I actually like Barack Obama. I think he’s a great improvement on the gangster Republican rule of Cheney/Bush. But here’s the bad news: Obama still represents the moneyed establishment in this country. This was not news to me. I knew this when I voted for him. I just think it’s easy to lose perspective when watching the political spectacle in Washington. The right wing in this country is so rabid, dangerous, and delusional that it tends to distort one’s awareness of the big picture.
In the economic crisis, Obama has chosen to prop up the Wall Street bankers. He’s also made some steps to stimulate the economy, but the attempt to keep the bankers alive will be a major failure. I don’t know how long it will take for this failure to fully manifest, it could even be delayed until after Obama’s second term. But these people don’t know any other principle than greed and piracy, and they will drive us all into a ditch again.
Obama has also rolled over to the military industrial complex. The policies are imperialistic in the old style, as opposed to the scarier crypto-fascist Cheney approach. But they’re still imperialistic, so we’re still being the cop of the world and the guardian of multinational corporations as opposed to the oppressed millions on this earth. Obama also flinched on Israel—there will be no serious stand against expansion of illegal settlements. The situation in foreign affairs is back to the status quo, which was never a healthy thing. The United States will apparently have to keep learning the hard way that world hegemony is untenable.
Even the arrogance of Bush’s “unitary executive” initiatives has not been repudiated in full. Obama has not renounced the criminal and unconscionable policies of CIA “rendition.” The same specious arguments are made by Obama’s Justice Dept. in favor of so-called preventive detention and other unconstitutional means in the bogus “war on terror.”
Being a moderate on social issues means that Obama doesn’t go to the mat for gay rights, but gives them lip service instead. He is not pro-active on equality, civil rights, labor rights, or human rights abroad—and sometimes actively ignores these issues in order to curry favor with more conservative members of his own party. Time and again he takes the support of progressives and liberals, who were responsible for getting him elected, for granted, while pursuing a naïve and unattainable ideal of bipartisanship.
My purpose is not to discourage aspirations to change, but to emphasize that real change only comes from the bottom up. The establishment elects its own to run its business—they will preserve and promote the status quo as long as the American people tolerate the status quo. The mass of American citizens will continue to passively observe their own exploitation as long as they identify their interests with the rich. When they stop doing that, what follows is committed action on the local level. When progressive-minded people serve their communities instead of living passive lives of consumption, change will accelerate.