My Buddy Obama
“Meet the new boss – same as the old boss”
A lot of people love Barack Obama. I hate to rain on anyone’s parade, and I don’t enjoy being the bearer of bad news, but I have to say, Obama strikes me as a poser. I’m afraid he would be a neoliberal corporate hack, a continuation of the policies of Bush and company – imperial empire abroad and war on constitutional democracy and civil rights at home – but with a pretty face, and a much more slippery façade. “Meet the new boss – same as the old boss.” Why do I say this? Take a look at the man’s voting record.
Obama, like Hilary, voted in favour of the draconian, and frankly, anti-democratic, unconstitutional, fascist legislation which is the Patriot Act. Not only did he vote in favour of this vile rights-shredding, constitution-nullifying Orwellian bill, he actually voted, along with Hilary, again, to make 12 provisions of the Patriot Act permanent. Now I don’t know about you, but a basic respect for democracy and civil rights seems like a prerequisite for any legitimate political candidate. Neither Obama nor Hilary fit this description. Both of them fail at democracy 101.
Obama furthermore, while speaking against the war in Iraq, has, like Hilary, voted in favour of every budget request from the Pentagon, voting in 2006 alone, in favour of over $580 billion of tax payer money to support the military-industrial complex, including funding requests specifically targeted to continuation of war in Iraq. Now maybe words mean more than actions, I don’t know; but if actions also count, then this man is either a liar, or has no spine. He says one thing, and votes another.
If Obama or Hilary, or anyone in the Democratic-controlled Congress were serious about ending imperial war in the Middle East, the first thing that would be done would be to pull the plug: Congress has the power not only to issue bland statements of opposition to war, but to refuse to fund it – no money, no war. It’s that simple. Because the majority of the Democrats who control Congress refuse to pull the plug on the war and stop funding it, the war continues, and Barack Obama, along with Hilary Clinton, shares directly in the responsibility for the on-going disaster – and war crimes – that is war in Iraq.
Nice words are one thing, but Congress persons and Senators act with their vote: and Obama’s record of action speaks volumes – support for wars of empire overseas, and support for the war on democracy and the Constitution at home. I wouldn’t elect him to watch my dog for the weekend.
Obama also voted to endorse John Negroponte, the man who oversaw and directed the death squads of Central America, as Director of National Intelligence. He also voted to endorse Michael Chertoff as head of the Department of Homeland Security, and Condoleeza Rice as Secretary of State. Creepy connections if you ask me.
Another consideration in the up-coming U.S. federal election is the party apparatus of the Democrats and Republicans both. It has been accurately said that the U.S. is a one party system: the Republicans and Democrats are two wings of the business party. Both party’s are deeply entwined with corporate America, both are deeply indebted to corporate America for election, party, and representative financing, both vote and act consistently to uphold and defend, not the Constitution, not civil rights and liberties, not peace, order or good government, not justice or the well-being of American citizens, and not the interests of great majority of Americans, but the interests of the corporate elite and the investment class, which they studiously represent and serve. Anyone who gains the easy endorsement of the party machinery within the Democratic or Republican bureaucracy, must be viewed with skepticism from the outset. Hilary and Obama were endorsed by the Democratic party machinery early on. The rest of the candidates were swept aside, and the media followed suit: these two are presented as the only contenders. What does this say about Hilary and Obama? They have endorsement from the party machine, which supports and is backed by the U.S. corporate elite – by far the nation’s most powerful lobby. It would most likely indicate that they have been chosen because they are considered safe: safe for the financial interests that dominate the party.
I would suggest that if you want genuine leadership, you have to look, not at the chosen heirs of the party elite, but to the long-shot, the candidates who stand little or no chance of winning the party nomination. These are the people who might actually take a stand for the people, and not just the rich.
Personally, I find no reason whatsoever to favour one party over another in the U.S. system. They are both party’s of, by and for big business interests – as the vast majority of Americans rightly view them. There are, however, a few good people in each of the official parties. I would support anyone, in either party, who favours democracy – in practice, and not just in words – who opposes the drift into fascism, and who opposes wars of empire abroad – again, in action, and not just in rhetoric.
The only two legitimate contenders in the up-coming U.S. presidential candidacy that I can see so far, are two long-shot candidates, one a Democrat, the other a Republican. They can win, and I hope one of them will. They are New Deal Democrat Dennis Kucinich, who carries on the tradition of social justice and constitutional democracy a la FDR, and traditional conservative, pro-constitution, anti-imperialist Ron Paul. God grant them the means to win, and help end this slide into a police state at home, and end the barbaric and brutal, bloody wars of empire abroad.
The long-shot candidates will not likely win the Party nomination for Presidential candidate, nor are they likely to get any major media coverage. They would have to form a campaign that is truly grassroots based: by-pass the party machinery as well as the major media conglomerates, and utilize the internet, face-to-face town hall style meetings, public rallies, and massive populist networking. This can be done. A maverick can win the U.S. election for president. It would take a lot of work, and it would take wide-spread grassroots fund-raising, avoiding the pitfalls of corporate sponsorship, as well as a popular movement to support such a candidate. But it can be done. I would like to see it happen.
The candidates that have been groomed as potential heirs to the throne, in either party, are of highly questionable legitimacy. There are others, but they need to be supported in order to win. We cannot, in any country, have a functioning democracy where everyone sits on the couch and watches the mass media play up or defame this or that candidate, doing nothing to support the people we believe would make good representatives in government, only to walk to the ballot box, and then maybe bemoan the outcome. This passive spectator politics has to come to an end if we are to see real democracy in action.
I hope I’m wrong about Obama. I would like to be. However, all evidence points to him being another corporate hack. Pretty words won’t compensate for a voting record that shows anti-democratic as well as imperialist impulses. If I’m wrong about Obama, I’d be thrilled to be enlightened. However, I don’t know how you can get around his voting record. A man who votes in favour of the Patriot Act, and in favour of continued funding for imperial war overseas, is no friend of democracy, no friend of the Constitution, and no friend of humanity, whether inside the United States, or beyond.
J. Todd Ring
April 9, 2007
See for yourself:
Voting Record of Senator Barack Obama:
Appropriations voting record – including Pentagon and Iraq war funding:
See votes on these dates:
Project Vote Smart – Representative Kucinich – Voting Record – No to the Patriot Act.
Project Vote Smart – Representative Kucinich – Voting Record
No to war funding, no to bloated defense budgets and financial – tax-payer – support for the military-industrial complex.
Project Vote Smart – Representative Kucinich – Voting Record
No to the Military Commisions Act.