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Part 3: The Puzzle of "Liberal" Obama's Support for the TPP

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Ultimately, we cannot know whether this TPP-fast-tracking outrage is a product of Obama's deeply-held and longstanding dreams for the country and the world, or something he's pushing on us because his own back is to the wall. The TPP may be part of an extensive ransom that existing corporate and financial powers are demanding of him for whatever crumbs of reasonableness they are letting him get away with. Perhaps the TPP is an extra cost imposed for allowing Obama the privilege of providing quasi-affordable health insurance to the working poor and middle class (the most obvious cost, of course, being the structural giveaway to health insurance companies and Big Pharma, and the freezing out of the public option).

By the same reasoning, perhaps Obama's most salient crimes--the drone assassination program, secret dirty JSOC-CIA wars all over the world, the persecution of whistleblowers , the expanded NSA security state, and no charge-trial-or-conviction targeted assassinations of Americans and others outside a declared battlefield--are also costs imposed for granting him certain privileges of presidential legacy. Obama has, to his credit, continued to leave waterboarding off the list of legally-approved torture methods , drawn down troops in Iraq, and avoided war with Iran (and, more recently, Syria). These actions may have all been motivated by grass roots pressure on him, but we may remember from the Bush era how unyielding certain leaders can be to grass roots pressure.  We should perhaps be ready to offer sympathetic condolences to Obama then for whatever blackmail-related anxieties he might be suffering as he attempts to execute with minimum perfidy and carnage the de facto duties of his office.

So Obama-boosters take note.  If hidden powers are regularly forcing Obama to act against his own moral preferences, then it is not "anti-Obama" to resist the perfidy and carnage that he claims to support. What Obama "really wants" is essentially unknowable, so we can feel free to just do the right thing and hope that Obama is on board in the deepest recesses of his heart, in spite of all evidence to the contrary. By this principle, we are not obliged to roll over for the TPP (or drone assassination, indefinite detention, etc.) just because halo-wearing, we-voted-for-him Obama is mixing his labor with it.

People who have done some good things may often do some bad things too, for all kinds of reasons, including situational pressures. It isn't necessary to support, soft-pedal or excuse those bad things in order to appreciate and honor the good things they've done. Again, this is something that we who have politically supported Obama in one way or another might want to say to ourselves ten times a day in order to harmlessly reduce our dissonance and stay in touch with reality.

Go on to Part 4: Pitting Fear of Our Complicity Against the Fear to Resist the TPP.

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Ian Hansen is a social psychology professor specializing in cultural and political psychology and a part time activist on behalf of the good things in life.

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