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Obama, Yes, a Thousand Times Yes, of Course, But … October 29, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in About Barack Obama, U.S. Election 2008.
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© Roger Hollander, October 29, 2008


In 1964 I worked full time on the Johnson/Humphrey campaign, motivated in a large part by the hawkishness of Barry Goldwater vis-à-vis Vietnam.  We elected Lyndon Johnson, and he proceeded to escalate the War beyond our wildest nightmare.


That was the last time I bothered to vote in a presidential election until 2004, when the prospect of a second Bush term was so unthinkable that even the notion of supporting the candidate for the latter day Democratic Party of Clinton and Bush Democrats did not come close to overriding my fear of such an outcome.  We all know the outcome.


My absentee ballot for Obama/Bidden was in the mail some time ago, going to the key state of Pennsylvania.  The thought of a McCain/Palin victory is so beyond the pale that even as the democratic socialist that I am, who sees a fatally truncated democracy in play in capitalist America, I find myself as close to praying for an Obama victory as an agnostic can get.


But …


Let’s keep things in perspective.  Eight years of Cheney/Bush (yes, in that order) has moved the country so far in the direction of patriarchal militarized fascism, that even a moderate like Barack Obama appears to be nothing less than a Saviour.


I am aware that Obama is generally considered to be a Liberal Democrat.  Labels aside, the country has so drifted (drifted like an avalanche) to the right that our political perceptions tend to be somewhat skewed.  We have seen, for example, candidate Obama shifting away from his original audacity (unconditional dialogue with Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea), as mild as it was, towards today’s apparently obligatory Republocrat hard line orthodoxy.  He wants to take the troops out of Iraq and send them into the Afghanistan quagmire.  You will not hear Obama utter the phrase that classically came from the lips of Dwight David Eisenhower in his farewell address: military industrial complex.


I would like to believe that an Obama presidency would begin to dismantle militarized armed-to-the-teeth America, but I have seen nothing in him to suggest that he either understands the need or has the intention.  I would like to believe that an Obama presidency would take on the health insurance industry and give us genuine universal health care on a single payer basis (a la Canada), but I do not see that coming either.  I would like to believe that an Obama presidency would genuinely take on Wall Street, the Banks, the corporate media, and re-negotiate NAFTA out of existence, but I don’t see that happening either.  Do you? 


[I hope I will be proved wrong.]


Nonetheless I do not discount the Obama “phenomenon.”  Tom Hayden said that he doesn’t necessarily endorse Obama, but he does the Obama Movement.  I have predicted all along that President Obama will provoke profound disappointment amongst his most committed followers; that he has raised expectations that he cannot possibly fulfill.  This is good.  Other good things coming out of an Obama presidency should include more balanced judicial appointments, an end to know-nothing anti-environmentalism, reversing the scandalous tax cuts to the rich, and perhaps a breather from the attacks on Roe v. Wade. 


Of course, electing its first Afro-American president, something that would have been inconceivable not that many years ago, will be of enormous moral and political significance in a country whose original constitution considered African slaves as nothing more than chattel property.


Will an Obama presidency and a Democratic Congress hold the Cheney/Bush gang accountable for their various crimes?  I seriously doubt it.  Presidential lying about extra marital sex?  Yes.  Taking the country to war based on conscious lies?  Ask Nancy Pelosi.


Nevertheless, no sane, informed, intelligent and good willed American will do other than vote for Obama/Bidden.  As I stated earlier, I have already.  The level of disaster that will result from a McCain/Palin victory is almost beyond imagination.


But let’s consider that possibility (shudder).  My thesis is that the only way McCain can win at this point is by again stealing the election via electoral fraud and voter disenfranchisement, as the current incumbent did in 2000 and 2004.  In such circumstances, how will the Obama Movement react?  With the same relative passivity as in the previous two stolen elections?  I doubt it, but I don’t foresee the possibility of a reversed outcome or anything resembling an uprising.  And we should not forget that to deal with whatever dissent and civil disobedinece that may be mounted against a stolen election, Bush/McCain will be armed with the Military Commissions Act, which in effect gives the president carte blanche to detain without habeas corpus.


If contemplating such a possibility doesn’t keep you up at night and get you out to the polls on November 4, I don’t know what will.