Conor Friedersdorf write an article in which he says Obama's track record on civil liberties is so poor that he can't bring himself to vote for him. This is read at Lawyers, Guns and Money as white person privilege, which is ironic, since the identifying factor of said privilege is over-concern for the people of Pakistan who have to live under the threat of drone strikes. Perhaps concern of a condescending nature would qualify as White Person Privilege, though one has to imagine that it would be difficult to separate from actual, non-condescending concern for the same people. The same article is then later analogized to the experience of a person who was so mad about welfare reform that they voted for Nader and not Gore, which, even though that vote made absolutely no difference in the outcome of the 2000 election, then becomes a source of regret and a point in favor of no one ever issuing a protest vote for any reason.

The author also seems unaware of the disanalogy between their case and the one Friedersdorf offers, which is not surprising because it doesn't focus on the strongest part of his case: not the drone strikes, but the 'kill list':

Obama established one of the most reckless precedents imaginable: that any president can secretly order and oversee the extrajudicial killing of American citizens. Obama's kill list transgresses against the Constitution as egregiously as anything George W. Bush ever did. It is as radical an invocation of executive power as anything Dick Cheney championed. The fact that the Democrats rebelled against those men before enthusiastically supporting Obama is hackery every bit as blatant and shameful as anything any talk radio host has done.

The difference between "enacted perfectly constitutional policy I don't like which had negative repercussions on a lot of people" and "enacted unconstitutional policy that fundamentally subverts much of the rule of law and which the president doesn't appear to think is a problem because he's a good guy and won't use it for bad purposes" is one of kind, not degree, and to elide the difference between the two is to blur the boundary between legitimate policy differences, however fundamental, and abuses of power that are unacceptable no matter who engages in them.

And, heck, I'm not even going to say that given that, one shouldn't vote for Obama. If you think he's the best option, vote for him. But just be clear on the nature of the things he's doing.

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