Cornel West: The Modern day Griot (Part 3)

So what symbolic event could ever take place to start averting Cornel West’s notion that the US is an institutionally racist nation? Surely the one that took place early this year with the presidency of Barack Obama; America’s first African-American president.

West’s opinion on Obama has been critically supportive over the period of time in 2007 and early 2008 that he joined his campaign trail. West’s socialist tendencies have meant that he has taken a step back on promoting Obama for his economic policies due to his appointment of advisers such as Robert Rubin, the economist who was behind the financial deregulation of the Clinton years. But West considers the presidency to be symbolic on the psyche of black people and their struggles against what he considers to be America’s “white supremacy”.

Another public issue that West has recently immersed himself in is the debate over the term “post-racial America”. For West, the term’s recent importance designates a change in attitude that the white voter has of black candidates, what West calls “crossing the colour line”. Which, in his opinion, is obviously no bad thing, but it needn’t cross the line into “colour-blindness”. He goes on to say that the “black body” should be associated with “black humanity” and that the term “post-racial” is just an expression of “less racism”.

For justification, West notes that black voters have been voting on white candidates for years and, for them, it was not an expression of the post-racial, but looking for the best policies in a candidate, or, as West himself put it, apropos of the vote for a white mayor over the black candidate in Gary, Indiana, a vote based on “qualification as opposed to pigmentation”. And here, of course, he does have a major point; why should the issue of post-racial America emerge only now that there is a black president when black voters have always been looking beyond racial issues in their candidacy choice?

Whatever the outcome on the post-racial debate, West has told his supporters, and supporters of Obama in general, that the most important thing they can do is make their voices heard during his presidency years, and revitalise American democracy from its slumber. West has said that he aims to put pressure on Obama himself. In the interview with Democracy Now he stated clearly that he hoped Obama will be a “progressive Lincoln” so that West can be the “Frederick Douglass [abolitionist who held talks with Lincoln in 1863 on the treatment of black soldiers] to put pressure on him.” And my suspicions are that in the next few years he will do just that. Cornel West’s highly enthused, energetic and celebrated voice will be heard many more times to come in this new American era, and I also predict that his voice will soon start to be heard more widely in this country as well.

Not King Midas, its Gordon Brown

Today’s events have proved Michael White’s prediction wrong that the speaker will remain until next general election when he said last week “Few Labour MPs nowadays left school at 15 and worked on the shop floor. It may be solidarity or sentimentality, bloody-mindedness or plain feebleness. But they will not give him up next week.”

They did.

In the last days of Blair, those of us on the left were sick of his statesman(sinking)ship. We (including back then Polly Toynbee with her nose peg) thought butter wouldn’t melt in Brown’s mouth. Unlike Blair, not everything Brown touched would turn to stone.

It did.

The Michael Martin resignation was one more thing that went awry and out of favour for our hollowing premier. Andrew Sparrow’s bit in the Guardian mentioned that “Gordon Brown, the prime minister, has now given up saying that he thought Martin was doing a good job.” Perhaps he has seen that the odds of him becoming next speaker are 250/1 (far better than the odds of him winning Labour a fourth term).

The man who was forced down for not doing enough about the expenses scandel today said the only thing he could have, “that MPs will no longer be allowed to “flip” second homes or claim for household goods”.

Sunny Hundal imagines that a parliament clean out of system abusers will cure the ills of the political system. But since voters want to give the big three parties a kicking, why bother getting rid of those MP’s who are otherwise effective in the house (say, Ed Balls, for example) if a rule change can reunite the voting public with (Labour) establishment politics?

I’m not blind to the reasons why people feel all “abusers” should be kicked to the curb, and mine is not a justification of MP’s wrongs, anything but. However its the system that must be amended, and those politicians that have done the abusing need to work twice, (clear throat), three times as hard to appease the voters (provided they are not unwanted baggage), rather than be part of a wholesale reshuffle.

But enough about the outgoing speaker for one night, carrying on the subject of premier’s who were unpopular towards the end, but only paved the way for a lot worse, I’ve just heard that “The United Nations [have] named former President Bill Clinton … as its special envoy to Haiti, with a mission to help the impoverished nation achieve some measure of stability after devastating floods and other crises.”

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