Tuesday, July 01, 2008


Obama's the nominee. Hillary wrapped up her campaign, made nice, gave a totally adequate concession speech, and then threw her full weight behind Obama's candidacy at a rally.

In the last couple of weeks, though, Obama's started to make some moves to the center that have been somewhat worrisome to his more progressive supporters.

1.) While he's always seemed somewhat ambivalent about NAFTA, he always skewed his rhetoric towards opposing it. Now his rhetoric has shifted so that he doesn't really see what the big deal about NAFTA is.

2.) In years past he appeared to support the right of cities to ban handgun ownership, but after the Supreme Court affirmed the right of the citizen to bear arms last week, Obama's come out in support of the decision.

3.) In Illinois, he was part of the commission that halted Illinois's capital punishment regime. Last week when the Supreme Court decided that any crime that does not result in death does not warrant the death penalty (the crime at issue being child rape), Obama came out in opposition to the decision, saying the State should have the right to execute child rapists.

4.) Before, he said he'd filibuster any bill that contained a provision for immunity from prosecution for the telecommunications companies complicit in the government's illegal wiretapping program. Now, he has come out in support of a compromise bill that contains exactly that immunity.

5.) Before he didn't wear that goddamn flag lapel pin because he knew it was cheap, meaningless, and stupid. When someone's running for office, particularly for the highest office in the land, isn't that person's "patriotism" beyond reproach? Has anyone who's ever been accused of not being patriotic enough during an election season actually not loved their country? And who gets to define patriotism? Republicans? Obama showed all of that political silly season stupidity the door. Except ... As you can see in his photo from the cover of Rolling Stone, he's started to wear the flag pin regularly.

My question is this: how much of these shifts are necessary to win the general election, and how much do these shifts to the center dilute his powerful brand?

For myself, the places Obama has shifted to don't bother me much. NAFTA's never been much of an issue for me. I'd have to read about 5 dry economics books to understand half of what people are arguing about, and I'm not interested enough in the issue to do that. I also supported the Supreme Court's decision to decriminalize posession of firearms in one's own home, so Obama's new position is pretty much in line with my own. As for the capital punishment decision the Supreme Court handed down last week, I agreed with it, but I understand that as political theater, it's probably better for a candidate to come down on the side of killing child rapists than to oppose it, no matter their governmental philosophy. But the telecom immunity shift does bother me -- I think we need to know as much as we can about this illegal breach of citizen privacy and now Obama's said, in effect, that no, we don't. And the flag pin, well, that's just disappointing.

The cumulative effect of all this shifting is that I don't feel confident I know where Obama stands on any given issue anymore. On the flip side, I no longer doubt that he has the steely resolve required to win and to govern a divided nation. He's no Jimmy Carter, no McGovern. He's more like JFK. Thoughtful, liberal, but ruthless.

Though I still think Obama's a fantastic politician and one of the best candidates I've had the chance to vote for, I am a little worried that his recent shifts to the center and to the center-right aren't over, and that in his zeal to win over independents he's going to alienate his base and end up being the president we all knew Hillary would have been: just another poll-driven centrist. I hope I look back on this post in a few months and laugh at how alarmist and knee-jerk I was. All I can do is continue to watch and hope.


blankfist said...

You do love yourself some nation-builders, dontcha.

Anonymous said...

Your choices this century are between Market Democracy and Market Stalinism - both feed off one another. Democrats are for soft power of imperialism and the Republicans are hard power imperialists and racists to boot.

I truly lament that the Left has a vital united force is dead in the USA. There is no left wing AT ALL. And I will openly debate anyone who disagrees.

Better to stay involved in your local community activism and personal choices than to get involved in the illusion of our representative political system. These capitulations are the nail in the coffin for me. If this gets any worse - I am NOT voting for Obama. I don't think a centrist is going to inspire people to become active political citizens, sorry.

Good luck Democrats...Good luck Amerikkka.



