Think back to the election of 2008. Do you remember how one candidate had it easy? He had eight years of abject failure to run against. Eight years that included the launching of two dismal wars, the creation of a torture gulag with its crown jewel at Guantánamo Bay, the ushering in of a program of robotic assassination missions and secret spying programs, all presided over by an administration that talked tough about silencing leakers and reporters who aided them, and a president who kept a list with mug shots of people he wanted bumped off. (When his triggermen killed one, he’d cross off his face.) The roster of the administration’s “triumphs” reads like something out of dystopian fiction and people were tired of it. They wanted change, which was good news for the change candidate, because his rival was an old hawk who talked more of the same.
Fast forward to today. The candidate who won the 2008 contest expanded the country’s war in Afghanistan, struggled to keep American troops in Iraq (before fulfilling his predecessor’s pledge to withdraw), and oversaw escalating military interventions in Pakistan, Somalia, Libya, and elsewhere. The winning candidate failed to close Guantánamo, radically expanded the robotic assassination program, continued and expanded domestic surveillance, vigorously pursued and used the Espionage Actagainst more governmental whistleblowers than all other administrations combined (but prosecuted no one else in the National Security Complex for illegal activities), and kept his own extensive kill list, personally okaying assassinations. Could it really be that the “change” candidate won? Could it have been any worse than if the old hawk had?