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Obama and the clash of hopes

By Peter Boyle

There can be no doubt that the great majority of the 55 million US citizens whose votes made Barack Obama president want change. They want a change from the system in which trillions of dollars are spent to bail out Wall Street while ordinary folk on "Main Street" lose their homes, their jobs and can't even get basic health care. They want an end to the endless wars abroad that President George W. Bush launched in the wake of 9/11 -- wars which are returning thousands of young Americans home in body bags and many times more as cripples. They want the US to be welcomed by the rest of the world as a peacemaker rather than hated as the biggest warmaker.


So, around the world, everyone with a shred of humanity cheered on that wave of hope for change that gave the US its first black president on November 4.

But while there's this mass desire for change, the giant corporate empires that have thrived on a regime of corporate welfare are still wielding massive power. For them, the trillion dollars spent by the US government on the military (just this year and even amidst the worst capitalist economic crisis since the Great Depression) is simply “good for business” and they want it to carry on, thank you very much!

The CEOs of USA Inc have their own hopes for the Obama presidency. They hope that Obama's victory might be used to pacify the population and allow them to carry on business-as-usual. They hope that the euphoria at Obama's win will quickly turn to reckless shopping, that it will unleash animal spirits that can somehow pull the capitalist system out of a mega-recession of its own making. And, twistedly, they hope that US imperialism can now continue to deploy its killing machines flying the flag of peacemaker.

Ordinary people made the Obama victory by volunteering to campaign in their own neighbourhoods, donating record amounts of money and then turning out to vote in record numbers. In his victory speech, Obama urged those who want to remake the US to join in the process “block by block, brick by brick, callused hand by callused hand”. That's a fact. If their hopes for change are to be met, those millions will have to stay in political action.


Those on the left who have focused on lecturing the millions who have invested their hopes for change in Obama, have missed the point. The real challenge is to keep alive those popular hopes and turn it into an ongoing movement that can deliver real change.


In this challenge, those who persevere with speaking up and organising for change after the election parties are over are critical to the outcome of the clash of hopes embodied in the Obama victory. Green Left Weekly is produced on the other side of the world to the US but thousands in that country are regular readers – thanks to the internet. So we are part of the ongoing movement for change in the US.


We want to make a special appeal this week to our US readers to help us in our own “block by block” campaign to keep Green Left Weekly a part of the worldwide struggle for change. Last week, our supporters in Australia raised $9,188. Special thanks to our supporters in Sydney and Canberra and to the Sydney supporter who donated $2,000. (US readers note: if that was in US dollars it would be twice as much for us today – thanks to the global financial crisis made in Wall St.)

So far this year, Green Left Weekly supporters have raised a total of $182,985 but we have to raise another $67,015 by the end of this year to make our target. Can you help?

Send your donation to Green Left Weekly, PO Box 515, Broadway NSW 2007, phone it through on the toll-free line at 1800 634 206 (within Australia). You can also make direct deposits into to the Green Left Weekly Fighting Fund at: Greenleft, Commonwealth Bank, BSB 062-006, Account No. 901992 or donate online.

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