Well, that logic never ends.
Today, a FISA vote is excused “in order to get elected.” Next, a delay in troop withdrawal because “the Generals insist...” Soon people swallow more religiously-driven legislation and homilies to Jesus Christ because “he can’t get anything done” unless he “brings the country together.” Then, before you know it, further “compromises” so the Democrats hold their majority in the mid-term elections. Then, like a tape on loop, those same “pressures” will have to be accommodated to get him reelected.
Most fundamentally, those pressures must be understood for what they are: the operation and logic of the system Obama is competing to be commander-in-chief of. And if he wants to be selected president he has to prove himself capable of running this country in the interests of the class of capitalist/imperialists who rule.
That is why he is championing the so-called “war on terror” which, in its essence, is a war for imperialist domination. That is why he is photo-op-ing with Generals and singing the praises of troops who are neck-deep in war crimes. That is why he is meeting with, and by all accounts trying to win the approval of, people like Franklin Graham who once compared the Iraqi people to the ancient Babylonians of the Old Testament. That is why he directs his aim not at white supremacy but at Black men and admits he’s “not entirely immune to nativist sentiments” against immigrants.
On the Real
Let’s be real. In bourgeois elections what the masses of people think has precious little to do with how the candidates choose their positions or which candidate wins. By the time the people get to pull the lever on election day, the terms have been set—which candidates and issues and stands are viable contenders has been determined—according to ruling class interests. And when they do vote, all they are doing is stamping those ruling interests—as embodied in one candidate or another—with the mantle of legitimacy and a “popular mandate.”
If the people who wrote this open letter don’t know that, they should. But what is really unconscionable is that this “Open Letter to Barack Obama” is not going to be heard and considered by Obama—he is more likely to blow his nose with it than to take such a thing seriously. But it will be heard and considered by those who are extremely alienated and angry with the government, who seized on the Obama candidacy as a source of hope, and who are now disillusioned as Obama articulates an increasingly unapologetic imperialist agenda.
These people don’t need to be funneled back into the dead-end of politics-as-usual, they need to be told the truth:
The real choice is not a choice between Obama and McCain. The real choice is between accepting the ruling class spectrum of Obama to McCain as the limits of what is possible—or—rejecting this whole framework and instead waging meaningful mass political resistance to the whole fascist direction the world is being dragged in. It is the difference between fighting for the change you ARE ALLOWED to believe in and the change that you understand is really needed.
Yes, political resistance of a scale and scope that could bring all this to a halt is more daunting and requires more sacrifice. But, if you want genuine change then nothing is more unrealistic than confining yourself to pulling the lever.
It is long past time people put their hope in something that can bring about change worth believing in: the power of the people acting in the interests of humanity. The people do have the power to effect change when they refuse to hold their tongues out of electoral calculations and get off their butts and go into the streets.
It is a very good thing—not a bad thing, as The Nation implies—that millions are deeply angry and profoundly alienated not just by the Bush regime but also increasingly by Obama. Many of them are casting about, wondering if there is another way. Many of them will join in resistance if they see it as an option.
All of their eyes—and millions more around the world—will be at the Democratic National Convention.
Instead of trying to convince them that what is going on inside should be accepted, shouldn’t we tell them the truth about what this represents? Shouldn’t we bend every effort to ensure they see thousands of protesters OUTSIDE making clear their refusal to swallow war-mongering and repression regardless of which candidate or party is pushing it?
And, to those who are ready to give up on banging your hearts and your heads up against the “best” that capitalism can offer; shouldn’t we go further still? Shouldn’t we get into the questions of our times that really demand answers, like what kind of society you are willing to live in and what kind of change is really required. Is it simply a matter of making adjustments to the blood-soaked arrangements of empire or do we urgently need fundamental and radical change?
To those who wonder if a better world—a future really worthy of human beings—is possible; I dare you to dream of revolution. And I invite you to explore—through the pages of this newspaper and the works of Bob Avakian—a viable vision of what that is, and to engage the leadership that can point the way.