Monday, April 11, 2011

Pondering Barack (A Work in Progress)

Since watching Cornel West in this video last January - at Martin Luther King's Birthday - I've been pondering President Barack Obama.



I'm pretty sure that I made the mistake of thinking, as Dr West says so many of us did, that Barack Obama was THE fulfilment of MLK's dream as opposed to A fulfillment of that dream, although that certainly wasn't my perception from the moment Barack appeared on my radar.

During the primary season, I believed that he was a politician like any other, beholden to a system that is currently driven by rich guys for their own benefit. Maybe Rich Folks have been oppressing poor folks for 10,000 years, ever since our tribes started farming, and the sociopolitical, economic structure in America is simply another manifestation of that bullshit - I'm not worried about that right now. I'm looking at Barack Obama in the world as we know it today. And in that world, you can't get to be President without sucking up to Rich Guys. You can't hardly get to be dog catcher without sucking up to Rich Guys because campaigns depend on advertising, and advertising costs money.

Looking at Contemporary American Culture, we could easily get bogged down in a discussion of people's lamentable gullibility vis a vis advertising and propaganda which is particularly lamentable given that the mainstream media has deteriorated into propaganda for the corporate state. And we could despair over an educational system committed to undermining critical thinking capabilities among the general populace so that We The People don't make connections between the Koch Brothers, the John Birch Society and the Tea Party, for example.  We could explore the sources of a pervasive sense of isolation, alienation and apathy which leads the vast majority of Americans to ignore current events all together and leads to a dismally small number of people who actually vote.  Lots and lots of variables swirl around in the equation that is Contemporary American Culture. But here, we're only looking at Barack Obama.

Since I'm doing the looking, we're looking from the perspective of a privileged white woman in the grandma zone who has been steeped in what we'll call Progressive philosophy, for lack of a better term.  Some would call us "Too Liberal For Obama," or the Hard Left.  Whatever.  The issue at hand is the vast disappointment so many of us feel when we compare President Barack Obama with Candidate Barack Obama.  I'm thinking that a lot of that disappointment stems from confusing Barack Obama with Martin Luther King, Jr because, you know, not many black men have made speeches to enormous crowds on the mall in Washington DC.

Looking closely at the evolution of my perception of Barack Obama, I think the trouble all started about the time that airplane landed in the Hudson River a few days before Barack Obama landed himself under the statue of Abraham Lincoln.

13 comments:

Vancouver Voyeur said...

I was a Clinton supporter until the end. I only voted for Obama because Hillary was out of the running. He came out of nowhere for me, so I was cautious.

Kulkuri said...

Here's an interesting take by Horsey at SeattlePI about our first Hawaiian President.

It's the best explaination I've seen yet.

Mr. Charleston said...

Not much to ponder here Trish. We elected a friggin Republican in slave's clothing.

Had Hillary been elected (my choice) we would have universal health care. The Clinton's know how to manage the big money interests, Obama doesn't have a clue.

Stacy Lynn said...

I agree with some of what Mr. Charleston said. Never mind political parties...Obama was woefully unprepared/unqualified for the job. You have to have something to back up those pretty speeches...and he didn't.

Susan Tiner said...

Intellectuals don't always make the best leaders. I still love Obama but wish he were a little bit more shrewd, like FDR.

mac said...

I'm not so sure Obama is allowed to stray too far from the course. The political machinery that allowed his ascent into power will not allow derivation.

If a true maverick were to come along, he (she) would be shot down before lift-off.

okjimm said...

Re: Hilary.
just to add a bit of a caveat.

Had she been elected, especially in the political climate that existed in the election of 2008, she would have faced the same opposition, in many regards, as Obama did... she, because she is a woman... he because he was black. Bandy the notion all you will.... but the election of Barack Obama unleashed all the latent racism in our country, just as an election of Hilary Clinto would have unleashed the latent sexism.

Disagree.... but I do not think the notion can be disregarded.

YELLOWDOG GRANNY said...

I know he's not the man I voted for..

Jaliya said...

We've got a similar apathy, to a less blatant degree thus far, up here in the Great White North, eh? ... and we've got a federal election coming up in less than a month. Likely our super-teflon, invisible prime minister will be ensconced once again ...

It seems that the difference between Candidate Obama and President Obama can be summed up in a phrase: "Words are cheap." I hate to say that, especially as one writer to another ... but I think you'll understand the context ...

I suppose that the Very Rich have gotten over as much of their racial bigotry as their profit imperatives will allow ... thus the "black" man in the White House. (I find it interesting that Obama's often referred to as "black" when his makeup includes "white" heritage and his skin is actually brown...)

mac's words make a lot of sense ...

I still stubbornly think that Obama's doing the best he can amidst an unprecedented swirl of greed. I keep thinking of him and his daughters -- So much of the measure of a man can be seen in how his children approach him ... One of our prime ministers, Pierre Trudeau, adored his children and they him. Trudeau fired *everybody* up in one way or another ... but no observant person could fault his love for his boys. Somehow that one consistency in his character overrode (for me, anyway) his political flaws ... and he was an intellectual and a scholar with *major* cojones!

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Politicians are politicians. Best to keep expectations low.

Flying Junior said...

I was excited about the inauguration on MLK Jr. weekend as well. It's the war thing that's killing me. MLK was an outspoken critic of war, particularly the senseless war going on in Vietnam.

Other than opposing war, I never really gave a damn about any politics.

PENolan said...

You guys had so much to say on this topic that I'm encouraged to finish up this story/essay and explain how I came to the conclusion that Obama is Tiger Woods.

More later . . .

Liberality said...

I got sucked in because GWB and his evil sidekick Cheney were leaving the White House. Part of me thought they had seized power and would never leave. Even though Cheney had to wheel himself out, asshole deluxe buttfucker that he is, still I was SO SO SO happy they were gone. And then I was proud of our country because despite prejudice in our country being what it is, we still had a half black man become president. He's done some good things I know. Yet you are correct that he is under the sway of the rich and powerful. Nice post and sorry I'm late to the party. :)

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