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Obama wins the US presidency

by Dave Riley

As if you didn't know!

There's a bit of a conundrum involved which warrants a bit of attention straight away.

While the fact that the guy is Afro-American is very significant we are still stuck with the USA as is -- with its imperialism and all the rest.

I was wondering what the fall out is likely to be in Africa -- and while the media have played up the Martin Luther King "I have a dream..." angle -- the key factor is what expectancy, what hopes -- the US population will invest in the administration of this new president.

I say that's a wild card..and in similar way, it has to play out in Africa too.

What ever way you cut it there's a black man in the White House.

In his 1964 novel, Irving Wallace speculated on such a contingency:
As a novel, The Man — written before the 25th Amendment to the national Constitution — begins, the Vice-Presidency is vacant, because of the incumbent's death. Then, while overseas, the President and the Speaker of the House suffer a freak accident; the President is killed, the Speaker of the House dies in surgery. The Presidency then corresponds to Douglass Dilman, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, a black man earlier elected to that office in deference to racial tokenism.

President Douglas Dilman's presidency is marked by white racists, black political activists, and an attempted assassination. Later, he is impeached on false charges for firing the United States Secretary of State.
The contradiction is that Wallace could not imagine that a black man could be elected to the presidency.

That's the key point.

I'm sure there are millions of Afro Americans who'll tell you that racism in the United States is same ole same ole but for the average Red Neck or what have you everyday Whitey -- this election is a bit of a wake up call.

Millions have betrayed that racist trust and have crossed over to invest their hopes in a Nigger.

That doesn't kill off racism in the US or change in itself any aspect of the Afro American condition. Nonetheless, it raises expectations that are sure to empower a new assertiveness.

It may be de rigueur on the Left to reference the 60's Vietnam anti war movement as the beginning of an ascendant protest movement and a new wave of struggle. I don't agree. I think the catalyst began in Alabama and Montgomery-- before the anti war movement kicked in.

I think the beginning of the way the world was remade was in the crucible of the Civil Rights Movement in the context of a rise of national liberation struggles elsewhere in the world.

That's what we all owe Afro Americans. It was their struggle that inspired a generation.

So for Obama to win the presidency --despite the fact that the US ruling class also chose him -- suggests that there are a few risk factors in play -- for them.

While I've got a hole in my bum, Obama isn't going to morph into a Martin Luther King. But that's not the point. The point is that there is a new expectancy that cannot be fulfilled by Washington despite Obama's residency there.

The scale of the interest and excitement that has also been felt here in Australia suggests that hope and political aspirations are not deadened to a degree where people cannot be vitalised. That -- even if we are stuck with Kevin Rudd -- the US has a new favorite son to look to: a figure who can aggregate more hope than what this Labor government was willing to stimulate.

It doesn't matter that Obama won't or doesn't deliver. It does matter that the very promise of it engages people to expect more to happen.

And when it doesn't....well, there you have it: a new ballgame.

2 Com:

Dave Riley | November 06, 2008

Polizeros comment by DR:I’ve been involved in third party electoral politics for decades — the Greens, feral independents and socialist lists — and there is one absolute rule of thumb: when you have polarised election the third party vote will always go down.

So much sustenance was fed under the Obama campaign that — at least in my memory , and I’m in Australia — I cannot recall such a mythic groundswell since Eugene McCarthy’s run for the Dem nomination in 1968. And that wasn’t enough nor were there that many millions involved in running it.

The coincidence of that and 40 years since the 68 Democrat convention in Chicago is very much to the point I think.

It also suggests that there’s something afoot in the way that this time the Dems weren’t offering a Hubert Humphrey but something else. I think that suggests a contradiction because what you’ll d find I think is that the “war” is more opposed today than it was in 1968. The crucial missing ingredient is that radicalised cutting edge, that passion for activism and a sense of demanding something else.

In one aspect that shrill cry exists in the form of that Obama spin and packaging. But if he doesn’t delver , what then?

This candidacy has bought more people into politics I expect in a way that may make the future uncertain for the US ruling elite. They wallowed lazily in Bush and simply utilized a lock down approach rather than engage people ideologically . As Gore Vidal has said they were willing to destroy the republic for the sake of neo liberalism and political fundamentalism…and this war.

In one sense, the end of Bush — and we are having such parties here in Australia celebrating the fact– combined with the economic collapse marks the beginning of a new period in not only US but world politics.

It’s hard to get a marker on it but I’m sure there are many contradictory elements in play.

For now the crippling need to pull together a third party force relating absolutely to working people has been set back — not just because of the vote but because of the fact that Obama will be allowed a honeymoon and what that means is that the Dems credibility will have risen.

But for the 12 percent of the US population who are Afro American — God knows what dynamic may unfold. “We have the pres but we still got nothing!”.

