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Repetition Compulsion

By       Message David Alpert     Permalink
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What is repetition compulsion? In psychobabble, it describes the dynamics in which a person continues to repeat the same sequence of self-destructive behaviors despite the negative consequences.

I hate playing the "I told you so" chorus, but Mr. Obama is, quite frankly, not a disappointment but merely following the same strategic prescription followed by previous progressive and liberal hopefuls. While campaigning, there is a need to seduce us by identifying the ills of our society and promising the changes necessary to make for a more level playing field and implementing a more people friendly agenda. Mr. Obama did this quite effectively, not only energizing the old timers but also encouraging the young newcomers to participate in the political process.

Once elected to office, Mr. Obama followed the game plan made famous by many other Democrats, move to the right, try to mollify the conservatives, and work for bipartisanship, modify the progressive agenda and mostly, avoid being labeled a liberal or worse, a socialist. The result is to find the progressive Democratic base abandoned, discouraged, and disenchanted. We experienced this sequence with the Clinton administration that was often highlighted by progressives having to stiffen their upper lips while expressing dismay because, after all, Bill was our man.

What we have to remember is that change will not come through the charisma of any one personality and so-called leader. To run for national office, candidates must raise millions of dollars. Our political system rewards those who can raise the most money. The media's coverage, more often than not, is not about issues but who has the largest pot of gold. Mr. Obama came from nowhere to surprise everyone and become the nominee of the Democratic Party. He and Hillary were not dramatically different on the issues and she was the darling of the party. Yet, we found Obama getting unexpected financial support. Where was it coming from? Why were they supporting a relatively unknown candidate with a limited track record?

It is my contention that periodically the powers that be, those who control our politics and economics, allow us our Bill Clintons and Barack Obamas. We are allowed our fleeting moments of hope only to find that our knights in shining armor abandon their campaign rhetoric and reveal themselves as protectors of the status quo. Mr. Obama is intelligent, a brilliant speaker, has an engaging manner, and a nice smile. He also plays basketball and, therefore, we thought, must be a man of the people. Except, when we examine his behavior rather than his words, he becomes suspect. Upon taking office, he appointed

Rahm Emanuel, with his strong ties to Israel, as his Chief of Staff and Tim Geithner and Larry Summers, both intimately connected to Wall Street, as his economic advisors. I would assume that the people one surrounds oneself with, is a strong indicator of the direction one's actions and decisions will travel.

Therefore, the policies concerning the expansion of the fighting in the middle east (Afghanistan), the economy (Wall Street vs. Main Street), health care (no single payer or public option), crimes committed against humanity (torture) by members of the Bush administration, etc. come as no surprise. At no time, other than doing away with "don't ask, don't tell", in the first year of Obama's presidency, can I think of a policy pursued that favored working people or his progressive supporters. Over 70% of the American people expressed support for a public option as part of health care reform. Yet, Mr. Obama has remained passive to this idea and has done nothing but provide lukewarm rhetoric for it and has neglected to mention it in his latest 11- page health reform proposal.

Mr. Obama has become what Bill Clinton became in his presidency, a kinder, gentler imperialist and protector of the pro corporate status quo. We must remember what followed the Clinton years, an administration that took us into a war for oil, attacked our constitutional rights, and committed crimes against humanity in our name. In effect, we spent 8 years coping with a fascist, oppressive administration that had no respect for human rights or the rule of law. Along comes Barack Obama with the hope of change, stimulating hundreds of thousands of Americans to actively participate in the political process, many for the first time. What frightens me is the prospect that this administration will destroy this hope and drive these folks, especially the young, out of the political dialogue. As a result of Mr. Obama's betrayal to his base, I anticipate a hard drive to the right in this country and administrations that succeed this one that will make the Bush administration look like flaming liberals.


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Dave Alpert is a retired educator and psychotherapist living in N.Y.C. He is married, has two children and 3 grandchildren. Dave has spent his career working with troubled inner city adolescents. Throughout most of his life, Dave has been (more...)

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