Monday, August 10, 2009

The Silent Roar of the Crowd

The silence is deafening. The crowds that roared their adulations and joy in Chicago’s Lincoln Park last November are quiet. The only noise we hear is that coming from the right. Paul Krugman notes that, “Mr. Obama’s backers seem to lack all conviction, perhaps because the prosaic reality of his administration isn’t living up to their dream of transformation. Meanwhile, the angry right is filled with a passionate intensity.”

Obama ran as a centrist. This was obvious in June of last year when he voted to approve the FISA extension, right after he had waffled on his pledge to reform NAFTA. However, the masses didn’t see it that way. His promises of, “Change you can believe in,” and his chant, “Yes we can!” raised the public’s expectations of a sweeping revolution as soon as he took office.

I suspect a lot of his appeal came from the fact that he had an inarticulate Bush and a doddering McCain as foils.

The public should have realized that the revolution wasn’t going to happen as soon as he started talking about “consensus building.” Revolutions aren’t built on consensus. The idea of a revolution is to radically alter and literally reform an existing structure of power. Yet, it is a fact that those who hold power will not yield it through consensus. There may be a little window dressing, but power clings to itself unless this power is torn from its hands, and the only way to do this is to amputate the hands that hold it.

Attempting to compromise with power is doomed to fail because the compromise is always on power’s terms. We are seeing this with the thousand-page health bill which is a Byzantine exercise in bureaucratic chaos and confusion. Under the guise of providing “public” coverage, the insurance companies will make out like bandits when coverage becomes mandatory. The part that provides for a government sponsored policy will never see the light of day. The Blue Dogs will see to that.

Right now, Obama’s silenced followers fall into two camps: those who are totally disillusioned with him, and those who cling to the belief that it’s only a matter of time before his progressive soul is revealed.

Speaking of FDR’s New Deal, Joe Bageant points out that, “Capitalism is a parasitic disease of human society and the earth to begin with, so it’s rather like giving a dying tapeworm vitamins.” In the tradition of FDR, Obama continues to feed the worm.


Cirze said...

And is governing from the right.

Can't be said enough.

Thanks for your reporting.

Exactly what I had thought about saying, except I would have added that any progressives who are still hoping for change from Obama are delusional.


Obama ran as a centrist.

Unknown said...

The President has no wish to preside over a violent revolution which is most likely what would occur if the attempt was made to amputate the hands that hold power. There are many sources of power, not just one or a few. The President is providing leadership and supporting him is the patriotic and intelligent thing to do. The constant sniping attacks, though verbally clever, are destructive and petty.

Case Wagenvoord said...

Patriotism is the obligation of a free citizen in a free country to criticize his leader roundly when necessary. To demand a polite silence is to reduce patriotism to what Johnson called the last refuge of scoundrels.

It is hardly "petty" that we have an economy on life support, people being thrown out of their homes and out of their jobs, while we have a president who is more concerned about helping the bankers who created the mess in the first place without demanding a quid pro quo for showering them with our tax dollars, such as natinalizing them and replacing their top management.

Armed rebellions start when a leader raises expectatins and then dashes them, as Obama has.

To remain silent in the face of his mismanagement is to encourage its continuance.

If this is pettiness, then I am proudly petty.