What Comes After Obama

Crossposted from Stars Hollow Gazette

As one of my favorite (and long absent) Daily Kos commenters said recently:


can't even get people who agree with my points to focus on the long term big picture. None of this short term stuff matters. Its just infortainment. The real big picture is what comes after Obama? 

And, as usual, bruh1 is dead on. That's really the question, isn't it? WTF do we do after this guy gets done splintering the Democratic Party, destroying the middle class, and sending the poor even deeper into poverty?

It's a cinch that time spent figuring out “What's Wrong with Obama” will be time wasted. He's not going to change. Is he truly an elite corporatist neoliberal, a misguided centrist liberal, an actual weakling or fool? Who cares? It's People magazine profiles masquerading as political analysis. His deeds tell me everything I need to know. He spent close to a year carefully constructing a minimally progressive front and allowing desperate progressives to see him as their Savior (from Bush and the Republicans). He then promptly, even before the vote, sold us out on the FISA amendments he promised to filibuster. He then continued selling us out on everything, starting with the Public Option, accomplishing almost nothing actually progressive for two years, while doing his level best to undercut, repudiate or just plain anger every single Democratic core constituency, from unions to trial lawyers to GLBTs to civil libertarians to latinos. The only folks who've gotten something substantive out of their vote for Obama are gay soldiers, and then only because gays en masse threatened to turn off the GayTM. How African Americans can still support this guy out of anything but symbolism is beyond me; he's been the worst president for black people since Reagan.

Now that the 2012 campaign is in full swing, we can dismiss any new talk from him about supporting any of these core constituencies. Anything on that subject will just be the same “elect me, what other choice do you have?” stump bullshit we heard last time — you know, all that blather about ending the wars, closing Quantanamo, restoring the rule of law, and rescuing the society from the criminals currently extracting its wealth and exporting its jobs.

So what's the answer to bruh1's question, about “what comes after”? The first answer, clearly, is “More of the same, for quite some time.”  Even if he manages to fumble the re-election (which I doubt, although there are signs he could), Obama and the DLC power structure he represents will continue to be all-powerful within the national Democratic Party. They will be the strongest force opposing progressive change in this country, outside the Tea Party.

A Tea Party insurgency inside the Democratic Party could make the answer very different. But the Tea Party has millions in support from corporate donors, a weapons-grade PR machine and media echo chamber that funnel supporters to them, and a legion of lawyers and experts who fashion and coordinate legislation at the state and local level. That makes it seem pretty hopeless.

I don't think it is. I was around in 1964, when Barry Goldwater led the Republican Party to a withering defeat that might have crushed that party for all time. I had a right-wing acquaintance, Bob Consoli, who had been an active supporter of the Goldwater campaign. I made fun of the campaign's ineptness and extremism, and of Bob's faith in such a man. All Bob had to say was: “Laugh all you want. This isn't the end.” And it wasn't. In the intervening years, right wing elements within and outside the Republican Party came back from electoral defeat, organizing huge grassroots movements in support of their core issues. In less than a generation, they had us living in Ronny Raygun's Amerika. And we haven't managed to get out of it since.

I don't know what Obama's fortunes will be next year, and I mostly don't care. He has already demonstrated convincingly that his interests and mine are not connected. All I care about, and am hoping for, and will work for, is the same kind of resurgence on the left that we have seen from the right.


  1. he’s set the stage for the next move to the right. Whether under his administration (very unlikely, unless he can find another Osama or two to kill) , or under Rick Perry’s.  

    The reasons that Reaganism flourished, is that the right attacked education and the school system, the school boards, until the textbooks gave rightward slant, many people were shuffled off into charter / religious schools, many others were left with schools so bad that they were essentially jails for teens.  They put ROTC in. They banned books. They got rid of good teachers and teaching, unless it was exactly to the textbooks–which are nationwide all made to Texas State Standards.  

  2. that neoliberalism was adopted by the mainstream Democratic party. Reagan Democrat’s came back to the fold but brought their ‘conservative’ antileft screw or get screwed with them. Clinton and the DLC took over the party and moved it to being just a milder version of the Republicans. The ‘culture war’ always seemed so strange as it was people fighting over their so called values and supporting the same pols with the same agenda.

    My kids both non religious and suburban middle class became corporate loving screw or get screwed types. One went Republican and took to listening to Bill O’Riley and the other became an NPR yuppie style Democrat. Oddly the Bushies liberalized both of them. The winger supported Obama and said ‘It’s time for you liberals to have a chance’. He’s back to singing the tax cut song and my other son is going to write in Bernie Saunders, as is his truly moderate indie wife.

    I find the damage done to the left to the Democratic coalition that formed to fight the Bushies by this administration to be alarming as far as the future goes. As far as I can see we have a one party state, with lunatics on one end ad nasty ass Free Market lawless fundies on the other. I can’t say how this will play out but if the owners of the place and their spokespeople go too far in the austerity direction I think or hope that people will with draw consent as if people have no parliamentary  means to address their grievances and nobody can make a living what’s left?              

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