Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Obamamania: A short list of sobering truisims

I say truisims because I think these propositions are obvious, unassailable, more or less on a par with "the sky is blue." Feel free to disagree.

1. There will be change. Change is not a policy or a plan or even an issue. It is an inevitable fact of life. Americans will get political change whether they want it or not; it's guaranteed by the 22nd Amendment.

2. Any one of the three candidates will be an improvement. The Bush legacy is a disaster domestically (health care, environment, Katrina) and internationally (Israel-Palestine, Colombia, Iraq, Afghanistan. Even the "successes" in Ukraine, Georgia, Libya and North Korea don't look so good.) The economy is in recession, the dollar is bust, globalization is stalled at the WTO, the IMF is becoming less relevant and I haven't said anything about climate change or development in the Arctic. All three candidates put together won't be able to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

3. That said, it could have been worse. Pseudo pundits gazing at the bottom of their glasses will assure the opposite, but that's just a prelude to falling off the barstool. There is no war in Iran, no renewed Cold War with Russia or China (despite repeated provocations); no armoured personnel carriers in Detroit or LA or St Louis; no invasion of Canada; no cancelled elections; no assassinations inside the US. It could have been a lot worse. Stay tuned.

4. The neocons will be back. The geni is out of the bottle. As Paul Simon says, "Everybody feels the wind blow." The coalition of neoliberal capitalism, belligerent anti-social Christianity, and paramilitarism in various national guises will be a feature of American political life for the foreseeable future. Most of the current neocons are recycled from Watergate, Iran-contra and the like. And they have been successful at propagating their philosophy. Nothing about democracy or human rights can prevent it. You can call them stupid, but they have made the first real contribution to the theory and practise of torture since the Middle Ages. That has to count for something. Certainly , nothing about electing Obama (or Clinton or McCain) will prevent their return.

5. It's an election, not the Second Coming. Really, it's just nominations for the Democrat's candidate. Anyone who promises to put the toothpaste back in the tube is a charlatan. People seriously concerned about democracy will leave the Great Man Theory of History to those who believe in it and work instead for a like-minded, possibly green, candidate for the House of Representatives. If you want to stop the concentration of power in the executive, give up your seat on the bandwagon to someone who has already given up.

Finally, a question. Does anyone have a theory about why what remains of the Canadian left has such a morbid interest in this race for the Democratic nomination? I understand the trade imbalance, the military dependency. I understand the interest when campaign talk turns to re-negotiating NAFTA. But I don't understand Canadians' need to treat an American candidate to become a candidate as if he were a rock star. Will we have screaming and fainting next?



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1 comments:

Muna Hamzeh said...

Jim:
Got your message but my reply to you bounced because you didn't include your proper email. Eager to talk to you. What a surprise after all these years. Please send me your email.
Muna

muna.hamzeh@gmail.com