Archive for November, 2010

End of the Age of Obama

November 4, 2010

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

“No one should have doubted that the forces of white supremacy would regroup after the 2008 anomaly.”

Let us pray (figuratively or literally) for gridlock, because all else is disaster. The best outcome that could result from Tuesday’s Democratic debacle is that the Republicans overreach and, in their white nationalist triumphalism, make it impossible for President Obama and congressional Democrats to reach an accommodation with rampaging reaction and racism.

The phony racial narrative of 2008 has been undone with the abrupt termination of the Age of Obama. After two short years, the illusion of a post-racial society has gone the way of all mirages – poof! – and we are forced to behold the United
States as it actually exists.

Barack Obama’s totally predictable failure to lead the nation on a transformative path all but guaranteed that the United States would revert to default mode: rule by a plutocracy backed by a white electoral base intent on cutting off their own noses to spite Black and brown faces. The white nationalist backlash to the actual reality of a Black-led government – exemplified by but much larger than the Tea Party – was a reversion to type.

Only 43 percent of whites voted for Obama in 2008, despite general recoil at what the Republicans had wrought under George Bush. In large swaths of the Deep South, the white vote for Obama registered in the single digits and low teens. No one should have doubted that the forces of white supremacy would regroup after the 2008 anomaly, or that the Republicans, the White Man’s Party, would employ the racist tools and strategies that have kept them in the White House for 20 of the last 30 years.

“After two short years, the illusion of a post-racial society has gone the way of all mirages.”

There was every reason to expect that many whites would reflexively scapegoat Blacks and browns in the wake of the economic meltdown of 2008 unless there were some countervailing rallying call for mobilization around a larger, socially cohesive national mission: a massive jobs and public works program. President Obama, the corporate Democrat, chose instead to transfer trillions in public wealth to Wall Street, the salient act of his tenure that overwhelmed – and, in much of the public’s perception, was conflated with – his wholly inadequate stimulus effort. The long and revelatory health care grind showed Obama’s eagerness to deal in the dark with the hated insurance and drug companies, to concoct a plan that essentially requires everyone to pay for private insurance. Even in friendly quarters, the glow was gone from his presidency, while the billionaire Koch brothers and Rupert Murdock fanned the flames of race hatred through their Tea Party “movement.” Progressives, of course, had no movement, having opted to become Obama’s groveling left flank, instead.

The corporate media wonder what will become of any future Obama initiatives with the House under firm Republican control and the Senate only nominally in Democratic hands. But, from a progressive standpoint, any new Obama initiatives should be feared like the plague. Even with Democrats in charge of both chambers of Congress, Obama persisted in attempting to forge a grand coalition with Republicans, which they steadfastly rebuffed. If he continues true to form in the next, much more troglodyte Congress – and there is no reason to think Obama won’t try – we will witness a repeat of the Clinton years, when a Democratic president oversaw passage of NAFTA, welfare “reform,” vast expansion of the prison Gulag, and deregulation of Wall Street.

“From a progressive standpoint, any new Obama initiatives should be dreaded like the plague.”

Obama had his own plans to go down in history as the president that “reined in” so-called entitlements: Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare. On his own initiative, he caused the creation of a deficit cutting commission whose recommendations are due, next month. The president planned for commission members to threaten entitlements, whereupon he would position himself as the Great Compromiser and Conciliator, further weakening the safety net while pretending to salvage portions of it. But that was before Tuesday’s Republican tidal wave. In the new relationship of forces, an Obama attempt at triangulation on entitlements would invite utter catastrophe. We can only hope that the Republicans are so consumed with destroy-Obama fervor that they reject his entreaties to bipartisan collaboration. The people’s interests would best be served with the GOP charging ahead with their own Neanderthal agenda, forcing Obama to respond with vetoes, if necessary. The people have no champion in the White House or the Congress. The best we can hope for is that the two evils cancel each other out. Let there be gridlock.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at