As you may know/may have expected, I’ve been watching the presidential campaigns closely. I’ve come to the conclusion that, given where America is today (way the fuck to the right), I can only find tiny differences between what I think should be done and what Obama has said he will do.
Don’t worry; I’m still a member of the Left, officially even (I’m still a member of the Green party and all). But when I look at what I know of the country, it seems really, really far away from where I want it to be. I’ll go so far as to say that America is dangerously right and dangerously authoritarian.
From what I understand, part of the financial meltdown came from rich people coming up against a wall of not being able to earn more money; they maxed the system out. These sub-prime loans and deregulation were a way to allow the rich to draw even more wealth out of the poor. But because the distribution of wealth was about as upwardly polarized as possible, the system has begun to topple over from becoming too top heavy.
As to the Authoritarianism, people are afraid to speak out, to protest, to dissent. “Free speech zones” are defended by the legal system, and the rights of some are consistently held up over the rights of all.
The danger of all this is that it isn’t sustainable. Going this far out of the center is starting to cause real problems, and may be the beginning of the end for America.
If I were to be put in charge of this system, I couldn’t just twist a few nobs and deliver America into a Green-style government. It would be too much too fast, and, at least at first, it would be a quicker dissemination of the country than what the right is doing now. Even Kucinich, as a lefty democrat, would be too much change too quick. I would take a few things that would stabilize the system, such as reforming health care, moderate tax increases to stop the upward flow, and re-integration of more-or-less “equality under the law.” After that, I’d work for reforms to make things better without shaking things up dangerously. It would be a big shift leftward for this country, but none of it would actually be a tactic of the left.
Enter Obama: a pragmatist, a little conservative, but pretty much espousing all the ideas that I just mentioned. Especially compared to Mccain’s asinine recent rhetoric, Obama’s rhetoric is very encouraging. He comes across like he cares about the country, knows how to address it’s problems, and is going to have an eye out for the little guy while he’s at it. Especially since he’s largely dropped the “reach across the aisle” stuff and has gone full on economic populist (This is pretty much because of the housing crisis, but hey look! a silver lining!).
Things like improving education and helping people go to and pay for college will begin to pull America out of its dark age. Universal healthcare, even if watered down, will lead to a healthier, wealthier citizenry. Investing in environmental initiatives and our national infrastructure will make our industrial activities sustainable while creating jobs and setting us up to get about our business without worries. None of those things involve giving the market free reign over our lives, but all of it seems necessary.
Meanwhile, John Mccain has remained an old coot. “He’s a socialist!” “He’s a terrorist!” “He’s a young whippersnapper!” “Bush’s policies are too awesome, just let me behind the wheel this time!” It’s getting silly, and a little desperate.
So lets say that Obama gets elected and accomplishes those three domestic goals of education reform, healthcare reform, and an environmental reboot for our nation. If he does it before his term is up, I’ll be right there calling for more action to empower the little guy and reign in corporate greed. If he sits on his laurels, or if he finds other ways to take democrats right-ward, I may announce Obama is a sellout and there’s no hope for the Democrats in this country.
But we aren’t there yet. Right now, what Obama proposes and what I would do are too close for me to complain, and what Mccain proposes is a recipe for disaster. The difference between me and Mccain is enormous, The difference between Obama and myself, right now, is miniscule. If Cynthia Mckinney were to magically find herself as president on November 5th, I don’t see any responsible way that she could act differently than what Obama has said he would do. Whether you’re a Green, a Democrat, a socialist, or even an anarchist, we are at a point now where all of our interests require the same leftward pull; and this election, Obama is the man to do the pulling.