Obama’s election organisation secured $640 million (more than McCain) and while Obama’s team boasted that most of their money came from small $100 and $200 donors, in truth the great bulk of his financial support came from Wall Street and the US corporate elite . The US power elite bankrolled the Obama campaign and for no other reason than that they know he will have to repay their loyalty. The outcome of US elections carries one truth: namely that whichever candidate becomes president, he has but one remit once in office – to further the interests of the US corporate elite.
Obama made no secret during his campaign of his “moderate” political outlook. A central theme of his campaign, in fact, was the need for bipartisanism to counter the trend towards politics becoming too “ideological”. Those who now criticize Obama for being yet another spineless Democrat were not paying adequate attention to the statements he made during the campaign. Obama made no secret two years ago of his deeply-held principle of never sticking to any principle. He has never claimed to be anything but a “pragmatist”, which is a nicer way of saying “opportunist”. The idea that Obama has broken his promises can only seem valid to those who – against all the evidence – fashioned an image of him as the country’s progressive saviour. Yet how can Obama be blamed for those false expectations? Obama has not budged from his belief that the solutions to the problems plaguing the United States can be found lying in the middle of the political road. This is the belief he wrote about back in 2006, and his policies in office have been based on it.
Obama appeared at the opportune time, when much of the population was desperate to believe that the country could change for the better. Millions were sick to their guts of Bush and the Republicans and it was indeed “time for a change”. This was the basis for the foolish hope that Obama could, almost single-handedly, set things right. People went from the naïve view that Bush was the root of all evil to the equally simplistic idea that Obama could uproot that evil. It is pointless to transform Obama from a saviour into a new scapegoat.
Yet the idea that Obama has betrayed us is based on the initial illusion that he could rescue us from problems that are deeply rooted in capitalism itself. Only when people give up the illusion that capitalism can be fundamentally reformed to somehow create a more humane world will we be on the road to real social change. It is good that so many of Obama’s followers are disillusioned. But they are not half as disillusioned as they need to be.
There is a recognizable political cycle. We have been through it before, over and over again in the United States and in many other countries. It is the cycle of lesser evil. For the sake of argument, let us suppose that Obama was a significantly lesser evil.
For instance , it is argued , isn’t it worthwhile just to reduce ( just for the sake of debate , remember) the probability of an attack on Iran to get him into office does ward off a greater evil. But once in office, Obama come under irresistible pressure from his capitalist masters to break his “populist” promises, to disappoint, disillusion and betray the working people who placed their trust and hope in him. Some supporters sink back into apathy and despair, while others fall prey to the Tea-Party type backlash. These reactions give the Republicans their chance to return to political power. Those who support the lesser evil play an essential role in constantly reproducing the cycle. They share the responsibility for its persistence. Support for the lesser evil also entails support – indirect and delayed, but support nonetheless – for the greater evil.
Some capitalist politicians are totally 100% subservient to the oil, gas, and coal corporations and oblivious to the danger of climate change . In their hands we are doomed. Other capitalist politicians are a little less subservient, show a limited awareness of the situation, and try to do something to mitigate it. Something, although much less than what’s absolutely essential and necessary. Bush declared that the Kyoto Treaty “…didn’t suit our needs…I walked away from Kyoto because it would damage America’s economy”. Obama may take a less confrontational approach, but he still has to bat for US capitalist industry, arguing for the continued use of coal and oil. In his hands we are still doomed.