The Obama pipe dream

Robert B. Reich has a good piece over at The American Prospect about the Democrat party and the dwindling support from left wingers.

Reich refers to his friend “David”. Among other things he is:

upset about tens of thousands of additional troops being sent to Afghanistan, a watered-down cap-and-trade bill that’s going nowhere, and no Employee Free Choice Act.

“They’re all lily-livered wimps [the Democrats], and Obama has the backbone of a worm.”

I’ve written before on the problems of the broad church voting for Obama – not so much a problem for him, it worked well for him – but the problem of groups who saw in Obama the solution to all their problems. As I said last year:

Obama seemed to signify the saviourhood for every group that felt penialised; for Mexicans, despite usually being Catholic conservative and anti-abortion, voted in force for Obama. The socialist/liberal/left saw in Obama a revolutionary streak that gave appeal to the Democrats rather than wellmeaning fringe parties (such was the problem with Al Gore’s election loss, though, of course, Ralph Nader will tell you different). And also from the right, Wall Street voting trends took to voting Obama, Colin Powell cut ties with his party and that once hardcore Hegelian neo-liberal Francis Fukuyama put the final touches to destroying his illusion that libertarianism would be the final stage in history.

Part of the Obama appeal was to symbolise strength from vulnerability; here is an African-American who has been subject to prejudice prevelant in society today, and has come out the other side one of the most powerful man in the world. So straight away Obama had two camps: those who hated/had enough of Bush and/or felt they were vulnerable and/or marginalised, and sought inspiration from the candidate, rather than his predecessor, parachuted in and making a pig’s ear of the whole operation.

What surprised me after Obama’s first year, was how much it was a surprise for people when the honeymoon period was up.

Al Sharpton for example, with inimitable naivety, said in an article: “Obama’s first year has shown that the United States is not a post-racial society“.

While it is a crime that many Americans find themselves without insurance and suffer very much for it, few progressives recognised how little Obama was actually doing to change that.

Earlier this year I noted:

The bill mandates every person (or, rather, around 95% of Americans) to be insured, and for every family not on Medicaid – means tested health program for eligible individuals and families with low incomes and resources – receive public funds from the federal government to purchase what [Bill] Wharton [of the Socialist Party USA] has called “bare bones” coverage insurance plans from private insurers.

Because the reform is not into a single-payer system (like a nationalised, government subsidised system) Wharton suggests that this mandate, among other things, enhances private profit, and is therefore not as radical as it has been promoted to be, particularly by the American right wing media.

So, in keeping with the tone of the article by Reich; who gives a toss about the tea partiers, it’s their job to hate Obama, and they do so for often small beer reasons, other times utterly ridiculous ones (those posters with Obama dressed as Hitler or Stalin were quite stupid). The correct attitude here is to remember those on the left who have awoken from that popularity contest spell, like Reich’s friend David, and others.

His article rightly concludes:

With the election of Barack Obama, many on the left found comfort in the belief that a single man could make transformative change without powerful tailwinds behind him. But that was a pipe dream.


2 Responses to The Obama pipe dream

  1. Left Outside says:

    I am amazed at how people pinned such high hopes on Barack Obama.

    Frankly its not his legislative programme which has made him unpopular though, the health care/cap and trade/ fin reg underperformance would be painted as fantastic if the economy were doing better.

    But because of obstructionist Republicans and “moderate” democrats in congress the economy sucks, people don’t have jobs and everything he’s done looks poor.

    Don’t get me wrong, it has been poor, but people have only focussed on this because the economy sucks aresholes.

    • ah, the old expressions are the best aren’t they.

      Well of course I can see your caution here; it’s quite easy to say Obama failed here and there but context is all – the economy is up arsehole’s creek, sans poodle.

      And this is not his fault, it is the fault of both deregulation of the housing market and the absolute inability for the housing market to even be regulatable.

      As of this, Obama has had trouble making the most of his “revolution”.

      But I’m not sure how far we can say something like a good national health service would be a problem in the current climate in the states, I should imagine the saturisation of the healthcare bill had more to do with the efforts of one or two lobbyists for the medical insurance hierachy, at least that is the contention of Bill Wharton. Or worse, perhaps Obama has no political will to have a decent state subsidised health service – perhaps this is a step too far.

      I might add that if Obama was anyone else, we’d probably write him off as a kind of moderate Democrat, not too engaging but better than the Republicans. The Obamavolution was bought lock, stock and barrell by the left – why?

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