Despite his background, Obama knew enough about African Americans to pay us no attention and less respect. There would be no penalty. Black folks had convinced themselves that Obama needed our protection; it never occurred to most of us that we needed protection from him -- not during the primaries, when he praised Ronald Reagan's reaction to the "excesses" of the Sixties, or when he refused to endorse even a voluntary halt to home foreclosures (while Hillary Clinton and John Edwards endorsed "voluntary" and mandatory moratoriums, respectively); not in the last weeks before his inauguration, when Obama announced that Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and all "entitlements" would be "on the table" for chopping under his administration.
Instead, a million Black folks gathered on the National Mall for what we at BAR called " The Great Black Hajj of 2009 ," a pilgrimage, as if to Mecca, in celebration of Obama's ascension. There, he proclaimed to the multitudes: "I n the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things."
Dutifully, Black folks set aside the last vestiges of their vaunted distrust of Power. Henceforth, African Americans would consider themselves as a Palace Guard -- the antithesis of independent political actors. Thus was Obama empowered to become the "More Effective Evil."
With little resistance on the Left, and virtually none from organized Black America, Obama has worked miracles for the resuscitation of the Lords of Capital and their imperial apparatus -- feats that only a Black corporate Democrat could accomplish. After saving George Bush's bank bailout in October of 2008 (it passed only after candidate Obama's intervention), Obama undertook the historic mission of placing the U.S. State at the total disposal of finance capital. Under Obama's watch, the Treasury Department and, especially, the Federal Reserve have funneled at least $16 trillion to Wall Street and its foreign annexes -- a sum greater than the national GDP. The "free money" window at the Federal Reserve has become a permanent fixture of the global financial order, permanently blurring the lines between the U.S. state and international finance capital. Obama has embedded the state into the banks, and vice versa, in ways that cannot be undone without causing the system to collapse. In a very real sense, the "good faith and credit" of the United States has become a collective corporate asset of the Lords of Capital -- an outcome that fits the classic structural description of fascism. No Republican could have delivered the state apparatus so effectively to the banks -- there would have been fierce resistance from within the Democratic base, as well as libertarian Right. But Obama has proven to be the more effective facilitator of the bankers' state.
" Obama has embedded the state into the banks, and vice versa, in ways that cannot be undone without causing the system to collapse."
Social Security was untouchable -- until Obama laid his hands on it. Beginning with his pre-inauguration pronouncements on entitlements, Obama has been the guiding hand of an austerity offensive that did not exist on Election Day, 2008. Instead, Obama made deficit reduction his own priority, at a time when pundits were saying obituaries over the GOP. (Much as they are, today.) The Black Democrat appointed the Right-weighted Deficit Reduction Commission to promulgate a $4 trillion blueprint for austerity, a formula that matched Republic proposals in 2011. The blueprint would have been the basis for Obama's cherished Grand Bargain had the GOP not balked at "modest" taxes on the rich -- levies that are irrelevant to those who will lose their programs under the axe. Obama is the more effective austerity president -- if the Republicans will just let him work his show.
Imperial aggression has never fared better than under the opposition-less Obama. At one point, he was bombing five countries simultaneously, pretty good work for a Nobel Peace Prize winner -- or did the prize help empower him to such heights of bellicosity? His ever-evolving "Kill List" includes not only individuals of all nationalities (including our own) but also any country whose government is inconvenient to the United States. With "humanitarian" jargon as his only justification, President Obama has attempted to render international law a dead letter. No nation has any rights that he feels bound to respect. Obama, with his drone armadas and multiplying Special Forces troops, represents a far greater threat to global civilization -- which must be rooted in law! -- than the failed conquerer George Bush (who actually negotiated the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq). Unlike Bush, Obama has promulgated his own, novel doctrine of war, which declares that wars only exist when sufficient numbers of Americans become casualties. Under this construct, Libya was not a war, and the possibilities for U.S. non-war depredations are endless.
Preventive detention is the crown jewel of Obama's presidential exceptionalism. Statutory authority to imprison Americans without charge or trial was beyond Bush's reach, and he knew it. But Obama guided a bill through the Congress with very little Democratic opposition. He is the more effective secret police warden.
Now Obama has won another "mandate," which he will use to finish the projects he started: wider wars, a more profound government subservience to finance capital, and that "new legal architecture" on national security that he warned about on the Daily Show, a few weeks ago. He looks forward to fulfilling his austerity dreams early in his new term : " I am absolutely confident that we can get what is the equivalent of the grand bargain that essentially I've been offering to the Republicans for a very long time."
The non-resisters have won a non-victory against an unimpressive enemy, while the more effective evil plots new atrocities.
You will note that I have not specifically mentioned Black folks since the beginning of this article; that's because African Americans have made themselves irrelevant -- not just for the second Obama presidency, but possibly deep into the future. "Power concedes nothing without a demand," and Black folks have failed to demand even elementary respect from this president, much less concrete programs, or peace. Obama isn't the only one who has noted Black ineffectuality. Until an independent African American politics and political movement can be rebuilt, there is no reason for a president or Congress to pay "the Blacks" any more attention than Obama did.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com .