'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Vote Obama? A Last Minute Debate 

Slave Revolt and Erroll have engaged in a lively, pointed argument about whether you should vote for Obama today. I have edited some of the introductory remarks of Slave Revolt because I think that they disgress from the topic at hand. If you want to read his comment in its entirety, go here.

In the Affirmative: Slave Revolt

"Erroll, it is great to be 'in the know', erudite, detached from the fray, and cynically cool. This is a great posture , especially with one of those long cigarettes with the holder, dressed in a smoking robe and holding forth to equally cynical people in a parlor somewhere in Berkeley. And in these parties the booze is as lame as the hypocrisy is thick.

However, you overlooked the fact that this election is not about "Obama', the climbing, power-hungry, two-faced yuppie (the stereo-typical depiction of the horrible, sell-out Obama).

If he would have played the race for the presidency by your rules, he would likely loose.

This election victory is about the millions of Americans that have the temerity to hope (I know--what utter lumpen chumps, they deserve to be exploited and kicked in the face).

As a person that has engaged hard, physical labor for a lot of my life, I can empathize with the cynicism, and rejecting the seemingly paltry notion of 'hope', and 'change'---but I can't afford to surrender to such an attitudinal gesture.

Not this time.

My allies here in the South are hundreds of thousands of people that faced hostile police and a disinterested Justice Department--a race-baiting media and a hateful white backlash.

We are reconnecting and attempting to develop a progressive, grassroots politics on the back of this election win.

This election is about 'we the people'.

No, sorry you 'in-the-know' cynics--not this time. A Starbucks iced-mocha (grande) cannot satiate my thirst, my desire to get up from sleep and do something different, something that trumps the normal apathy that smothers the spirit of solidarity, that innate creativity and curiosity (that never killed 'that cat', that one), inextricable from my 'species-being'.

(And, yes, I do see many of the Nader or opt-out folks as still grappling with race issues. This is ignoble.)

The perfect, magic leader that will lead us all to green pastures without our having to 'hope', act, be defeated, and climb up the mountain again--got news for you: such a person NEVER shows up.

This is more about what we do as a people AFTER the election than it is about Barack Obama.

Always has been this way--no matter how much the ruling class tries to frame history in the 'great leader mold'.

I would rather ask "What would Studs say?', or, better, 'what would the everyday folks that marched in Selma, or Jackson say?

Sorry, I can't surrender what 'hope' I have left. Call me and others deluded cultists, I will not be side-tracked. Not this time.

(Tonight, while canvassing (I know, I am a chump) in an affluent, gated community I was confronted by the police. Someone called on me, of course.

I explained to the white cops that I was working with the Obama campaign, that my family are African American, though I am white. I told them how I grew up in Mississippi and had to struggle with my own white supremacist demons.

The cop called my numbers in to see if I was wanted, or a felon. Then he informed me that he had to keep my drivers license because it was slightly cracked.

Without that ID I can't vote--and the young white cop knew it. And that was/is the point.

I laughed at them and told them I had early voted. And I was a wee bit more mouthy I would be sitting in jail right now.)

On election eve I will be watching the returns with my aging, adopted African American parents. Yes, they are getting close to death, they are not in good health (James still smokes; Christine has severe diabetes). My people are not well educated. They are die-hard Baptists. James had flirted with the Black Panters (or so it was rumored) in the 1960s.

They are chumps, yes. But these are chumps with hope. I'll believe in that any day over the side-line cynicism.

Can't do that, bro--not this time.

In the Negative: Erroll

I would like to, if I may, respond to Slave Revolt's reply to me. His comment is long on emotion but short on facts. Like so many Obamaniacs, he clings to the idea that an Obama presidency will somehow bring about the idea of hope, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Slave Revolt believes that "This election victory is about the millions of Americans that have the temerity to hope". I mentioned in the other post why these are false hopes but he chose not to address what I had written. As I stated before, why should one place one's hope in a candidate who voted for reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT ACT , voted for a bill which allows domestic spying on American citizens, rescued Wall Street while abandoning those whose homes have been foreclosed, continuously funded the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, proposed a health care plan which eschews single payer while also making it mandatory for children to have health insurance, regardless of whether working families and the poor can afford such insurance?

