Presidential Primary Election Choices?


By Hugh Turley


The U.S. presidential election resembles the recent presidential race in Yemen.  On February 21, Yemen elected President Abdurabu Mansur Hadi, the former Vice President under longtime ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh.   Hadi was the only candidate on the ballot.    On April 3, Barack Obama will be the only presidential candidate for the Democratic Party in the Maryland primary.

One might think at least one person in the Democratic Party would challenge President Obama for continuing the Patriot Act and breaking his promise to close the Guantanamo prison.   Where are the 2008 anti-war candidates Ralph Nader and Dennis Kucinich after Obama has expanded President Bush’s wars into Pakistan, Libya, and Yemen?

On the Republican side, the media has narrowed the field by giving most attention to Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, although Newt Gingrich has vowed to stay in until the party convention in August.  None are likely to be accused of being a “dove.” 

Democrats and Republicans who oppose war and a police state may think they have a choice in Ron Paul.  But it’s a magician’s choice – meaning there is no choice, only the illusion of one.

Unlike candidates who walk into a busy restaurant to appear with a crowd Paul has genuine popular support.  But strangely, he seems to avoid his supporters.  On February 20, Presidents Day, some 2,000 military veterans who support Ron Paul marched from the Washington Monument to the White House to rally against the wars.  Some came from as far away as Detroit.

But not Paul, who is himself an antiwar military veteran.

Earlier in the month, Paul skipped the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C., where he had won the presidential straw poll two years in a row.  Sales were brisk at Daniel Williams’ booth selling Ron Paul swag and button salesman Frank Enten, who has attended every CPAC convention said, “Ron Paul buttons are my best seller, with Romney a close second.”

This year, when it matters most, the popular favorite did not show up or even have a booth in the exhibit hall like the other candidates.  Romney, Gingrich, and Santorum all spoke at the convention.  Romney won the straw poll this year, with the absent Paul finishing dead last, even behind Gingrich, with only 12% of the vote.  Is Paul really a serious candidate?

In Yemen the paper ballot had only a picture of Hadi with a circle next to it for the voters to mark.  The America press dutifully reported the election of Yemen’s new president complete with images of people lined up to vote at the polls.   Why vote when there is no choice?

American elections provide a better appearance of choice.  In November Americans choose between two candidates who will continue the same Middle East policy, wars, Patriot Act, searches of citizens, and indefinite detentions. 

Voters in neither the U.S. nor Yemen have any real choice.  But at least in Yemen they don’t pretend to.   ________________________________________________________________________________________

This article appeared originally in the March 2012 Hyattsville (MD) Life & Times.  It is reprinted here with their permission.

See also “Ron Paul’s CPAC and Virginia Cop-outs.”


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