Obama, the democrats, and the upcoming election
I just threw away my primary mail in ballot here in Boulder, Colorado. I can’t quite see the purpose of choosing which democrat should have the honor of not representing me. My feelings are certainly similar to many. It’s an amazing thing to behold – the collapse of what initially appeared to be a new progressive movement. We were all fooled.
I see the overriding problem as one of vision. Neither Obama nor any other democrat has provided a strategic vision on how the struggling American worker can overcome the massive insecurity caused by modern globalized capitalism. Not only is real unemployment over 16%, but nearly all employed Americans face the risk of outsourcing or job loss from the ever faster pace of job reducing technology. He / she is forced to compete against billions of foreign workers who are paid just pennies on the hour. The American worker is unable to save for retirement since the wage is barely sufficient, if that, to make ends meet. Health care is the most expensive in the world and a job loss puts the worker at huge risk of ending up with no coverage. In sum, the American worker has probably never been in worse shape.
In the face of these massive insecurities what does Obama propose to do? As best I can judge, it’s something like this:
1) No major additional stimulus beyond a few token extensions of unemployment. Even here, he has not pushed too hard. There is no mention of a jobs program.
2) Sneaky silent support for the concept of cutting social security. The deficit commission members appointed by Obama are all in favor of cuts. Obama is hiding behind the commission which doesn’t report until after the election. There’s also sneaky support from many democrats for a consumption tax – i.e. a further reduction in living standards for working Americans.
3) Passing a health care reform that incredibly doesn’t even take effect until two years after the next presidential election. It’s also a gift to the insurance and pharmaceutical industries that is justifiably open to attack from those on the right. (I do think it’s better than nothing, though.)
4) Expanding domestic surveillance beyond what was approved by the Bush administration. The security state that is being created poses a serious risk to freedom.
5) Expanding the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. There’s no geo-strategic change in this administration from the long post war history of American overseas adventures.
Domestically, Obama’s policies appear far closer to Hoover than Roosevelt. In foreign policy, maybe closer to Truman – i.e. active and pro military. There’s no progressive vision in this White House, it stands for nothing beyond status quo neo-liberalism, and it should not be supported.