Revolution #280, September 16, 2012
Romney Is a Wannabe Criminal-in-Chief... But Obama’s a Proven One... So:
Let’s Be for Real... and HONEST About Obama...
People—especially progressive people—will tell you that “the stakes are too important to sit out this election.” And they are half-right: the stakes are important. But the stakes are not what they say. And the way that people who really want change need to participate in this election is to expose the bankruptcy of the whole process.
So let’s be honest about what it means to get behind Obama. And let’s say right from the beginning that Mitt Romney—who presides over a collection of backward, reactionary, racist, woman-hating, gay-bashing fanatics, klukkers, theocrats, and warmongers—would himself do nothing but enforce the interests of empire. Interests which guarantee the continued misery and subjugation of the vast majority of the people on this planet and the continued destruction of the environment. His only argument with Obama—and Obama’s fundamental argument with him—is who can enforce those interests better and more effectively.
Bad as Romney is, Obama is no better. With Romney, you get the outright fascists. With Obama, you get the “reasonable” fascists—they carry out essentially the same fascist policies as a Bush, but with a different and more effectively deceptive packaging. Obama sells himself to those who ultimately make the decisions as to who runs and who wins on the basis that he can better control the oppressed while carrying out those policies.
Remember the argument last time?
“Obama will open up space for progressive movements.”
“Space.” Really? Unless you mean space in jail cells for millions of poor people, mostly Black and Latino, or space in the federal penitentiary system for people from the progressive movements... he has done the opposite.
Or how about this argument:
“Obama wants to do things that are in the interests of the people, but we haven’t pushed him enough.”
Which of these things does Obama want to do, and why in the world would you think that? What shred of evidence, outside of your own wishful thinking, exists anywhere that Obama wants to do anything besides enforce the interests of empire?
“Obama’s heart is in the right place, but ‘they’ won’t let him do anything.”
“They” chose Obama because he was and is one of “them.” He proved himself over many years, and they tested him out and felt that he would be the most effective one of “them” to put in office and carry out their interests—which was to codify some of the repressive measures Bush put in place, rebuild U.S. imperialist alliances overseas, and project “soft power” (U.S. political and economic domination enforced by blackmail, death squads, and drones) into the oppressed nations, give more focus to U.S. military aggression overseas, and pacify Black people and the so-called progressive movement, among other things.
“But we have to vote for Obama—otherwise the racists will win and they’ll feel emboldened.”
Racists in America always feel “emboldened” because the encouragement and enforcement of racism has always been at the heart of U.S. capitalism and the culture it has spawned since day one. The hard-core racists were emboldened by Obama’s election, and they would have been emboldened if he’d lost. And yes, the Republicans will make great efforts to unleash the ugliest, most vicious sentiments among backward white people that they can. This is actually part of the strategic thinking of the people who really decide who runs and who wins—which, by the way, is not you or me. If you want to fight the racism that will be unleashed as part of the whole plan for what the real rulers want to accomplish with this election, the Democratic Party is the very last place to go because they will do about as much to take this on as Obama has done from his so-called “bully pulpit”—which is absolutely n-o-t-h-i-n-g. The imprisonment of a generation, the wanton murder of African-American and Latino youth by police, the never-ending police harassment of young people of color... all this goes on without even a peep from Obama, let alone a concrete action.
But it’s worse—because Obama’s people in the White House keep telling Black people to shut up and not “rock the boat” and “make it harder” for him. And lackeys and worse, from Al Sharpton to Steve Harvey, attack and try to silence anybody who dares raise a voice against the many ways that oppression comes down on Black people—as well as other oppressed people—and this is especially true for African-American people who raise a voice against the way things are.
“Obama will appoint pro-choice Supreme Court justices—the only thing that stands in the way of a complete banning of women’s right to abortion.”
How’s that working? The deadly logic of demobilizing the pro-choice movement behind the Democrats and adapting to (instead of taking head on) the morality and “logic” of Christian fascists—who would enslave women as forced child-bearers—has led to a situation where “pro-life” terror combined with draconian laws have left abortion hanging by a thread—and now even birth control is under siege.
“But if we don’t elect Obama, we’ll get Romney and the Republicans.”
Mitt Romney has, like Obama, proven himself willing to do anything, no matter how ugly and outrageous, in the service of U.S. imperialism. It is very possible that those who decide things may end up feeling that Romney would be the most effective way to sell their program—that is, to mobilize social forces to accept and rally behind the ugly shit this system does and the even uglier shit it has in store for the people, here and around the world, in the next period. But the actual program that is put forward and then enforced will differ very little. Ask yourself this: exactly what has Obama done that McCain would not have? Unleash drone attacks on people in a growing number of countries? Refuse to prosecute those who ordered and carried out torture under Bush? Claim official power for the president to make “kill lists” and carry them out without any possibility of a day in court for those on the list? Ramp up deadly sanctions and war threats against Iran? But if Romney and all he represents is reprehensible and intolerable, then how do you justify falling in line behind Obama when there is no substantial difference between them on any issue that really matters to the people of the world?
“Well, yes, you’re right about the war crimes and the violations of the rule of law, but this is the only ‘game’ we have, and if we are going to be ‘relevant’ we have to play it.”
NO! Playing this game over and over, every four years, is part of how the oppressed stay oppressed. This is the logic of the Judenrat—those committees of Jews set up by the Nazis to regulate the Jewish ghettos of Poland while the Nazis prepared to exterminate them in the gas chambers. It means participating in a ritual through which all the horrors of everyday life under this system, all the institutions that warp, mangle, and destroy millions of people every day, are legitimized. In the particular case of this election, “playing this game” is part of how the severe and legally unprecedented repressive measures codified by Obama will be legitimized and consecrated; and these are measures which make it a great deal harder for people to mount and carry through resistance against those horrors. Most of all, “playing this game” means lowering people’s sights—putting blinders on them—away from the possibility of a whole different “game”—a different, revolutionary society, one for which a constitution actually exists and for which there is a strategy to get there.
“But what about health care?”
This argument is almost as absurd as it is immoral. Absurd because Obama’s plan is nothing but the same plan that Mitt Romney came up with when he was governor of Massachusetts, both of which were authored by a right-wing think tank, the Heritage Foundation. But it is also an ugly and immoral argument—for if you go with this, then you are saying that it is okay to rain down hell on people all over the planet, to lock up millions in inner cities, to destroy the environment, to mislead and pacify those most in need of change... so that people in this country can (supposedly) get better health care.
Here’s the reality: We have nothing more to do with the actual decisions of the ruling class than the fans, or even the wrestlers, in a pro wrestling match.
Confronting that truth and acting on it is the opposite of apathy! You want to fight the racism that will be unleashed against Obama... that will spill over against and affect everyone Black and brown? You want to really resist the war on women—which is not a “Republican” war on women but a U.S. war on women in which the Democrats are complicit? You want to see real changes in the world? There is a place for that, and for you—but it is not in the deadly clutches of the Obama for President trap. Real change will only happen through determined struggle against the powers-that-be. And as those struggles become part of a movement for revolution, that’s when we are actually moving to really change things.
That movement for revolution is here, now, ready for YOU!
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