Anonymous said...

I'm still WAY voting for Ron Paul.

Anonymous said...

Yes, why don't we have more democratic pluralism in this country?

To go along with the liberal and conservative parties, there should be a communist party, left libertarian party, social democratic party, green party, libertarian, independence party and neo-fascist party. The entire spectrum. Let them all fight it out - give them the platform to build relationships and discuss strategy.

I for one am staunchly against any right wing party (represented by the likes of John McCain, to Pat Buchanon, to Ron Paul, to David Koresh) - but you get my point.

In other countries you have to form coalitions and there is powersharing and parity/scale in representation. It's not out of the ordinary for the communist party in France or other European countries to receive 10% of the total vote!

Only in Amerikkka do we have 2 corporatist parties - existing to enrich the few at the expense of everyone else.

In the end there are owners and workers. The Owners have the power, wealth, the military and cops. What do the workers have? Maybe unions to represent their interests to the owner? From the start, workers are on the weaker playing field. And when I say workers - I don't just mean blue collar anymore.

Also, how did the owners end up gaining their power? How did they originally end up as owners?

Answer: Primative Accumulation

1) Looting resources from other regions, countries, tribes and cultures through the use of force.

2) Internal accumulation from the creation of forced class disparity, displacement from land, forced industrial collectivization, serfdom, slavery, low wage earners allowed property and business owners to reinvest the difference back into production to keep generating profits.

In the end - you have the creation of a "state" that has a monopoly on violence and an establishment of a government and laws by Owners in order to keep a check on themselves from continuously fighting one other over competitive reasons. They must adhere to a world of laws in order to allow the system to function smoothly.

But what of workers, the landless, the peasants? Their ability to organize is usually already squashed by paramilitary death squads or insitutional privitization programs administered by the IMF or "free-trade agreements."

Moreover, the brianwash continues with mass advertising, the media,Hollywood films, religion, secret intelligence agencies active character assasinations and witch hunts and consumerism are used as tools to pacify, divide the worker (into racial demographics) from uniting with others to overthrow the system.

But, the brilliance of the system is that it is elastic. Reformists are then allowed who push for taxation and other social programs to redistribute more money to the workers so that they can atleast purchase the commodities and services being produced by the owners, thus keeping their profits up and their racket going - and this calms the revolutionary impulse.

But, history has proven that without some type of government guidance and oversight to curb the worst inefficiencies of the market, social revolutions and civil war are the result.

Meanwhile - the byproducts of the system as history proves are continuous war, irreversable environmental pollution, physical and mental illness, crushing poverty, homelessness, crime, debt servitude, loss of civil rights, terrorism, an emergence of total surveillance and a police state.

As the state moves away from remedying these eggregious issues towards an anarcho-capitalist model - the tyrany of private property will push the creation of ever growing slums (over 1 billion people live in them and growing)- creating overpopulation, epidemics, and crime syndicates.

Desparate people, yearning to survive in this world of hoarded plenty, will then turn toward local community involvement and activity, through decentralized political arrangements. People like in Argentina in 2000 will help one another.

Notice how capitalists are pushing to make money in areas that would have been unheard of years ago: healthcare, disasters, security, weapons, oil and energy, housing, insurance, financial speculation (no more pensions or social security)...All things that were once free for the created middle class. With the emergence of many more dominant powers all vying for the same resources, all aiming for the same pie - we now have the potential for a new world war.

With this eroding of the infrastructure - there will be the emergence of a police state to protect the assets throughout the world of the ever growing elite through the militarization of space (which is already happening).

Marx was right in that capitalism's only focus is to centralize its power. Marx foresaw globalization as an inevitablity.

Your only other choice is an internationalist revolution - where people bring the world to a stand still (not show up to work in mass, refuse to go to work, refuse to fight wars) bring the owners to their knees and push for either a new societal makeup or for the original reforms that were once plentiful 30 years ago.