Thursday, February 21, 2008

¿Si o no se puede?

Like prostitutes, the politicians most people like need to have just the right amount of experience: a complete rookie is no good, but neither is a grizzled veteran. This is unfair to prostitutes. As long as they have scrupulously used protection throughout their careers, so what if they have been in the business for a long time? But for the politician, it is different. There is no prophylactic effective enough to keep uncorrupted for any appreciable period of time a politician who has been in the business a long time, developed a large clientèle and moved up the party ladder. In fact, the only effective prophylactic in politics is abstinence.

Nietzsche wrote an aphorism to warn prospective politicians about the modern Unitedstatesian political system: "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you." What Nietzsche was trying to say was that the United States has been ruled for so long by such evil people - slaveowners, genocidal conquerors, robber barons, monopolists, industrialists, war profiteers, etc. - that you could call them monsters. And if you would want to fight these monsters in the arena of politics, you may have to become a monster yourself to stand a chance of winning. For instance, if you are Obama and want a chance to be elected, you will have to show that your views are inoffensive to the kind of monsters who have been ruling the country since its inception. Anyone who would take on problems like the military-industrial complex or the structural inequalities and injustices inherent in capitalism simply has no chance against the monsters of the political abyss. He or she would get eaten alive.

So is there hope in Obama? Listen to Bill Hicks (just change Clinton to Obama, and "Love Connection" with "American Idol" or something): (and George Carlin on the American Dream is appropriate as well)

Then again, while there is little hope in Obama himself, there is hope in the people who may elect him. People forget that the New Deal was not singlehandedly invented and implemented by FDR. Every advance for working people during FDR's presidency had to be pushed for by the organized left; it did not matter that public opinion was firmly behind him, a disorganized public is easily routed. Without the organized left, FDR would have been unable to accomplish anything in the face of the resistance put up by well-organized and fat-pocketed business interests. Take the example of the National Recovery Act, FDR's first major piece of legislation in office. From A People's History of the United States: "From the first, the NRA was dominated by big business and served their interests. As Bernard Bellush says (The Failure of the N.R.A) it's Title I 'turned much of the nation's power over to highly organized, well-financed trade associations and industrial combines. The unorganized public, otherwise known as the consumer, along with the members of the fledgling trade-union movement, had virtually nothing to say about the initial organization of the National Recovery Administration, or the formulation of basic policy.' [] Where organized labor was strong, Roosevelt moved to make some concessions to working people. But: 'Where organized labor was weak, Roosevelt was unprepared to withstand the pressures of industrial spokesmen to control the . . . NRA codes.'" I believe it was FDR who once told a left-wing supporter, "you must force me to do what you want me to do." No president, no matter how charismatic, can single-handedly defeat business and financial interests that are organized and united around a common objective. Unless, that is, popular interests unite and organize as well.

The movement now forming around Obama, if it gets organized and demonstrates staying power, may be the source of real hope. It could provide the organized counterweight to big business's legions of lobbyists, think tanks and the mass media. Time will tell. And although Obama's airy rhetoric and centrist positions make one leery, now is probably not the time to rail against him from the left, thereby making oneself more leftist than the Communist Party USA.

After all, he has got to be better than McCain:

Honorable mention: John McCain No, You Can't

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