But to denigrate the third party offering, to indulge in “Democratism” gets no one anywhere. Here we refer to the absolute commitment to the Labor Party as “Laborism” — to describe a large current that cannot imagine the genesis of anything else to the left of the ALP. The same applies to the Dems I’m sure — “Democratism” — as it’s a pervasive ideology.

But the reality is that the tied has shifted variously in countries around the world and other forces are now emerging. Your problem is your rotten electoral system which is as democratic as a Marines boot camp.

Admin | November 06, 2008

Mike Davis

Writer, historian and socialist activist Mike Davis is the author of several books, including Planet of Slums, In Praise of Barbarians and City of Quartz.

FORTY YEARS ago this week, the Democratic Party (the party of Jim Crow and the Cold War, as well as the New Deal) shipwrecked itself on the shoals of an unpopular war in Vietnam and a white backlash against racial equality.

The "emerging Republican majority," as Nixon's Machiavelli, Kevin Phillips, famously branded it, was always episodic and often paper-thin in national elections, but it was galvanized by impressive ideological and religious fervor, as well as lavishly subsidized by an employer class everywhere on the offensive against New Deal unions and social programs.

Republicans, although more often than not the minority party in Congress, dominated agendas (the New Cold War, the tax revolt, war on drugs and so on) and led the restructuring of government functions (abolition of direct federal aid to cities, deliberate use of debt to forestall social spending and so).

The Democratic response to the Reagan revolution from 1981 was not principled resistance but craven adaptation. The "New Democrats" under Bill Clinton (whose personal model was Richard Nixon) not only institutionalized Nixon-Reagan economic policies, but sometimes surpassed Republicans in their zeal to enforce neoliberal doctrine, as with Clinton's crusades to "reform" welfare (in fact to create more poverty), reduce the deficit and implement NAFTA without labor rights.

Although the New Deal working-class core continued to supply 60 percent of the Democratic vote, party policy was largely driven by the Clintons' infatuation with "new economy" elites, entertainment industry moguls, affluent suburbanites, yuppie gentrifiers and, of course, the world according to Goldman Sachs.

Crucial defections by Democratic voters to Bush in 2000 and 2004 had less to due with Republican manipulation of "family values" than with Gore's and Kerry's embrace of a globalization that had devastated mill towns and industrial valleys.

This week's election paradoxically augurs both fundamental realignment and fundamental continuity.

The Republicans now know what 1968 was like for the Democrats. Blue victories in formerly bedrock Red suburbs are stunning invasions of the enemy's electoral heartland, comparable to George Wallace's and Richard Nixon's victories more than a generation ago in Northern ethnic-white, CIO neighborhoods. Meanwhile, the desperate marriage-in-hell of Palin and McCain warns of the imminent divorce of mega-church faithful and the country-club sinners. The Bush coalition built by Karl Rove's thuggish genius is breaking up.

More importantly, tens of millions of voters have reversed the verdict of 1968: this time choosing economic solidarity over racial division. Indeed, this election has been a virtual plebiscite on the future of class-consciousness in the United States, and the vote--thanks especially to working women--is an extraordinary vindication of progressive hopes.

But not the Democratic candidate, about whom we should not harbor any illusions. Although the economic crisis as well as the particular dynamics of campaigning in industrial swing states finally drove Obama to emphasize jobs, his "socialism" has been far too polite to acknowledge vast public anger about the criminal bailout or even to criticize big oil (as has off-and-on populist McCain).

In policy terms, what would have been the difference if Hillary Clinton had won instead? Perhaps a marginally better health care plan, but otherwise the result is virtually the same. Indeed it might be argued that Obama is more a prisoner of the Clinton legacy than the Clintons themselves.

Waiting in the wings to define his first 100 days is a team of Wall Street statesmen, "humanitarian" imperialists, ice-blooded political operatives and recycled Republican "realists," which will thrill hearts from the Council on Foreign Relations to the International Monetary Fund. Despite the fantasies of "hope" and "change" projected onto the handsome mask of the new president, his administration will be dominated by well-known, pre-programmed zombies of the center-right. Clinton 2.0.

Confronted with the Great Depression of globalization, of course, the American ship of state, whatever the crew, would probably sail off the edge of the known world.

Only three things, in my opinion, are highly likely:

First, there is no hope whatsoever of the spontaneous generation of a new New Deal (or for that matter, of Rooseveltian liberals) without the combustion of massive social struggles.

Second, after the brief Woodstock of an Obama inauguration, millions of hearts will be broken by the administration's inability to manage mass bankruptcy and unemployment, as well as end the wars in the Middle East.

Third, the Bushites may be dead, but the hate-spewing nativist Right (particularly the Lou Dobbs wing) is well-positioned for a dramatic revival as neoliberal solutions fail.

The great challenge to small bands of the left is to anticipate this mass disillusionment, understanding that our task is not "how to move Obama leftward," but to salvage and reorganize shattered hopes. The transitional program must be socialism itself. SOURCE: Socialist Worker

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