Obama's brand of demagogy has retarded progress toward a genuine renewal in American politics. The time for fantasies is over. A new movement must now come to the fore, and fresh political strategies must be introduced.
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The focus of this oped--marking exactly one year since Obama's inauguration--is the Massachusetts debacle--well deserved, in our opinion--as treachery, blatant corruption and cowardice should never be rewarded. Many of us clearly anticipated this disaster (it took no great skill), for the Obama cliques since their formal ascension to power have delivered nothing but indefensible policies, a craven form of Bush continuism, and a bumbling, embarrassingly inept leadership. Plus inexcusable backroom deals with the very political agents that have exploited and abused the population for generations.
No one with an elementary grasp of American politics can be shocked by this turn of events. Elementary class analysis has long indicated that , unless under duress, both Democrats and Republicans serve exclusively one class, the world financial oligarchy, or, what the old left used to call "the world bourgeoisie".
It was therefore logical that Obama and his confreres would concentrate on doing Wall Street's bidding, plus the ancillary taks of maintaining the empire, which requires the selling of endless wars and constant meddling in other peoples' affairs, and that his team in short order would end up scuttling a golden opportunity to turn this country around, perhaps not in the direction of even a mild socialism--but at least toward something that decent folks could embrace as a down payment in the hard march toward a truly democratic, non-imperialist United States. That much became indisputable very early in the Obama administration, when the new tenant in the White House--shamelessly oblivious to the recent past--began appointing prominent members of the national disease to the highest offices in the land, as if they had now miraculously shed their toxic DNA and become part of the process of national salvation.
Given these hard realities, it's important we keep things in perspective. Concerning the Massachusetts fiasco and its lessons, three things stand out:
(1) The Democrats had it coming. Oh boy, did they ever! Only supremely arrogant or tone-deaf people could ignore the whirlwind brewing in the heartland as a result of so many betrayals. But corruption and being high up in the socioeconomic pyramid almost guarantees a form of insulation from the problems afflicting the masses. The Democrats--still led by the disgusting DLC crowd, studded with "luminaries" such as Joe Lieberman, Al Gore and the Clintons--were simply blindsided by their own ruling class myopia.
(2) Since both parties represent the same corporate oligarchy--the same class interests--we're merely watching a momentary equilibrium shift between tweedledee and tweedledum, between the "good cop" and the "bad cop", between the outright criminal evil and the equally criminal (but better camouflaged) evil "options" presented to the American electorate. Indeed, what significant defense could we mount for an Obama regime that has demagogically endorsed the handing over of more than $23 trillion of our dollars to the very plutocracy that drove the nation (and the world) into the financial abyss? (He was doing this already while still a candidate in 2008.) A government that has amplified the inherited illegal, criminal wars under various pretexts? That has dragged out and so far reneged on its commitment to shut down Guantanamo once and for all? That has refused to prosecute the blatant violators of our Constitution and de facto pardoned Nuremberg-class criminals at the top, and has indeed courted and honored them? A president that has stubbornly shut out all progressive input (including single payer insurance, serious alternative energy development, job creation on the basis of extensive infrastructural renewal, the creation of a national bank to give loans directly to the people, etc., etc.) and that even chastised the left for having the audacity to remind him of the gap between his healthcare "reform" proposals and the obvious solution? It takes a strong stomach just to enumerate Obama's policy errors and (unnecessary) genuflections to power . All of which leads me to the following point.
(3) Don't be too quick to believe any "course corrections".
With midterm elections looming large on the horizon, and the recent setbacks in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts, Obama and the DLC are now--at last--running in panic mode. Thus we see Obama (Jan. 21) mouthing some pretty fiery rhetoric in Ohio against the banking mafia, about his unyielding commitment to the peepul
. This is rather laughable, coming from a guy who's been busy throwing the people's interests under the bus for a full year if not longer. In fact, don't ever believe sudden conversions that issue from expediency instead of principle. Opportunism runs deep in Obama and the Democrat mafia (indeed thoughout the whole political establishment). But leaving that unpleasant fact aside for a momnent, there's the question of character. Obama is no FDR, and although turnarounds and epiphanies are always possible, they're not likely in his case, as his nature is to be cautious, deferential, and conciliatory toward the super rich (This is the default position of most American politicians, anyway).
Chances are, therefore, that the DLC, implementing the ludicrous arguments of shameless closet Republicans like Evan Bayh (who, like Lieberman, should have been kicked out of the party a long time ago), may actually push the Democrats further to the right. If so, the party may seal its fate for another generation or longer. But maybe we won't walk away empty-handed this time. Perhaps these massive disappointments may finally convince the rank-and-file of the Democratic party --and that curious tribe of permanent "indecisives"--the independents--that the United States can't much longer afford the absence of a movement or party capable of leading the masses out of an outrageous spiral of crises spawned by the American ruling class. The rise of a new formation (see the sketch of this development as provided by Dave Lindorff in Mass. Mayhem: The Democrats' Debacle at http://www.greanvillepost.com/?p
=3218 ) is now in its preliminary stirrings.
(4) NO RISK, NO PUSH, AND NO STRUGGLE, A MINOR QUESTION OF STYLE
You can't move anything--let alone anything so perversely entrenched as reactionary politics in the USA--without pushing, without a fight, and Obama neither pushes nor fights. It should be obvious--especially to Obama, an intelligent man--that nothing can be achieved in the almost total absence of leadership. Yet Obama's brand of leadership, such as it is, is actually non-leadership, something closer to an impersonation job, or rather, the illusion of leadership.
A more charitable description could be that the current president insists on practicing a form of bloodless, gutless, above-the-fray management of situations, an exercise in corporate triangulation, and one which routinely rules out passion and principle--a formula sure to turn people off precisely when they need to be turned on fire. That style of "personal leadership"--no matter what his legions of apologists say--has never accomplished anything and never will. But now that the other shoe has dropped, will his hard-core liberal supporters abandon him or even dare to hold his feet to the fire?
There's been a clear unraveling of his base, and some leading liberals (i.e., Arianna Huffington, Robert Reich, etc.) have come out and actually denounced him. But to many--far too many-- mainstream liberals, including a fair share of African Americans--the spell still works. Distressingly, not even Obama's evidently hollow commitment to his "signature" bill to fix the scandalously exploitative health care system seems to shake such people off their blind allegiance. This despite the fact that it's widely acknowledged in political and media circles that Obama and his DLC cronies are prepared to sign anything bearing the name of "health reform" --no matter how deleterious to the people--in order to claim a victory. Maybe it's only logical: a pseudo democracy deserves a pseudo president.