Friday, 5 November 2010

What the Fuck Happened?

In 2008 the Obama campaign won a term in the White House, but it also won the award for the best marketing campaign of 2008 with Apple coming in second place. Only two years on and we have witnessed the midterm annihilation of the Obama administration. Though it was not as bad as it could have been, the Democrats managed to hold onto the Senate but lost the House of Representatives to the Republicans. Before the elections Paul Jay at the Real News Network identified six reasons that the Obama administration was facing such a battering: 1. Letting the Republicans recreate themselves as "populists". 2. Furthering the same old foreign policy. 3. The failure to adequately defend the public option for health-care. 4. The failure to use the auto-bailout to build a greener economy. 5. The bailouts and the failure to restructure the financial sector. 6. The failure to investigate the Bush administration for war crimes and the negligence that led to the attacks on September 11th 2001.

These are all sound reasons to explain what may be the beginning of the end for the first administration to be led by a African-American. The problem with Obama is not that he has been "too radical" it is that he lacking even the tenacity to push through modest reform. The compromised health-care bill are instances of Obama's failure to ram through moderate changes. A serious attempt to establish universal health-care in the US would have mobilised the working-class vote in a way that not even the Southern Strategy of the GOP could.  Instead the policy-makers in the administration tossed a compromised bill to the masses, which was then voted against as the working-class was demoralised and failed to turn out to support the reform. The Democrats have a bad habit of expecting the working-classes to vote for them because of the New Deal reforms under Roosevelt. The current residents of the White House are guilty of this and it will continue to hurt the Obama administration.

On the campaign trail pundits compared Barack Obama to John F Kennedy on the grounds of Obama's charisma and exhilarating style of speaking. Though some would argue that Obama is a better speaker than JFK, Obama will probably fade away like Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton and not go down in flames like Kennedy. It should be noted that Carter, Clinton and Kennedy were not noble politicians in any estimation. The liberal intellectuals adore JFK and always have done, after all it was the Kennedys who invited so many intellectuals up to the White House for a nice pat on the head and a discussion on the works of Proust. Just as JFK secured a glowing legacy by courting intellectuals, Bush ensured a rightfully appalling legacy by proudly shunning the intellectual community. It remains to be seen whether or not Obama can save face and secure a glowing legacy to keep our descendents in the dark about his failures, but would that be a desirable outcome of this government?

Incidentally Jack Kennedy should not be viewed as a great liberal tragically shot down before he could extend equal rights to black people, bring peace to Indochina and further the reforms of the New Deal. When in actuality JFK was a rich playboy with the kind of right-wing opinions that a man like Joe Kennedy would want in a son. We should also not forget that Joe Kennedy was a vote-rigging virulent anti-Semite who made his fortune from bootlegging. It was JFK who escalated the Vietnam war, launched a campaign of terrorism against Cuba and installed a military junta in Brazil. If Kennedy had not been assassinated he could have lived long enough to be robbed of his good looks by Addison's disease and disgraced by his foreign policy. Let alone the work Kennedy put into slashing taxes for the richest 1% of Americans, which was an early step towards decimating the welfare state born out of the New Deal. The Kennedy myth was consolidated when JFK's brains were blown out the day before Doctor Who first aired, we should not buy into such a myth.

Back when Barack Obama was running for the Presidency in 2008 many cynics speculated that Obama would be assassinated soon after winning. Though if President Obama had been assassinated the legacy of his administration would have been secured and all the flaws of his policies pinned on succeeding Presidents. The premature death of this man might have saved him from the kind of disgraces that JFK "escaped". The Obama administration is suffering the consequences of failing to bring change and opting to preserve the status quo. Obama deserve to be decimated in the midterm elections, but the Republicans did not deserve to win any seats. At this point the worst case scenario for Obama is a one-term stint in the White House having accomplished little to brag about, in which case he'll be walking the footsteps of Jimmy Carter. If that is the case we could be living under a Republican administration by 2013, which could return us to the extremes of the Bushites and further the decline towards a neofeudal America.

All in all there was not much unusual about these midterm elections. Both the Republicans and the Democrats depended largely on professionals, managers and owners to turn out and vote for them. Only the most backward elements of the working-class are mobilised in the form of the Tea Party movement, which failed to smash an unpopular Democratic administration. About 75% of Americans earn less than $50,000 a year and these 225 million people only account for 37% of the total vote, which is down to low voter turn out. Turn out among the wealthy is much higher, people earning $100,000 and over make up about 6% of the population. But those 1.8 million people account for around 26% of the total vote. There is a strong bias towards the Democrats among voters earning less than $50k a year. Just as there is a bias among those earning $100k a year towards the GOP, a bias which is even more intense among voters earning $200k or more a year. The American working-class desperately await a progressive party to represent their interests.

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