Day one of the Obama presidency has passed, and “it is time to reenergize ourselves and prepare for the fight of our lives.” Time to do battle with a corporatist White House whose “contradictions have already begun to show themselves.” The Obama of the mass imagination must now give way to the leader of a real life center-right administration intent on resurrecting the power of Wall Street and expanding the size and scope of the military. “Millions of people who have never been active before, or who feel bamboozled by Obama, will be primed and ready to join in the good fight for justice and for peace.”
The Good Fight
by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
“If there were ever a time for righteous wrangling and bickering, it is now.”
Eight years ago, the presidential candidate who was actually defeated at the polls managed to be sworn in as the 43rd president of the United States. The election theft was followed by the theft of public assets and blatant law breaking. It is easy to understand why the departure of George W. Bush invokes renditions of “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead.”
Unfortunately the witch is not dead. The witch is a political system controlled by the dictates of wealthy individuals and big corporations who are all very much alive. They realized before anyone else did that the Republican brand was failing, and a new product line was needed.
Fortunately for them, a master marketer came along in the nick of time and allowed them to stay in the game. One year ago Barack Obama won the Iowa caucuses and proved that he could become president. More to the point, he proved that white people would vote for him. Doubt about his chances for success disappeared in the black community and so did any memory of the way that a dedicated mass movement forced change on a nation.
“The Republican brand was failing, and a new product line was needed.”
Now Obama is president and there is great joy and excitement throughout most of the country. There is quite literally no way to escape his face or his words. His image is everywhere and casual conversations, church sermons and staff meetings somehow turn into Obama loveathons.
It is easy to feel demoralized and defeated when any mention of dogs inevitably turns into a discussion about his daughters’ new puppy. The feelings of defeat are magnified by the non-stop barrage of media, endlessly repeating that a wonderful history is being made, and by the very real emotions that the faithful so readily exhibit.
Now that the inaugural parties are over, it is time to reenergize ourselves and prepare for the fight of our lives. If we do not, we are no better than the new president who cynically tells the easily fooled that they shouldn’t “bicker” or “wrangle” over their political rights but instead accept the dictates of their overlords. If there were ever a time for righteous wrangling and bickering, it is now.
It is time to seriously study the history which tells us that change has always come from relatively small numbers of people. Most of the black clergy did not support Martin Luther King when he began his campaign for justice. Most women who profited from the feminist movement shrank from identifying themselves as feminists. We should know that we don’t have the luxury or need of complaining that Obama detractors are currently a small group. Small groups have always accomplished a great deal, and they get larger and more effective when they refuse to capitulate. The Obama inauguration marks the beginning of a new era of political activism. The contradictions will quickly become evident when the feel good candidate actually begins to wield power as president.
Those contradictions have already begun to show themselves. The gay Obama supporters who were offended by the choice of Rick Warren as an inaugural preacher will not be so easily mollified after the next insult. His straight supporters certainly took notice when their brothers and sisters were not only insulted but were lectured and told that their feelings were irrelevant.
“The contradictions will quickly become evident when the feel good candidate actually begins to wield power as president.”
A day will come when Obama can’t hide behind a lame duck administration and mutter that there is “only one president at a time.” Israel’s murder and aggression will continue after the destruction of Gaza, and the naïve supporters who thought he might conduct a truly new foreign policy will turn their backs on him in disgust and anger when bombs fall in Lebanon or Gaza or Iran.
The past year has been difficult for those progressives who were thwarted in their desire to make demands on the candidates. As always happens in trying times, useful lessons are plentiful for those who are ready to look for them. We know that debating the diehard Obama supporter is a waste of time. We also know that we are not alone in wanting to effect real change in the system. Millions of people who have never been active before, or who feel bamboozled by Obama, will be primed and ready to join in the good fight for justice and for peace.
Don’t worry that Obamamania is still in the air, or that the sight of a black couple dancing at an inaugural ball can turn eyes misty. Everyone is not crying for joy because Barack Hussein Obama is sitting behind the Oval Office desk. His true loyalties will become more and more evident, and so will opposition to them, if the fighters just stay in the ring.
* Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR.