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Finally, a mainstream media source – albeit a non-American one – has addressed the glaring need for a genuine leftist challenger in the upcoming presidential election. Medhi Hasan in the Guardian:
The tragedy is that Obama needs to be held to account – but from a leftwing, not rightwing, direction. He has embraced and affirmed a centre-right world view utterly at odds with his 2008 presidential campaign, with its promises of “change”, “reform” and a decisive break from the Bush-Cheney era.
Consider his record: he failed to close the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay; approved the use of military tribunals for detainees; “surged” 40,000 troops into Afghanistan; doubled the size of the detention facility at Bagram airbase; doubled the number of drone strikes inside Pakistan; gave CIA torturers immunity from prosecution; continued extraordinary rendition; said he didn’t “begrudge” bankers paying themselves multimillion-dollar bonuses’ ruled out a government-run “public option” on healthcare; froze pay for public sector workers; signed off on tax cuts for billionaires; vetoed a UN resolution condemning illegal Israeli settlement-building; and joined China in sabotaging the climate summit in Copenhagen.
That last paragraph summarizes pretty effectively just how atrocious Obama’s presidency has been thus far, in many respects dwarfing the horrific actions undertaken by the Bush administration. Indeed, if anything the American political spectrum has shifted even further to the right since the election of Obama; in addition to all of the Bush-esque monstrosities cited above, we are now engaged in additional wars in Yemen and Libya, and have exercised an extra-judicial assassination of a political and religious figure, while simultaneously violating the sovereignty of yet another Muslim nation.
But I do take issue with one aspect of Hasan’s otherwise superb analysis: Obama’s actions thus far are in no way at odds with 2008 presidential campaign. Indeed, if one had actually listened to the vacuous platitudes streaming from the charismatic candidate’s mouth, one would have immediately recognized that he stood for absolutely nothing. When pressed, during one of the later Democratic primary debates, whether he would commit to withdrawing troops from Iraq by 2013, the alleged anti-war candidate refused to do so. When the warmongers started beating the drums for an invasion of Iran, the peaceful Obama remarked that “all options were on the table.” When asked about health care reform, the so-called “socialist” suggested nothing more than a massive insurance scheme that would deliver some 45 million new customers into the hands of already unfathomably profitable corporations.
Looking back, one wonders at all where this notion of Obama as a leftist, populist president ever came from. Because surely, he never actually said – or did – anything that should have led us to that conclusion. He was from the very beginning nothing more than a corporate puppet, bent on ensuring that those at the top remained at the top, and continued to accumulate wealth at the record-setting levels they had been doing so since the days of Reaganomics.
In the waning days of the Bush administration, things were undeniably bad. Ordinary Americans were actually beginning to awake from their long and listless slumber, and there were glimmerings of genuine rage among segments of the masses. The corporate elite were rightfully terrified, as an awakened populace is the last thing they want. If the plebes actually realized just how stacked the system is in favor of the elite, there would be rioting in the streets.
Enter Obama. The Bush regime was simply too brazen in its attempts to enrich the rich and conquer the world for American corporate interests. When the effects of their disastrous domestic and foreign policies became apparent even to the most apathetic Americans, it became clear that a smoother, more subtle brand of politician would be necessary. Obama fit the part perfectly. A highly skilled orator with a calm, cool demeanor, the relatively young Obama immediately played into Americans’ desire for a more intelligent and compassionate president.
But while the image was there, the substance was not. Obama is now, and always has been, little more than a corporate stooge, the leader of the lone Corporate Party in our one-party state. The challengers that exist to the right of Obama -and it should be mind-boggling that any such candidates exist at all, let alone have a national audience – are irrelevant, as Obam himself is so far to the right as to make George W. Bush seem like a moderate.
We need, desperately, a genuine challenger from the Left, someone who fervently shares and supports the interests of the masses, rather than the relatively tiny but unimaginably powerful corporate elite. If such a challenger fails to materialize, we are guaranteed another four years of our long, painful slide into the depths of the dreary, radical Right.