“Now is not the time for small plans. Now is the time to finally meet our moral obligation.”
–Barack Obama, 2008 Democratic Nomination Acceptance Speech
I’ve been following the Obama story with great interest, and saw most of the big speeches from the Democratic National Convention. This is unusual for me, because I’d stopped listening to politics for the most part. Obama definitely has charisma, and is a spectacular orator.
And the thing that is throwing me off, is that I actually agree with 8 out of 10 things he says. This is unprecedented. Even when I supported Nader in 2000, it was probably 7 out of 10.
However, past experience (namely Clinton in 1992-1997 or so) tells me that politicians like this, even one as obviously skilled as Obama, are all talk. I remember the euphoria from 1992 when Clinton was elected. I remember thinking, “we won.” And yet, by 1996 I was thinking that in his 2nd term, Clinton would actually do things to change the world in his 2nd term, when he didn’t have to worry about re-election. But by 2000, things were worse and I was really disillusioned about the American political process.
The point I have to remember is one I’ve articulated many times on this blog: Democrats and Republicans each serve the power structure in different ways. Republicans push the line as far as they can get away with, and the Democrats hold position, offering a little relief (at least in comparison), until the next Republican president takes office.
The point of American politics is not to actually solve problems, but rather to pacify the American people into idle, comfortable submission and apathy. Therefore, no politician in his right mind will say something that isn’t immediately agreeable.
So my biggest problem with all this is that it’s just a political system that I don’t trust, that I believe is broken, and that I don’t see how can be fixed. So why participate in it? On the other hand, the pragmatic argument is that suffering is likely to ease somewhat if Obama ends up president. But who knows.
So even if we assume that the system works, a point that I’m very much NOT prepared to grant, there are still many problems with all this.
- One important issue to me is the issue of intellectual property, as readers of this blog doubtlessly know. Joe Biden is on the wrong side of intellectual property debate. This alone makes it difficult to get behind Obama/Biden.
- I find it ironic that Obama said that Bill Clinton made “the case for change as only he can make it” during his speech, given how the issue of change was itself precisely the cornerstone of my disillusionment and disappointment during the Clinton administration.
- Whatever happened to “war is good for the economy”?
- It’s extremely interesting that, 8 years after the Nader run in 2000, Obama is using Nader’s argument for change. But rather than “there is no difference between Republicrats and Demicans,” he’s saying “there is no difference between the Bush administration and a possible McCain administration.” Perhaps Nader’s message has been absorbed more deeply than many realize.
- I have a HUGE issue with the Democrat’s repeated insistence on clinging to outmoded ideals that “a job is dignity.” One’s work is one dignity, whether or not one is waged for it. The fact that people must wageslave for 40 hours per week, and still struggle to meet their economic obligations under the system of wageslavery, is criminal. For all his hope, Barack Obama still believes that making sure MORE people participate in this system is the best way to help the American economy.
All these arguments are true, and plain to my eye. However, I still must concede that the pragmatic argument above carries weight in my soul. If Obama becomes President, it is likely that suffering will be reduced compared to a Bush or McCain presidency. Therefore, vote for Obama.
It is because of this argument, and ONLY because of this argument, that as it stands now I will vote for Obama in November. But I will NOT allow my participation in American politics to end there. The system is broken, and needs a serious upgrade.
Good citizenry goes beyond voting once every leap year.