What good is Barack Obama if he is indeed another inside man for the corporate plutocracy? What good is winning the election if all that Hope and Changey stuff was frankly bullshit? More importantly, what are the deeper implications of Hope and Change transmogrifying into We'll Take Anything We Can Get?
Despite campaigning in 2008, and now in 2012 it appears, as an "outsider," who tells millions "you can't change Washington from the inside," Obama has governed from the Oval Office as The Consummate Insider. (All of which prompted a very funny segment from The Daily Show.) But what really gets my goat going is when liberals shoot back with the predictable excuse, "he had no choice because of those stupid, evil republicans!," as if they know that Obama, somewhere deep-down in his soul, is really a progressive, and not a soulless neoliberal apparatchik. Yet do they have any EVIDENCE, (besides that secret plot he's got going against Rahm Emanuel & the banksters,) that Obama would govern as a liberal-progressive, you know, if it wasnt for all that realpolitick jazz? Do they have EVIDENCE that Obama is not the blue-dog he says he is? Any EVIDENCE that he plans - or even hopes - to replenish Social Security and Medicare after they're cut, or bring back labor unions after they get decimated, or bring back Habeas Corpus, or Keynesian economics, or undo climate change, or give back to citizens the civil liberties he and the Republicans have taken away, you know, once he has enough power to do so?
Perhaps the most important accomplishment of Obama's Presidency, (besides extending Bush's Patriot Act; voting for FISA; extending Bush tax-cuts; taking upon himself the sole authority to kidnap or kill any American citizen without due process; appealing a court ruling on NDAA; using drones to kill innocent Muslims without being transparent about it, and approving the use of drones over domestic air-space for commercial and state purposes; failing in Copenhagen; kissing the ass of Wall St. bankers; cracking down on unions and working people; presiding over greater gaps of inequality than his predecessor; undermining attempts to better integrate public schools; invading foreign countries illegally despite being a Constitutional lawyer; buying into the Austerity racket and sending signals that, like his Republican partners in crime, will actually cut Social Security & Medicare; and moving the party to the right of both Reagan and Nixon) has been to pour cold water on his supporters, aka his "base," while simultaneously convince them that he, really deep-down in his soul, is a pwogwessive... whatever his accomplishments, whatever he says.
What makes all this so alarming is that its not just "the lesser evil" his supporters will be voting for; they'll
also be voting for, what Glen Ford calls, "the more effective evil"
given their perfect alibi: those evil, stupid Republicans. As Paul Street writes, "I have been asking Obama-mad campus town liberals to tell me if there was any particular line in the sand Obama could cross where they would withdraw support for him. The question has been consistently met with silence except for one who told me they would cease to back Obama 'if he joined the Republican party.'"
Obama seems like a great guy. He also has a beautiful family. But judging from his acts and deeds as an elected public official, qua POTUS, his priorities are nothing less than fucked up. He'll fight for Bush policies but not for the CTU - nor even campaign for public sector workers in Wisconsin against a Republican Governor! He'll stay silent when it comes to the gun-laws but not when it comes to ridiculing "the professional left." He'll sit by as poverty grows while find the time to coddle the rich. The real proof is that Obama refuses to go out into the land to rally the people on these issues, (you know, that put-pressure-on-Congress thing,) but he will go out to the swing states during election time when he needs their votes. Such a great speaker, apparently an inspirational figure too, yet such an insider! Thus, to build from what Charles Ferguson, (despite intending to vote for Obama,) wrote a few days ago: the fact of the matter is that the more the two electoral candidates pretend to be (are?) at each others' throats, the more similar they are in reality because being at each others throats requires access to big money, and thus enslaving yourself to the framework of corporate power. It doesn't matter what either of them say or what either of them say otherwise.
Thus my quest has now become to radically disillusion "the left" and their
"centrist" collaborators of elections because elections, at least as
they are practiced within the United States these days, not only make
the electorate more stupid - they also have the brume of legitimacy
about them. I used to think to look forward to elections because at
least they got ordinary people, you know, the demos, talking about
politics - or at least what passed for politics. I still look forward to
these engagements. But I also know that every two years the lowest
common denominators get pumped up and paraded, and the historical records
conveniently evaporate into the ether, while the race to the bottom stays on course. I also am reminded how important it is to know that the elections are a sham because the difference between an F+ and an F-
just ain't gonna cut it. Actually, the difference between the two
parties these days, to rephrase it, looks like the difference between
someone putting a gun to you & your family's head, saying "Don't
worry, I know what I'm doing!," and another person leading you and your
family down a long dark alley, saying Don't worry, I know what I'm
doing!" I'll leave it up to you to figure out who is who. But be
prepared for tedious, exhausting debates because whether or not you
live in a red state or a blue state, you'll have to endure inane charts
and memes, & do plenty of "fact checking."
On the really important issues that are defining and dictating how people live their lives, and what their futures entail, (the domination of corporate and financial power, increasing police power & militarism, the cracking down on unions; the withering away of social safety nets as well as Social Security and Medicare, growing gaps of inequality, and, of course, climate change,) the difference between these two parties ain't worth squat. That one may be intent on only picking up the pace as we fly of the cliff may be true; but that an opposition is either incapable or unwilling to stop us from hitting the ground seems also true. None of this is all that new. But we are getting closer to making it a whole lot worse.
Criticism matters if only to correct the record - and that's just what Glen Ford achieves for the most part as Michael Eric Dyson, the new Obama apparatchik at MSNBC, makes an ass of himself on this morning's Democracy Now! (The debate starts at about the 16:30 mark.)
I used to think the difference between the GOP and the Democrats was like the difference between Coke and Pepsi. And there was a difference: one tasted better and was, at least we we were told, less filling. It was pretty much a difference without a distinction between two corrupt, failed, oligarchical parties. The evil of two lessers, in other words. More recently, I had to come to think of the difference between the two parties as kind of like the difference between two corporate-militarist-plutocratic Orwellian factions with different branding strategies: one cast somewhere in between a Benetton advertisement and the dust-covered box set of Will & Grace in your closet - and the other, far more politically incorrect, juvenile, and downright depraved in its antics. Now I think the difference is probably more akin to that existing between a calmer, more rational, and deceptively more "inclusive" Republican party, aka Ford's "more effective evil," which has not just moved to the right of both Nixon and Reagan but every once and a while poses and parades itself as a "Democratic Party" to muster appeal from unsuspecting sycophantic soi disant pwogwessives and their "centrist" collaborators - and, a party that is simply far more politically incorrect, radical, depraved, and more apocalyptic in its antics. A more strategically "effective evil" does not mean a greater one in absolute terms just a less extreme, more compromised, stealthier one. Both still fail but there is a difference.
* UPDATE 9/9/12*
Watch Glen Ford address the issue again with Paul Jay on The Real News.