Well, never let it be said that this blogger doesn’t give everyone his or her “fifteen minutes of fame”, as the late Andy Warhol is said to have put it. That goes for the lowliest worker to the American imperial president. With the exception of the very pressing issue of the fight against the Obama Afghan war policy, both as to troop escalation and funding, this writer has held off from in-depth comment about the new regime. However, ever since the dust has settle on the last Inaugural ball, if not before then I have had this aching feeling that something is not right here. As the headline to this entry says- “the times are out of joint”.
Readers of this space are aware that the fundamental political axis that drives the commentary here is an oppositional anti-capitalist perspective. Thus, last fall, during the lead up to the November 2008 presidential elections I called for a NO vote for Obama, McCain, Nader (Independent) or McKinney (Green). However, Obama’s victory led me to a ‘feeling’ that a new wind was blowing in the American political universe that, sooner or later would, accrue to the benefit of leftist militants. I encapsulated that ‘feeling’ in the slogan, somewhat jokingly- "After Obama, Us". The truth of that slogan right now is neither here nor there for what concerns me is that right from the Inaugural Address this Obama ship has been listing, badly. I came of political age with John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address with its soaring rhetoric and call to the “better angels of our nature” in modern times. Although I long ago, as I have detailed elsewhere in this space over the past year or so, gave up on the Democratic Party as a vehicle for social change that speech still stands as a benchmark for bourgeois political rhetoric.
And this is not merely some nostalgia for the good old days (that did not exist, in any case). Nor is it a rebuke at the new technologies that have created the Obama aura or changed the nature of the way bourgeois electoral politics are practiced here. What bothers me is rather those continuing pictures from places like New Orleans, Detroit or other “Rust Belt” cities where formerly employed, mainly black, workers are lining up for charity, or in order to fight ‘pursue’ minimum wage careers as places like Wal-Mart. Or the continuing occupation of the black ghettos by hostile police forces prone to shoot first and ask questions later, as recent headlines have made apparent in places like Oakland, California . The outlines of that alleged “post-racial” society that was supposed to be ushered in by Obama are beginning to look very thin on the ground.
On another front we can all have a good laugh over the arrogance of the muffed Cabinet choices, grind our teeth at Obama’s emphasis of the forces that are to benefit form his stimulus package and rage at the misplaced mechanics of the financial bail-out plans that continue to reward those finance capitalists who got us into this fix in the first place. All of the above have given me a very different ‘feeling’ from that of last fall that Obama and his cohorts are in way over their heads. Only in comparison with the out-going Bush regime do they look good. That, my friends, is a very low bar to cross. All of this makes me think that we may not have the luxury of that “After Obama, Us” slogan. We had best get to that task of building a workers party that fights for a workers government. Pronto.