What Are We Waiting For? by Joel S. Hirschhorn

by Joel S. Hirschhorn
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
May 19, 2008

Long before the disastrous George W. Bush administration, I had been waiting for profound, systemic changes in our political system.  Perversely, I saw the upside of Bush as motivating more Americans to demand political change.  And that happened.  But the national yearning for change was co-opted by Ron Paul on the right and Barack Obama on the left while John Edwards with the most authentic populist change message fizzled out early.

It is not enough to want, demand and support change, not when change is more of a campaign slogan than a carefully detailed set of reforms.  Critically needed is a firm understanding of what specific changes can restore American democracy and remove the privileged rich plutocrats and corporatists running and ruining our nation.

A huge fraction of Americans have bought into the Obama candidacy because of his polished and effective rhetoric.  But Obama does not offer the changes I have been waiting for, or the ones the public needs.  A great speaker does not necessarily have the courage or intent to fight for deep political reforms.

Our nation’s Founders did not create the United States of America just with smiles and slick rhetoric; they were bold, risk-taking revolutionaries fighting tyranny.  Obama has not defined our domestic tyranny and told us how he will try to abolish it.  Obama is no dissident or revolutionary.  The change he mostly seeks is moving from senator to president.  Not what I have been waiting for.

There is no evidence in Obama’s brief political career that he is a champion for deep political reforms to transfer power from the plutocrats to the people.  To the contrary, the more you learn about Obama’s history the more he appears as just another super-ambitious politician making friends, using people and cutting deals to get ahead.

To begin with, I have been waiting for a potential president that speaks out against the over-powerful two-party system that sucks up money from all countless corporate and other special interests.  I have never heard a word from Obama to indicate he understands the many harmful effects of the two-party plutocracy and the need to open up our political system to a much wider spectrum of beliefs and strategies.  Instead, Obama cleverly talks about bipartisanship just as many other Democrats and Republicans have, because that maintains the two-party status quo.

If Obama believed in opening up the political system he would, for example, advocate opening up televised presidential debates to third party candidates and removing the many obstacles the two parties have built to limit ballot access to third party and independent candidates.  He would also openly call for replacing the Electoral College with the popular vote for president.

If Obama truly wanted to get rid of big, corrupting money from corporate and other special interests, then he should be advocating a constitutional amendment that would remove all private money from political campaigns and change the US system to totally publicly financed campaigns.  Only a constitutional amendment can accomplish this.  Campaign financing reforms by Congress are a distraction and next to useless.

And if Obama really supported universal health care, then he would have concluded as nearly all experts have that the nation needs a single payer insurance system that puts an end to the rape of the public by the insurance and pharmaceutical industries.

Change?  Absolutely.  But real systemic, root changes that reform and transform the current system by changing the power structure that both major parties have nourished over many decades.  What is so clear to millions of people highly skeptical of the Obama-as-political-messiah fiction is that he has not earned the presidency through diverse political and leadership accomplishments.

Sure, none of the other candidates are any better than Obama – not Hillary Clinton, not John McCain.  More worthy candidates based on experience and authenticity succumbed to many bizarre forces and media disinterest.  It is too late to enlighten ardent Obamatons, but millions of voters will justify voting for Obama as the lesser evil candidate.  That proves how bankrupt our political system really is.  Now is the time to reject the two-party plutocracy and vote for third party and independent candidates, such as Ralph Nader.  Yes we can!  Voters that define themselves as independents should assert their independence by rejecting candidates from both major parties

With a longer view of history, there really is something worse than John McCain becoming president.  It is once again upholding the periodic shift of power between the two major parties that stabilizes their tyranny.  Just as the Bush administration has built demand for change so too would a McBush presidency.  Maybe then in 2012 a true, trustworthy and proven agent of change would have a shot at the presidency.  However, electing Obama will set back things back.  He will only disappoint us and drain all the pent up demand for change by delivering, at most, some cosmetic actions.  Just like his recent decision to wear a flag lapel pin.

The right question is not whether this African American can win the general election, it is SHOULD he be president?

After a few years as president, millions of people would realize that Obama is not the political salvation people have been waiting for.  Of course, he would then focus on getting a second term, with more seductive smiles, empty platitudes and false promises.  Why not?  It worked the first time.


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Nader for President 2008

4 thoughts on “What Are We Waiting For? by Joel S. Hirschhorn

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  3. Great comment Libhomo. And wonderful article. Ones like these always depress me, because they are true. I’d love to vote for Kucinich. But I can’t. I think the first step is having an electorate prepared to hear what they have to say, and education is first. Opening up the media would pave the way for a more informed public.

    There was a great comment at the end that I had not thought of before, that being that a McCain presidency would prime the people of the US for even more change. But we run the risk of never getting there, or sacrificing the people of Iran, Iraq, Venezuela and Cuba just so that people here are finally crapped on enough to try something new.

    I personally, am prepared to give Obama the benefit of the doubt. I do believe he is playing the game he needs to play to be elected. If he said the kind of stuff that we here like to hear, he’d be in a drawer or a box like Kucinich, Nader and McKinney. I have never had a candidate that I thought was as intelligent and well thought as Obama, and am dying to see what diplomacy and decency do for the presidency here. He could be just another asshole barely getting by, but he also could be a huge force for an enduring change, albeit a smaller one than Dennis and Ralph could bring about.

  4. One flaw I see in this analysis is a historical misunderstanding of the Democratic Party and Democrats like Obama (and FDR and Truman). Democrats tend to follow and accommodate political movements rather than lead them. Republicans tend to resist them.

    Under this set of circumstances, the most important thing is to build the social and political movements.

    As for electoral politics, Progressives ideally would split their vote between Obama and the Green candidate (not Nader) in such a way that Obama wins, but the Green vote poses an electoral challenge to the Democratic Party in the future.

    Given the crises our country is facing, we need Obama in the White House, but we need as much pressure from the left on him as possible.

    Voting for Nader is counterproductive, because it makes it easier for “Keating Five” McCain (who is dramatically worse than Obama) to win in the short run while doing nothing to build a real third party in the long run. It accomplishes sending a message, but voting Green or for Obama does much more than that.

    The Green Party may be frustrating and fragmented now, but if enough people start voting for it, more serious political organizers will gravitate towards it.

    Ralph Nader, like anyone else, has every right to run. However, progressives need to think more tactically and strategically rather than getting caught up in his admirable personality.

    Regardless of which candidates progressives support, the support should be done strategically in ways that promote progressive ideology and political goals. Candidates should be seen as political tools, not political ends.

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