Thursday, July 17, 2008

Wishful Thinking

How far will Obama go to assure the ruling classes and the influential lobbies Democrats pander to that he is at least as trustworthy a steward of their interests as the doddering, war-mongering erstwhile napalm dropper John McCain?

Since defeating the Clintons – the one thing he has so far been good for – Obama seems ready to go far indeed. Upon becoming the presumptive nominee, he began his rightward trek by paying obeisance to AIPAC, the vital center of the Israel lobby. He has only gone down hill from there. Why not? He knows that he has a large base for which he is either the Great (non)-White Hope and/or the Second Coming of Jimi Hendrix. They will not desert him. With the primaries behind him, he therefore feels free to reveal himself to be the Clintonite he has always been.

For media pundits, it’s a win- win- strategy. Waxing Clintonite will assuage the Democrats’ paymasters and the kinder, gentler War Democrats who lead the party and populate its House and Senate caucuses. According to the conventional wisdom, it will also draw “independents” into the Obama fold. By this, the pundits do not mean the people who are too (small-d) democratic to vote for Democrats or who make the reasonable but ill-advised decision not to vote at all. They mean the mindless “moderates” who are either too uninformed, too apolitical, too morally debased, or too stupid to realize what lesser evilism requires.

[As I have argued repeatedly, our un-democratic electoral institutions force lesser evilism upon us. To get beyond it, it is not enough to “just say no,” though the Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney (Green Party) campaigns make that prospect tempting (and, for persons living in “safe” states, reasonable). To diminish lesser evilism’s hold upon our political life, the institutions that stifle the expression of voters’ real preferences must themselves by changed.]

If Obama’s VP pick is someone even to the right of himself, Hillary Clinton or one of her close allies or one of Joe Lieberman’s many Democratic co-thinkers, it will be clear that there are no limits to his rightward drift. I’d wager – say, 3 to 1 – that this is the case.

But there is a chance, a small but non-negligible one, that having shored up his “fascist pig” credentials, Obama will choose someone with better politics than his own (or rather with better politics than Obama is willing to fess up to). John Edwards is an obvious example; so too, these days, is Al Gore. Even Bill Richardson or Chris Dodd would do. There are other, more imaginative, possibilities. Were Obama to do so, he just might, for a while longer, “keep hope alive,” as one of his more illustrious out of favor supporters might say.

But, of course, this is wishful thinking. Obama won’t change for the better, unless he is compelled to do so either by circumstances or by a militant Democratic base. If, in the next few months, the economic situation deteriorates rapidly or the Bush wars worsen, circumstances might force Obama onto a better track. Unfortunately, this is more likely than the more welcome alternative – that Obama’s base will revolt. With Obamamania still rife, there is little reason to expect Democratic voters to rise to their responsibilities. But who knows? As Obama careens into full-fledged Bush/McCain territory, he just might overreach. Then a deceived and outraged electorate might just force him to do the right thing.

As I suggested in the entry that precedes this one, Obama very likely does know better than appearances suggest. The problem is to get him to act accordingly. It won’t be easy. But a decent running mate -- for example, one who puts the elimination of poverty and/or environmental security at center stage -- would make the task a lot easier. Too bad it’s so unlikely to happen.

1 comment:

Shakespere said...

Hi. I enjoyed your blog. It is interesting.