Thu 10 Jul 2008
I heard this morning about the Reverend Jesse Jackson snafu:
A friend of mine said in a strange way it gave him hope. This friend, an Obama supporter, said that because it showed people who are supposed to know better can still make mistakes, we should take some kind of solace in it. At first, when he said he saw it as hopeful, I thought he was referring to Jackson’s much needed “feet to the fire” technique on Obama. Let’s face it, Obama hasn’t exactly been true to his supposedly liberal/progressive base. He’s pandered left and right (ok, mostly center and right). FISA, Faith-based Initiatives, softened Iraq withdrawal policy. These are not small matters.
So when I saw the footage myself, I had a very different reaction. I know a lot progressives and radicals who are actively supporting and even campaigning for Obama. I can understand why. He’s young and fresh and doesn’t seem too institutionalized by DC culture. He’s passionate and he represents a potentially huge leap in American politics and society. Would I rather see him in the White House than McCain? Yes. But my problem with him is: which Obama is going to show up January 20, 2009? And, even if the liberal/progressive Obama shows up, what will he do to undo the American empire? For example, Obama says he wants to withdraw troops from Iraq. But he wants them for Afghanistan, another imperialistic war.
Therefore, I was excited to see a leader like Jackson criticize Obama. Though, I wish he had done so in a more productive manner. It’s people like Jackson who have access to Obama, and will have access on January 21, 2009. Jackson and Jeremiah Wright (hopefully), but they will have stiff competition - multinationals, international trade organizations, Wall Street, special interest lobbyists, campaign financiers, institutionalized members of the Democratic hierarchy, inherited policy failures, huge financial and environmental obstacles, etc.
Most of my activist friends who are supporting Obama are willing to overlook the pandering. They say that they will work to influence Obama’s policies in the correct direction once he’s in office. But how much leverage will they have? Little to none, unless we see some major political cutting and sutures before then.