Having recently concluded my five-part series on identity politics (“Black Face/Identity Politics Is for Suckers”), I admit I’ve been feeling the tiniest bit pleased with myself. With this effort, I have offered the most detailed, measured (I think) accounting yet for my displeasure with the President, my best attempt yet to reach out to self-identified liberals who, near as I can tell, do not understand the substance of many progressives’ criticisms of President Obama.
Will that series end up changing a lot of minds? I suppose not, but I wanted to present my case that the rise of identity politics has proven disastrous for America, especially when it comes to the last two presidents, and also let people know that I can understand voting for President Obama this November. (It’s not something I’m planning on doing, but I can see how someone could do so, especially when I remind myself of our hyper-partisan atmosphere and the dearth of policy-based discussion regarding this presidency.) For many such voters — liberal, somewhat reluctant/unenthusiastic Obama voters — I know they’ll be casting their votes against Republicans this fall, as much as anything else… and I can understand that, too.
That said, I have one little addendum to add, one more rhetorical flourish which I think might further help people see where I’m coming from — and here it is, my general point, nicely illustrated in a political cartoon NOT of my making (from the brilliant series “American Extremists”).
Well, for eight years I watched in horror as George W. Bush and his wrecking crew (decidedly not “politicians I’d always known were objectively good”) did things I’d “always considered objectively bad”: torture, mass murder, massive spying on citizens, deliberately targeting and killing troublesome journalists, and more. When liberals protested Bush’s appalling crimes, the right was quick to accuse us of “HATING” their president on personal grounds (a charge I thought cheap).
Did I like Bush’s faux-Christian, faux-folksy brand of demagoguery and his Texas twang? Not particularly (in large part because I recognized it as a cynical sham). Regardless, this twangy, faux-Texan would have received ZERO criticism from this quarter had he not turned out to be a pawn of DANGEROUS RADICALS aggressively advancing an agenda of world domination (literally, that’s how nutty these jokers are – begin at the 8min.,13sec. mark of the linked video).
What I’m saying is I knew precisely what I was opposing when I spent eight years trying to rally my fellow Americans against George W. Bush and his neoconservative cabal: an expensive, immoral, homicidal/suicidal/counterproductive, GREEDY establishment that oppresses liberty everywhere in the world (Orwellian-style, in the name of “freedom”) — and has NO long-term plan for… anything, really, except preserving the luxuries and prerogatives of a few thousand extraordinarily privileged individuals.
(Why, Mr. President, when their whole stinking agenda was going down in flames, did you take such extreme measures to rescue it?)
* * *
When President Obama decided to expand Bush’s global terror war (after unexpectedly cementing all of its legal grounds, previously considered outlandish and un-American), the nation of Yemen became one of the principle new fronts in the neocons’ global battleground. How’s that working out? Well, aside from the hundreds of people recently killed in less than two weeks (the result of an escalating clash between rebels and the Aden-based dictatorship), the number of “hardcore” al Qaeda extremists in Yemen has well more than doubled over the last year or so, with several thousand more Yemenis hating America today than hated us before Mr. Obama began bombing wedding parties and funeral gatherings in their country (his first drone strike in Yemen killed 14 women and 21 children, setting the tone for the violence to come). That’s the way the neocons’ policies work in practice: they’re terrorist factories; blowback creators; busy little, ever-forward-looking “Dr. Frankensteins,” far too engaged in birthing innumerable new “monsters” to acknowledge their roles in creating the last batch.
You see, I don’t object to the establishment’s agenda “just” because it’s immoral (though it is). I object because, after many years of close observation, it is my firm conclusion that basically all its outcomes are destructive, producing the exact opposite effect of the flacks’ claims: increasing the frequency of terrorism, violence, and death; and decreasing both personal liberty and economic security (in addition to the available amount of potable water, tillable soil, fishable waters, and nourishing food — you know, the little things).
Reelect Obama, my friends. That’s fine with me, especially now that it looks like 2012 will be yet another establishment-dominated election, with no insurgent third party rising — following a 2011 that featured no meaningful primary in either main party. But whatever the outcome in November, we absolutely MUST continue working to replace this terrible system with something humane and rational; there’s simply too much at stake. That is the point I keep coming back to (and I have a few thoughts on just how we should go about that task, so stick around…).