|Extreme theocratic oligarchy|
Don’t tell the mass media, but the presidential race for 2012 is turning out to be a terrible bore. While we don’t yet know exactly who the Republicans will run, the basic outlines of our “choices” are already perfectly clear. Hold your nose.
On the Democratic ballot we’ll have Barack Obama, once beguiling orator, who has again and again revealed himself to be the faithful representative of moneyed interests and spokesman for neoliberal (aka, moderate conservative) views of economics and policy. Recently, a series of thoughtful, hard-hitting, revealing essays in the press and online have unmasked the smiling, hollow suit who convinced 2008 voters that he would be a progressive, “a transitional figure,” but who has shown very little of that. At every opportunity he’s sided with Wall Street, the military-industrial complex, the medical insurance “industry,” and large, global corporations to continue what amounts to the looting and dismantling of the U.S. economy. And there he is on TV again smiling and waving, praising the latest despicable “compromise.” Sorry -- I’m not buying it.
On the Republican ballot we will have one or another candidate from a group that Thomas Frank calls “the wrecking crew.” These are folks, radical free market “reformers,” who want to repeal the fundamental social contract – concern for one’s fellow citizens -- that has held America together for several generations and to dismantle all forms of public support in education, health care, social security, job creation, environmental protection, and other crucial services. Even more extreme than the Democrats, they believe that “business,” e.g., corporate power, is the only legitimate source for policy making. What the Republicans add to the presidential campaign will be some nasty, nativist (covertly racist) cultural themes along with a strongly militaristic, rightward tilting, evangelical theocracy, mistakenly called “Christian.” (The gentle, loving soul from Nazareth weeps from on high.)
Some choice, eh? That's why I’ve decided not to offer the course, American Politics and Elections, I usually teach during election years. The 2012 options presented the voters, especially young people, contain very little on the upside. While our national politics now produces “change” of a purely negative kind, for the time being it’s run dry on any “hope” of improvement. When the alternatives ranging from lame, to stupid, to horrifying, what’s to get excited about? Why dignify this empty charade? Other varieties of education and political action are urgently needed to resist rapidly spreading economic destruction and to explore the possibility of “rebuilding the American Dream.” Let's get busy with that work!
Yes, alas, I will vote (but not campaign) for Obama for three reasons: (1) the need to recognize the “Sophie’s choice” of the lesser of evils when that’s all we’ve got, while fighting for genuine alternatives in years to come; (2) the possibility that a blue dog’s choices for the Supreme Court might be better than Republican legal plutocrats who dominate that flagrantly corrupt body; (3) the recognition that our system negates third parties at the presidential level.