Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Re-election of Obama: What Forward Means

Whether you're reading your Facebook stream, or perusing the writing of journalists and pundits alike you're bound to come across a sigh of relief from the liberals in the US that Obama won (or maybe more correctly that Romney did not).  The Obama victory, as well as the senate being retained by Democrats, has been the continuation of a Democratic victory that began in 2006 in response to George W. Bush and the Republican party's toxic political legacy.  Four years ago a wave of excitement amongst liberals in the US was at it's peak with the election of the man many considered to be the leader to pull the US back from many of the most horrific policies of the Bush era.  When Obama claimed his victory in 2008 he did so with so many Americans hoping for change, that he used it as his campaign slogan.  It's no secret that there has been a wave of disappointment in the presidents first term among liberals due to things like; signing the NDAA into law, failing to close Guantanamo, and the failure to bring about a real or palpable sense of change.

However, what lies beyond the general consensus of placid dissaproval are the real meat and potatoes issues that the liberal class has all but ignored in this country.  These are the direct continuation and expansion of some of the worst Bush era policies which have either gained support or have been consciously ignored by the liberal class in America.  These policies include; the continuation of warrantless wiretapping and other domestic spy programs while at the same time immunizing telecom companies as well as the political leadership from any liability whether it be criminal or civil, extrajudicial killings of US citizens expanding on Bush's policy to not only be able to detain citizens without judicial review but to kill them, a war on whistleblowers that has seen more prosecutions under the espionage act than under every other president combined, a continued veil of government secrecy (from a president who promised an open administration), and the continuation of US hegemony in the middle east as well as the rest of the world with continuation of a war on terror and militaristic policies. 

So as the Democrats and their supporters across the nation rejoice in the victory over Romney and the GOP keeping out a new era of politics controlled by what have come to be known as "job creators," but are more rightly the wealthy elite, what do we really have to look Forward to?  It could be hard for many Americans to remember just what issues are important after an election season of each candidate attacking the other only on issues they disagreed to some degree on while ignoring the issues where their policies were in agreement.  It may also be hard for them to decipher just what the president is responsible for as many of the most hotly debated topics in the election were in fact legislative issues rather than executive issues.  For example taxes came up in debates over and over again as the candidates argued their views on tax policy and other fiscal issues.  However, a quick read of the constitution places all the powers of taxation as well as the ability to spend and borrow money in the hands of the legislative branch.  Although anyone familiar with the actual modern process of governance on the federal level will be quick to point out that the government works more along the lines of party organization than individual branches as Democratic and Republican leaders meet secretly to discuss and agree on policy.  It should be noted that this is NOT how our government was intended or designed to function.  It's these deals off the floors of the house or senate that allow negotiations between the parties and push through legislation that often have no or little support by either party's base.  One such issue will be arising very soon.

Obama and the Democratic leadership are soon expected to make a deal with Republican leaders to allow for modest tax increases in exchange for significant cuts to social and entitlement programs in order to reduce the federal deficit and possibly even begin to tackle debt in the future.  These cuts will no doubt come to programs like social security, medicare & medicaid, as well as other foundations of American liberalism.  What's coming to the US in 2013 or sooner is austerity and it's going to be enacted via bi-partisan deals that are going to be hated by what's left of the liberal class, but most likely accepted.  This is part of the political process in the US now.  First ideas that are raucously disturbing to liberals such as warrantless wiretapping or domestic spying get put into place by the "opposition" party while the Democratic leaders act disturbed and begin to criticize such policies.  However, as shown by Obama it's very easy once you assume the mantle of power to not only renege on such stances but to actually turn around and support bills that ensure immunity for those who committed the crimes.  Then when he was the one in control of the same programs he continued their expansion under a new veil of secrecy the policy has become a bipartisan policy that gains acceptance not only with the party that originated the policy but is accepted or ignored by the liberal base.

