H/T to the Black Informant for finding this bit of information…
As readers may or may not know, I was in my youth, much closer in ideology to being a full on socialist (though with reservations) than a right winger. Though I’ve since wised up, I retain a healthy degree of socialist skepticism of monied interests (as do all true conservatives) and believe that the two party system is much more of a scam than anyone cares to openly admit. The real divide in this country is not between Democrats and Republicans, but between the ones who dominate government through monetary means and those of us, the vast majority, who do not, but who are often the ones paying the bills.
These lines in particular caught my attention as the Black Informant talks about socialist John Pilger:
If you do not hear anything else I say, just follow the money. While we peons are out here in cyberspace arguing and debating over the latest comment made by Rush Limbaugh, the name given to fried chicken joints, who compared Michelle Obama to a monkey, money is constantly exchanging hands in Washington. It (money) is probably one of the only things in Washington that does not discriminate. Party affiliation does not matter, neither does the color of one’s skin.
This is profoundly and deeply true. Barack Obama in particular (and the Democratic Party in general) benefited from hundreds of millions in corporate dollars in the financing of his campaign. The same monies that poured in to support Bush are the same ones that back Obama, and you can be sure that in politics, as in all things, money buys influence.
Much noise has been made about tea-party protests, the slide in Obama’s popularity, the socialist policies of the new administration, but by and large, many things, indeed most things remain the same. People on both ends of the political spectrum are frustrated with Obama’s governance, for what they believe are very different reasons. I believe however that their anger has more in common than they realize. Pilger is very far to the left, but these words easily resonate on the right as well:
My own guess is that a populism is growing once again in America, evoking a powerful force beneath the surface which has a proud history. From such authentic grassroots Americanism came women’s suffrage, the eight-hour day, graduated income tax, public ownership of railways and communications, the breaking of the power of corporate lobbyists, and much more. In other words, real democracy.
The American populists were far from perfect, but they often spoke for ordinary people and they were betrayed by leaders who urged them to compromise and merge with the Democratic Party. That was long ago, but how familiar it sounds.
Now of course Pilger sees this populism being put to the use of long standing socialist/leftist ideas which as a conservative I reject as being both impractical and inimical to liberty. However, he does touch a very clear nerve and describes well what I believe to be a bipartisan, grass roots frustration with being ignored by a ruling class that sees itself not as our servants, but as our rulers.
In this kind of system, the voter is nothing more than a group to be manipulated by this or that politician or party. Evangelical Christians discovered this (belatedly) during the Bush administration as his embrace of evangelical faith did little to advance their concerns about homosexual rights and abortion. Liberal feminists are likewise waking up to the cynical way their concerns about “reproductive rights” (i.e. abortion) are used to keep them voting for Democrats no matter how much they disappoint. Black Americans it seems are the slowest to begin to wake to see that the race politics of the Democratic Party aren’t really serving their interests. Again the Black Informant:
For the Black voter, Obama quickly became an easy sell once Obama won Iowa ( a state made up of mostly Whites). We became willing to ditch all those concerns about the war, the economy, politicians who profited from the same “evil” corporations they blasted on the campaign stump in order to take part in history. Whites loved him–that is all that mattered. We even took it a step further by suggesting that a vote against Obama was a vote against your own race. So despite all the questions a person may have like “Why did Obama and his party continue to court lobbyists even after he repeatedly dissed them publicly”, your loyalty to your race was now on the line. Shut up and vote. Talk about a vote guarantee!
When the economy continued to go south after Obama’s promise that his efforts with his stimulus bill would hold unemployment @8%, criticism has been very light to say the least. In fact, when you do hear criticism, it is directed towards the all-encompassing “government” (even though the listener really know that they are really talking about Obama). When criticisms do make it out of the fold, they are usually confronted with the huge hand of denial that says “It’s way too early to judge Obama.” In the meantime, when a small committee in Oslo decided to JUDGE Obama and give him a Nobel Peace Prize, it was paraded as another “First” that Blacks everywhere should celebrate. Blacks, just like other ethnic minorities, women, members of the GLBT community, the anti-war crowd, the anti/pro-abortion crowd, the disabled, the poor, the uneducated–you name the group–are nothing more than cards in a deck that are played in the game of politics. It’s never about the card itself. Instead, it is all about how the card can be played to achieve a certain goal. Pilger nails it with this quote:
“Real activism has little time for identity politics, which, like exceptionalism, can be fake. These are distractions that confuse and sucker good people.”
The anti-war crowd is only realizing this now.
This is why I always find it interesting to hear how Republicans feel that by engaging in identity politics based on race like Democrats that somehow they will become more liked. Democrats engage in identity politics based on race all the time, yet they cannot point to one city that has improved as a result of their policies under their authority. They had decades of practice and all they can do is blame the other guy.
Right on brother. What he’s saying is very true. Ultimately I believe that the protesters of the tea party movement and the rank and file liberals who were tossed under the bus in the Democratic primary (who mostly dutifully voted for Obama in fear of what McCain / Palin represented) have much in common. They are equally annoyed that their votes, their concerns, their fears, their agenda, their well being don’t matter at all to the powers that be in Washington.
Liberals are hopping mad that universal health care isn’t being passed. Conservatives are mad that years of supposedly conservative governance has led to massive deficits. Both are mad about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, though for different reasons. Obama rode to power on this wave of discontent, but is proving to be more of the same, but worse. God help us all.