Just as egregious is the fact that Obama offers very little if any hope for people whose faces happen to be brown. In Iraq, this [alleged] anti-war candidate wishes to leave from 50,000 to 80,000 troops in that country even after his phased [as opposed to immediate] withdrawal plan is finally completed. He also wishes to maintain 100,000 civilian contractors in Iraq which would include the infamous para military organization Blackwater. It is extremely doubtful if the Iraqis will feel much hope when they realize that the Americans under Obama have no desire to abandon their military bases nor allow the Iraqis to govern themselves.

In the same militant fashion, Obama condemned Bush at a press conference in Dayton, Ohio last month for not sending enough troops to Afghanistan, apparently believing that more Afghans should be slaughtered by 500 and 2000 lb. American bombs. Obama praised Bush's decision to send troops across Pakistan's border when he said "I am glad that the president is moving in the right direction of the policy that I have advocated for years." Again, an Obama presidency will offer no hope to the Afghans and Pakistanis [as well as quite possibly the Syrians and the Iranians] when innocent civilians and children are murdered under President Obama's directive. But this should not be surprising if Obama orders these actions as it should be recalled that, when asked by CNN's Candy Crowley if "there's anything that's happened in the past 7 1/2 years that the U.S. needs to apologize for in terms of foreign policy" this [alleged] peace candidate had the temerity to state that "No, I don't believe in the U.S. apologizing." One can only hope [to use Slave Revolt's and Obama's favorite word] that if there is ever a war crimes tribunal set up in the future, that Obama will be sitting in the dock answering those charges.

Slave Revolt asks "What would the everyday folks that marched in Selma or Jackson say?" What he neglects to mention is that Obama does not give a damn about the working class and the poor in this country [see the comment about Obama's health care plan] as he seems to take great pains in not mentioning those two words in his speeches-working class- as they might make his predominantly white crowds uneasy at that [allegedly] incendiary term. Slave Revolt also avoids bringing up the name of someone who marched in Selma and Jackson many years ago- Martin Luther King Jr. One suspects with good reason, as King would not look too kindly on someone like Obama who is intent upon making war upon third world countries. It is instructive to recall MLK's words from his Beyond Vietnam speech when he spoke about those African-Americans who have been "oppressed in the ghettos" [how often, if ever, has Obama ever mentioned those people in his speeches?] and that "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today [is] my own government." King would certainly recognize that Obama is a charlatan, a fraud, a chimera, whose hope will be translated into bombs which will rain down death and destruction upon many innocent civilians and children.

Slave Revolt thinks that my erudition and cynicism have not allowed me to see the "hope" that is the centerpiece of Obama's campaign. Unfortunately, my erudition and cynicism have not prevented or lessened my PTSD that I have experienced from my days in a place called Vietnam and that have been brought to the surface by people like Bush, McCain and that [alleged] anti-war candidate, Barack Obama. Those images that I have of Vietnamese people being killed because of what I did are now being reawakened because of Obama's murderous intentions. Obama's desire to cause more death and destruction, more misery and suffering upon people who have never threatened anyone in these United States will never make those people believe that Obama is offering them any hope just as he is not offering me or those other poor bastards who will end up like me hope from the debilitating effects of having been placed, unjustifiably, in a combat zone.

Obama's hope is about as substantial as gossamer wings. The depressing and sad part is that so many Americans have seen fit to believe that Obama, that enabler of the big corporations and the military-industrial complex, is somehow going to be an agent of change, despite, again, all evidence to the contrary.

Despite their disagreement about Obama, I believe that Slave Revolt and Erroll would agree that there is a compelling urgency for radical political change in light of the collapse of the global financial system and the US defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is not yet possible to broach this subject openly in the US political system.

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