So as US Democrats support a liberal victory, they overlook that they have put into power a Democratic president and senate that will surely bring about cuts to programs they support.  What is sure to happen is that the blame for such cuts will be placed on the "evil" GOP because in order to avert massive financial and fiscal damage to our economy and government they had to make a deal with the devil.  Keep in mind this comes after a term where Obama has undoubtedly carried out a more egregious attack on our civil liberties than the previous Bush administration and yet has still managed to keep support from his base and the liberal class in general.  All this support came in spite of his political failures and anti-liberal policies mostly in fear of having an even more extreme president elected to office.  The number of pundits whose fundamental guideline in choosing a new president was to go for the seemingly less crazy of the two, because even though they may have been unhappy about Obama's first term they ran back into his arms after looking at Romney.  This type of fear based voting against the other opponent rather than for the true support of the president and his policies seems to have gripped the American public as well.  After all most of us accept that it's a choice between the lesser of two evils anyway. 

As we move forward from the election season and past the vicious campaign ads and general environment of political division that it creates, it's my hope that the American public wakes up to the fact that no matter who won, we the American public are going to lose.  In fact we've already lost.  We've lost control of the political establishment because they use money and often brilliant campaign strategies to convince the public to turn a blind eye to their abuses of power and the law as well as our own convictions and ethics.  We've lost because now corporations can fund both candidates for elections to guarantee government policies that are friendly to them.  We've lost because while the parties make plans to cut spending and tackle the public debt our political leaders ignore the actual causes of the debt problem both publicly and privately.  When quantitative easing becomes a normal state of affairs and banks are given over $16 trillion dollars in zero interest "loans" from the federal reserve in order to keep the bloated financial sector of the economy going while US manufacturing continues to suffer losses and lower worker pay rates, we lose.  When the economy minus government stimulus programs is actually smaller than it was in 2007 and yet the power to circulate money into the economy is controlled by a private central bank that creates money through debt, we lose.  When we continue sanctions on Iran which do little to the leaders but cause food instability, hunger, and general conditions of unrest in order to bring about a more US friendly regime and keep Iran from being able to defend itself against US hegemony, we lose.  When all but the smallest minority of climatologists are telling us that climate change is not only real but a grave threat to life on planet earth and no politician will take a stand against oil company lobbied policies to cut back our use of fossil fuels and invest in sustainable energy, even after a decade of increased hurricanes have pummeled the east and gulf coasts, and after a summer of record droughts, we lose.

So instead of celebrating whatever victories the liberal class in America has achieved (of which there are a few victories to celebrate) I recommend a stiff shot of honesty in regards to US politics and doing whatever you can to hold the Democrats whom you voted for accountable. Hold them accountable not just on the issues that the parties disagree on, but specifically on the policies that have now become the norm even though they go against the true ideals of the US liberal class.  If we continually allow the Democratic leadership to manufacture consent for policies not in line with our own views then we will have allowed the quasi-aristocratic elite to rise up and take hold of our nation beyond the degree that a peaceful election will be able to restore normative processes of government.  We risk allowing such a grab of power that as our world economic system continues to slide into the abyss of a cessation of growth the bankers and elite fat cats will control a system too powerful for the public to defeat.

It may sound alarmist, but when you consider the Walton family of Walmart fame has a net worth greater than the bottom 40% of US families combined and dump millions upon millions of dollars into the political system to support (or more correctly buy) a candidate which will continue to enact policies that benefit the elite, it's not so far fetched.  It's time the all too placid liberal class actually organized and took a stand for liberal ideals whether it be defeating charter schools which provide public funds to corporations to educate our children or stopping the vacuous economic policies which are turning the US more and more into the "haves" and the "have nots".  Failure to admit to the fact that the corporate state owns our government, and most of us, is not only to be dishonest but it is to be a coward in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, all because we accept their rule.  After all congress has been seeing historic lows in approval and yet we voted the vast majority of them back into office.  What could be more Orwellian than not only having an unpopular government voted back into office, but accepting that this is the way our democracy works?  Doesn't that inherently imply that our democratic institutions and our republic are broken?  As Jill Stein (Green Party candidate for the 2012 presidential election) has said "Neither Obama nor Romney has a single exit strategy from the deadly crises we face."  This responsibility lies now with the US public and those who have the moral courage to fight back against the corporate state and the government they control by holding even leaders that we supported responsible for our welfare and the welfare of the planet.  It's not a victory when the US public loses, and this election won't be a victory unless the US public stands up to hold our leaders accountable rather than continue looking the other way.

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any,”
Alice Walker

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