Expectations and reality
Editor’s note: Anthony Peyton Porter is taking a week off. Apropos of this issue’s cover story, we’re revisiting his column from Dec. 12, 2008.
So we’ve got a black president. Wow. American Negroes have come a long way, fortunately.
I ignored political news for years, and now Barack Obama’s election has me monitoring the chatter online. Of course, it’s mostly blah-blah—commentary and guesswork. It’s news when anybody in media thinks of something new to say or, more often, thinks of a way to say the same old thing slightly differently. They fill the space-time with whatever they think will get our attention—movement, bright colors.
Obama’s popularity in my kitchen slipped when he started picking the Clinton gang and other conventional suits to work for him. It seems a counterintuitive way to achieve change. Those polled are hopeful that he’ll find somebody who actually thinks differently soon and have adopted a wait-and-see posture.
I don’t think Obama is the messiah, though he and Jesus of Nazareth are similar in that everything we think either of them ever said is chewed on endlessly and savored for meaning and intent and implication, the essence of blah-blah. That’s where the similarity ends. Jesus was a radical. Obama is not.
Obama’s election, among any number of other readings, is an indication of his non-threatening acceptability to the power elite. He also seems like a smart guy and a decent, thoughtful human being. He’s cool, too, and he may even be kind.
Still, Obama and McCain were in the debates because they could be relied on to stick to the glossary and not make any unfortunate suggestions. They would talk about the usual subjects in conventional terms, based on the patriotic premises that more is better and war is necessary. No problem.
They could talk about tweaking something and even talk about redistributing some of the money, but no-drama Obama and the other guy would not be bringing up wild-eyed shadow-government conspiracy shit or “let Wall Street go to hell” or “get out of Iraq by the equinox” or “the drug war is over” or “no government secrecy” or “Israel’s full of it” or any other hint of radical thought. Nothing like that.
Progressivism is too far out to be taken seriously, so we’re stuck at liberalism, for which I’m grateful. He gets points for taking a train to the inauguration, because that’s cool.
I don’t expect Barack Obama to kill the Federal Reserve system or the CIA or to slash military spending or even revoke any corporate charters, but I think we’ve got a shot at universal health care, and maybe sooner or later a Department of Peace, or at least an innovative appointment or two. A constitutional convention would clear up a lot of things, but the thought of rethinking everything from the ground up scares some people, and my guess is that’s the last thing Obama wants to do. That’s my blah-blah.
I’m glad Obama got over like a big dog. In your face. I like that, and yet I can’t quite get with the way some people get all dreamy-eyed and defensive about somebody they’ve never met. Get a grip. He’s still a Chicago politician.