False Hope and November 5th

As expected Barack Obama has won the Presidential election in a landslide.The first African American President in US history has been elected.

And the fact that Obama is (half) African means nothing if it means a continuation of policies that marginalize poor and working class people, continued militarism around the globe, and continued subservience to a certain group of corporations rather than the American people. Obama is a false symbol of hope, because he only got where he is today by kowtowing to the white corporate elite. He is no more a harbinger of change than Condoleeza Rice.

That is an uncomfortable thing for people to acknowledge. But it is the truth. There was another African American candidate in this race, Cynthia McKinney. She addressed the issues more honestly and comprehensively than Barack Obama. But she didn’t make herself a tool of the white establishment and she didn’t have a multi-billion dollar campaign—so she was ignored. Just as every other Black candidate has been until now.

This is not progress for black Americans. As Malcolm X once said, “You don’t stick a knife into a man’s back nine inches, and then pull it out six inches and call it progress.” To pretend that Obama is pulling the knife out of our collective back is foolishness.

The American public, as always, is easily swayed by a slick advertising campaign. We can’t look beneath the surface. The fascination with Obama is entirely skin deep, because if people actually examined his policies and the implications of those policies they would see there is nothing that remotely resembles “change” in his platform.

So where do we go from here?

Rather than getting caught up in the blind adoration of Obama that is sweeping the world…

And rather than sulking because third party candidates received no coverage….

We, the American people, need to get to work.

We need to put pressure on Obama and pressure on Congress. We need to get organized, get aware, and get moving.

As mentioned in my previous post, the Nader/Gonzalez team is spearheading a social movement which aims at pressuring members of Congress to be accountable to we, the people. The tenative title for this group is The November 5 Movement. It seeks to establish congressional watchdogs in every district of the United States.

If we truly expect anything to change in this country, we have to get involved. Change is not going to come from some messianic figure, even if he is the first African American President. Change is not going to come if we go back to sitting on our hands after Nov. 4. Change will only happen when we put our blood, sweat, and tears into making it happen. We have to fight for it—as our forebearers fought for it before us.

Our goal is not change “we can believe in”. Human beings are gullible animals and will believe anything with the right packaging (just look at this election!). Our goal is change that we can actualize, change that is substanial. And it can only begin with each of us.

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~ by Kimchi on November 6, 2008.

4 Responses to “False Hope and November 5th”

  1. To be sure, there is much to which I agree with in this post as we are of similar ideas. However, I must contend with two opinions you have offered.

    To suggest Obama “is no more a harbinger of change than Condoleeza Rice,” is a bit of a stretch of an attempt at establishing such an equivalent. To be sure, the two do not represent radical black politics and both belong to business dominated parties, but Black America would not have the same enthusiasm for Rice as they have displayed for Obama. You must ask yourself why that is true and what equates for that gap which suggests to me that any attempt at equivalence must be tempered with caveats and nuances.

    Similarly, to say that the election of Obama is not progress for Black America is something I can not agree with. I understand every limitation of the Obama candidacy and there’s nothing you can cite for which I have not already taken into consideration. That being said, Obama’s victory could not have been possible without the civil rights movement. The history of racial justice in the United States has a secret…that the radical left played a pivotal role in standing for the dignity of Black America long before the Liberal establishment was pressured into making legislative overtures. Obama is not perfect – not by a long shot – but to a certain degree, the civil rights movement has made a ‘cash out,’ to use Howard Zinn’s words. I will continue my efforts to exact change more in line with MLK’s vision of racial and economic harmony, and wherever it clashes with the Obama administration, there too, progress will be made.

    Change doesn’t always come in one fell swoop. It occurs incrementally. President-elect Obama will take to the White House that was built by African slave labor. That’s a change. The trajectory of history will hopefully have substantial changes for this society when the demographics of this nation flip minority-majority. Obama’s victory hopefully is a ripple of a coming tide that will swing leftward towards a deepening of racial democracy in the decades to come.

  2. Always a pleasure talking with you, Gabriel,

    I agree that an Obama presidency would not be possible without the civil rights movement and the subsequent shift in consciousness in the America. And as you point out, it was the “radical” left which made the first movement toward racial equality and justice. That much I agree with.

    However I can’t help but feel this is a battle that has already been won. I think you bring up a good point when you note that Rice and Obama are not equivalent, however I wonder if this is simply because President is a higher office than Secretary of State, and because Obama’s image and marketing will go down as one of the slickest in US history.

    I agree that change occurs incrementally, but at the same time I can’t help but wonder what difference Obama’s win makes to the 1.1 million black men imprisoned (many of them unjustly) today. As I said, Obama’s win strikes me as the late-arriving echo of a fight already won for Black America—not necessarily as the beginning of a new wave of racial democracy.

    If his administration is business as usual (and I’ve yet to see compelling evidence that it won’t be), then have we really achieved anything? Does the fact that the Imperial figurehead is Black make a difference to those oppressed by the Empire?

    Obama has displayed a remarkable talent for uniting Americans of diverse backgrounds, but if this talent is simply used to rouse the people in support of old, oppressive policies, to inspire serfs to love their servitude, then we must consider this a re-gression rather than a progression.

    The other danger is that people will invest too much of their “hope” into this messiah-like figure, and forget that their own responsibilities as citizens. I will be curious to see if his supporters can keep up their enthusiasm; most seem to think their job is finished.

    But I will acknowledge that it’s too early to tell. While I’m skeptical, I’m also open to the possibility that Obama will surprise me in a very good way.

  3. Obama’s race is a game changer. When i have time I will expand on my thoughts in my own blog. But basically it boils down to this. Centrist interests will define Obama from the onset. Will the African-Americans and young voters who turned out in droves for him react to it? Black America demanded nothing from him except for becoming the first Black President. Now with that taken care of, will his own people hold him accountable to improving the lot of black folk? The lyrics of mainstream celebratory hip hop suggest they expect him to deliver the goods.

    His presidency, more so than any other in recent history, is so full of people’s REAL HOPE irregardless of the substance of his rhetoric. If promises fail, we’ll see a large base who by definition won’t react by swinging right; but hopefully by swinging left.

    It’s the Buddhist in me that see’s hope as an opportunity for disillusionment which is the first prerequisite for…enlightenment.

    One can only hope

  4. In some ways, yes, Obama’s race is a game changer. In other ways, however, it’s irrelevant. I don’t think the civilians who are being killed across the Middle East and South Asia are going to care much if the man authorizing their deaths is Black or White or a Pacific Islander. Obama may be a “combo breaker” when it comes to skin color, but so far his platform and appointments don’t suggest to me that his administration will be a combo-breaker in any sense of the word.

    You do have an interesting point about the reality of people’s hope. The main question, however, is whether or not their interest will be sustained. This is why I provided a link to the November 5 movement, one such attempt at keeping the public engaged past election day.

    Disillusionment can certainly be a stepping stone to awakening, but you are assuming that the public will in fact be disillusioned. Most of them have not even gotten to that stage yet and are quite satisfied within the pleasant illusion of “hope” and “change”.

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