is that Nader tells the truth, for all the good that brings us 😉

    Zach, Greg & RFK’s work has been amazing to bring back dignity to what’s left of the voting system.

    As for democracy, well, that’s a different story…

    If this executive branch gets away with treason & war crimes with a president pardon or whatever mindfuck they can muster, I fail to grasp the so called change we are suppose to be all soooo excited about.

    “The essence of oligarchical rule is not father-to-son inheritance, but the persistence of a certain world-view and a certain way of life … A ruling group is a ruling group so long as it can nominate its successors… Who wields power is not important, provided that the hierarchical structure remains always the same.”: George Orwell, 1984

  3. Laura permalink
    November 5, 2008 8:58 am


    I stumbled upon your post looking for ideas on what to do now. I just wanted to say thanks so much for writing this!

  4. rippost permalink
    November 5, 2008 11:53 pm


    I agree. Nader does tell the truth and I have tremendous respect for him. But that damn truth telling habit he’s got is precisely why he can’t survive the American political landscape. That doesn’t get me all wet or anything, by the way, but it’s a reality.

    I mean, let’s face it. True progressive are rather finely fucked in a lot of ways.

  5. November 17, 2008 4:53 pm


    Nader got 1% …

    It has never mattered to me that thirty million people might think I’m wrong. The number of people who thought Hitler was right did not make him right… Why do you necessarily have to be wrong just because a few million people think you are? – Frank Zappa

    Forget Red vs. Blue — It’s the Educated vs. People Easily Fooled by Propaganda. Millions of Americans live in a non-reality-based belief system informed by childish clichés – they can barely differentiate between lies and truth.

    We live in two Americas. One America, now the minority, functions in a print-based, literate world. It can cope with complexity and has the intellectual tools to separate illusion from truth. The other America, which constitutes the majority, exists in a non-reality-based belief system. This America, dependent on skillfully manipulated images for information, has severed itself from the literate, print-based culture. It cannot differentiate between lies and truth. It is informed by simplistic, childish narratives and cliches. It is thrown into confusion by ambiguity, nuance and self-reflection. This divide, more than race, class or gender, more than rural or urban, believer or nonbeliever, red state or blue state, has split the country into radically distinct, unbridgeable and antagonistic entities.

    There are over 42 million American adults, 20 percent of whom hold high school diplomas, who cannot read, as well as the 50 million who read at a fourth- or fifth-grade level. Nearly a third of the nation’s population is illiterate or barely literate. And their numbers are growing by an estimated 2 million a year. But even those who are supposedly literate retreat in huge numbers into this image-based existence. A third of high school graduates, along with 42 percent of college graduates, never read a book after they finish school. Eighty percent of the families in the United States last year did not buy a book.

    By Chris Hedges, Truthdig.–_it's_the_educated_vs._people_easily_fooled_by_propaganda/

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