Are Democrats supporting the real Obama, or the idea of Obama?
In his best-selling book “Breaking the Spell,” the philosopher Daniel Dennett proposed that a large number of religious believers didn’t really believe in the dogma and tenants of their particular religion, but instead in the idea of belief itself. That is to say that they wanted the effects, or the idea of religion to be true, such as eternal life, forgiveness of sins, the possibility of healing and other miracles through prayer, etc., but if forced into a corner didn’t really swallow virgin births, talking snakes, worldwide floods, and the rest of the nonsense. Such “believers in belief” will pick-and-choose which of their religions’ dogma’s they will believe, which they will ignore, and which of the principles they will follow, and which they will not. As an example, the overwhelming majority of “practicing Catholics” ignore the Vatican’s admonitions concerning birth control, and most (according to surveys) are unaffected by the church’s weak response to the problem of pedophile priests. You can imagine the uproar if it was, say, an atheist group systematically raping small boys, but even though the current Pope managed a good deal of the cover-up, the organization is still functioning, and still has its share of “believers.”
We are seeing the same phenomena in this presidential election cycle, on both sides of the debate, but especially on the Democratic side. A large number of Democratic voters (most of whom call themselves Liberals) want so much for the idea of Obama to be true that they are willing to forget or ignore most of his actions over the last four years. In a likewise manner, they want so much for the idea of America to be true that they still believe that elections can make a difference, and somehow, if Obama has another four years, he will stop the killing, bring the jobs back, restore the Bill of Rights, lessen the inequity in wealth distribution, take steps to mitigate the effects of global warming, and restore the “American Dream.” They can engage in such magical thinking because they have developed the skill of ignoring not only the current political reality, but also the reality of who Obama is, and who he’s working for. Their magical thinking allows them to accept behavior from Obama for which they would excoriate a Republican, such as murdering women and children by the hundreds in an illegal drone war waged over an entire region, and approving any scheme by the oil companies, no matter the cost to the environment.
They can see the reality of the Republican slate and platform well enough, and react with the appropriate disdain but then, like an addict comparing their own insides to other people’s outsides, they compare that regressive platform with the idea of Obama, not the reality. If they were looking at the reality of Obama, they would see a President who toed the Wall Street, big oil, multi-national corporation line throughout his presidency, doing their bidding at every opportunity. They would see the man who appointed Larry Summers and Tim Geithner, signaling Wall Street that his administration would be conducting business as usual. They would see the man who cut a deal with the health insurers precluding single-payer, or even a public option before the negotiations even started in the House. They would see the man who abandoned card-check, and the union workers in Wisconsin, after running as pro-union.
A realistic look at the Nobel Peace Prize winner would reveal the man who tried every diplomatic trick in the book to keep us in Iraq past the expiration of the Status of Forces agreement, until we were finally thrown out kicking and screaming. And then there’s the escalation in Afghanistan, and the drones, always the drones. Without a doubt, they’re the finest creator of terrorists ever devised. I don’t intend to go into the whole extended litany of Obama’s actions; I think you get my drift.
Obamapoligists insist that those of us who see him for what he is are comparing our expectations to his performance, and ignoring the Republican obstructionism that seemingly thwarted his every effort. What they fail to realize is that, in most cases, Obama either capitulated to Republican demands, or compromised before negotiations even began, such as during the health care debate. We are not judging him upon the basis of his performance; we are weighing him by what should be universally accepted standards of truth, justice, and human decency, and finding him seriously wanting.
Running as the “peace” candidate, then increasing our commitment in Afghanistan, trying to extend our occupation of Iraq, increasing murderous, illegal drone warfare, and extending it to additional countries, these things are deal-breakers for some of us, and should be for all progressives. He campaigned as an environmentalist and then sold us out to big oil at every turn. He made a show of “vetoing” the Canadian sludgepipe, then turned around and approved the southern half. He allowed drilling and fracking everywhere, and did virtually nothing to further the development of renewable resources. A Constitutional lawyer, he signed the NDAA with the provision allowing the indefinite detention of American citizens without due process. Even though he assured us that he would never use it, his Justice Department is vigorously appealing the decision of a Federal judge which declared the provision unconstitutional. This, coupled with his insistence that he can murder Americans without due process, so long as he declares them “enemies of the state” is another one of those pesky deal-breakers for some of us.
If you support Obama as a candidate, you are saying that you are in favor of these actions, and want these policies to continue. To believe he’s going to do anything differently in his second term is engaging in more of that magical thinking that got us into this mess in the first place.
I’m tired of hearing the argument that “Romney would be a disaster,” or “the Supreme Court would be more conservative.” Actually, if it were possible for Romney to win this election, it would probably be the best thing for the country in the long run. Why? Obama can get away with doing anything, as far as the left is concerned. After the election, he will “make a deal” on Social Security, lowering benefits and increasing the retirement age, in fact, he’s already said he supports it. The left will go along with it, because he’ll sell it as the “best deal he could get,” just like he sold the insurance company bonanza that is Obamacare. The left will go along with his approval of the northern half of the sludgepipe, and probably the bombing of Iran as well. Actually, there’s almost nothing he won’t be able to get away with.
Romney, on the other hand, won’t be able to get away with anything. He’ll do the exact same things Obama would have done, but the left won’t stand for it. Not for a moment! Romney doing the same things, might even put hundreds-of-thousands of people in the streets, which will be the only way this country might have a chance of surviving.
The system we’re living under is rotten to the core. Our government, all three branches, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of our banks and major corporations. We’ve run out of time for incremental changes and tweaks to the system, it must be replaced. The effects of climate change: the food and water shortages, relocations, and increasingly violent weather, are going to be combined with another major economic crash, and coming energy shortages due to the effects of peak oil, and upsets in the Middle East.
Our government is fully aware of these facts. Why, for goodness sake, has Homeland Security purchased and distributed millions of rounds of .40 hollow point ammunition, which is illegal under the Geneva Convention? Why have police forces all across the land been equipped to the point where some of them could defeat most countries armies? Why has our society become the most heavily surveiled in the entire world? Do you really think that voting for one candidate or the other is going to change where all this is headed? If you do, I’m afraid that you’re just engaging in more of that magical thinking I mentioned.
The forces governing this country, under our system of Inverted Totalitarianism, aren’t afraid of elections, speeches, petitions on Facebook, and certainly not the media they control. They’re only afraid of what the American people could do if enough of us rise up and just plain refuse to work within the system any more. General strikes, peaceful civil disobedience in large numbers, removal of funds from major banks, filling the streets, that’s what might get their attention, not voting for a “green” candidate or one of the duopoly.
This election is merely a distraction. They’re counting on American’s propensity for magical thinking, and that most of us will vote and carry-on because we believe in the idea of America, and don’t look deeply enough to see the reality of what it’s become.