Monday, October 29, 2012

Obama's Betrayals Made Romney Credible

Everybody's biting their nails and holding their breath. What's going to happen? Who's going to win? The "Hollywood liberal" machine is out in full force with clever ads by luminaries like Joss Whedon of Avengers, Buffy and Firefly fame and hipster filmmaker Lena Dunham chiming in. There's no doubt that this is a dramatic finish and I've been reading coverage and watching the videos as avidly as the next person.

But this dramatic finish begs a question: how is Mitt Romney, a bigoted snobby billionaire with a lunatic Tea Party running mate, even a contender? I mean the stuff coming out of the mouths of Republican candidates about rape alone ought to make them little more than laughing stocks. That they are the candidates of one of the two main American political parties is a testament to how backwards and steeped in anti-intellectual superstition America has become. But it also tells us something about the failure of the Obama presidency.

Who doesn't remember the Obama rallies last time around - tens of thousands of people chanting "Yes, we can!", a slogan taken from the mass mobilizations of the immigrants rights movement. It seemed like everybody from every progressive social movement back then - from unions to gay rights to anti-war activists - was pouring into the campaign. Here was an opportunity to change America to a kinder, gentler nation after years of George W. Bush, proud ignoramus and spoiled brat.

What happened was the record of Obama. The bailouts went to the banks and the car companies - not to the ordinary people losing their homes in their millions. Gay rights, in particular gay marriage, was immediately shelved, leading to the first mass mobilizations demanding Obama do something. He didn't. Obama eventually drew down US troop presence in Iraqi cities - but he ramped it up in Afghanistan and increased the use of illegal, civilian killing drone strikes inside of Pakistan's borders. He promised comprehensive health care and instead came up with a plan that is a gift to the health insurance corporations. He has supported Israel's ongoing torment of the Palestinian people pretty much blindly and refuses to even smackdown the compulsive warmongering of the Middle East's colonial-settler state viz Iran. The list goes on.

Don't get me wrong, I think that Romney is an odious human being who lives on another planet. And were I in the USA I'd take the thirty seconds of democracy you get every few years and I'd put an "X" next to Obama's name. But I have no illusions that he behaves fundamentally any different in office than the Republicans with whom he has been more than happy to compromise over the last four years. He will do the same next time around. It is exactly for that reason that Romney is in the running and that the focus of the election has become not the issues but the maneuvering and marketing of the election campaign - who spends the most money, who has the most volunteers, etc. Until America produces a credible third party that is built out of the struggles of working people and the oppressed - rather than the crackpot pet projects of lunatics like Ross Perot - America will continue to be a two-party dictatorship (or, rather, one party with two wings).

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