Political Review – Where Obama Will Go Wrong Again.
Preface: This is my 50th review posted on www.GotFolk.com and I want it to be something special. To date, my writings have included CD reviews, house concert reviews, extended artist interviews, and even venue reviews. Based upon this body of work, I am now able to get press passes to write about shows at the Broward Center For The Performing Arts, the Parker Playhouse, the Aventura Arts and Cultural Center, and a variety of other showplaces. As there are so many interesting things other than traditional folk and acoustic music happenings in southeast Florida, Brian, GotFolk’s editor-in-chief, agreed to create a new category in which to post beyond-folk reviews, and it’s called “Other Areas of Interest.” So, I’m going out on a limb here to inaugurate this new web offering with something truly different: a political review. But read quickly, because Brian and Ellen are away at Kerrville now, out of reach of such modern day conveniences as the telegraph and stage coach. However, when they return, this review may be mollified, and this mouse-that-plays while Ma and Pa GotFolk are away may be in for the internet spanking of a life time. In the mean time, here goes.
Now don’t get me wrong, I voted for Barack Obama in 2008, and barring any great revelation between now and then, I’ll vote for him in 2012. After all, there are three things I never thought I’d see in my lifetime – someone on the moon, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and an African-American President – for these are truly what dreams are made of. But even though he is an intelligent, caring, and well spoken individual, one can hardly say that the first Obama administration has been a windfall of social justice and advancements. To the contrary, it has been characterized by a never-ending series of one-steps forward, two-steps backward movements in almost every area imaginable including the economy, our military, healthcare, and individual welfare. So how did the candidate of “Yes we can!” turn into the president of “Maybe we can’t.” Let me explain.
First off, you have to know what differentiates the democratic and republican parties. The republicans are far more powerful than the democrats because in every measure of the word they are an honest-to-goodness, single party organized around one unifying philosophy: greed. The force of their power comes from this singular mind-set which binds them together in goose-step fashion. The important thing here is not so much that greed itself is the underlying factor, but that real strength and unity arise any time you get millions of people thinking in monotone. For example, had the republicans rallied around cross-dressing and continued to believe, talk and act in their Borg-like fashion, their power would still remain. In some ways, one wishes they had chosen cross-dressing instead of greed, as then their debates and conventions would actually be worth watching. But they bypassed alternative couture and settled on something just as seductive and addictive: the avaristic, self-serving nature of human beings.
The democrats in comparison are not a single party. They are in fact a conglomeration of hundreds, or perhaps thousands of small, medium and large special interest groups. That’s why in an election year when there’s no viable throw-away-your-vote, protest candidate like Ralph Nader (yes, he was there in 2008, but not viable), I vote democratic as I’m a card carrying member of their gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender, animal-rights, veggie-evangelistic, freedom-of-speech, clothing-optional guilds. And that’s why the democrats are always so politically weak compared to the republicans. It’s not that transgender, vegetarian cows shouldn’t have the right to talk and dress as they like, but that their individual needs and wishes are in constant competition to be heard amongst all the other mooing within the democratic party. Whereas republicans can sit back and cast their votes solely based upon how many decibels the cash register rings, democrats have to wade through mountains and oceans of nit-picky needs, desires and identities to figure anything out. And this is at the heart of the democrat’s Achilles heel.
Whenever an important issue arises in congress, our nation, or around the world, a decision must be made. Now all a republican must do to make up their mind is compare how that issue affects the current versus forecasted balance in their portfolio. If the forecasted balance is better, vote yes! If the forecasted balance is worse, vote no! It’s that simple, it’s that quick, and then they’re back to the golf course. A democrat, on the other hand, must send out surveys, plant grass-root phone banks, consider consensus, and otherwise query each and every nook and cranny of their fragmented party before a decision can even be formulated for consideration, let alone a vote. In the mean time, the just-add-water, instant-soup mind-set of the republicans allows them to launch wedge issues, institute sound-bite counter tactics, and otherwise employ a frame-and-dominate media campaign to ensure they either pulverize or at least compromise any possible democratic victory. And that’s why Barack, outside of a few shining moments, has for the most part been mediocre at best.
So how did this happen? How did our first of hopefully many African-American Presidents end up so far off-broadway? To understand that we must rewind to 2007 and Hillary. Yes, I said Hillary. Now, I love Hillary, and given Ralph was bailing as fast as he could to the bottom of the polls, I would have voted for her just as happily as Barack. In fact, my dream ballot would have been Hillary and Barack, or Barack and Hillary. Let’s face it. These were two historical candidates – a black man and a white woman – either of which alone was a potent, presidential powerhouse. But together they would have been an indomitable sixteen-year force in American politics. If those two had simply gone in a room, flipped a coin and then announced which one was going to run as president with the other as vice-president, they could have switched seats each season and rerun three more times. In fact, had they been really smart, they would have also announced that when (not if) they won in 2008, they would then ask Senator John McCain, their republican presidential-hopeful counterpart that year, to be Secretary of Defense. After all, old Johnny may not be much on social issues, but he sure knows how to throw one hell of a war. This simple strategy of unity would have guaranteed them all the democratic votes, all the women votes, all the African-American votes, most of the independent votes, and even a significant portion of the republican hawk votes. In one press conference, the democrats could have deflated the elephant and instantaneously won the 2008 election overnight. But what difference would that have made?
You see, it all gets back to singular mind-set versus fractionated interests. Even though Barack won in 2008, he didn’t have a large enough majority in both the senate and congress to get his initiatives passed. Every time something crucial like healthcare would come to either chamber’s floor, the republicans would simply wedge and separate enough segments from the democratic pie to create an instant anti-majority that would water down or defeat whatever threatened their off-shore bank accounts. In fact, on really important issues, the democrats almost never win by a simple majority because their membership is facing too many ways simultaneously for them to all drive in one direction. That’s why they need a super-majority (super, not simple) in both houses whenever they hope to accomplish significant and long-lasting change in our society. Only that way can the democrats retain enough internal support and momentum to prevail, even after the elephant sits upon and squishes some life out of the donkey’s power base. But how would an early 2007 fete-de-complete by Barack and Hillary have changed anything?
Had the Superman and Superwoman joined forces, rather than nearly destroy themselves and their party as they chose to do, then once all the coin flipping and announcements were through, Barack and Hillary could have spent the rest of 2007 and all of 2008 campaigning for the democratic senators and representatives who so desperately needed their support, instead of their divisiveness during the election cycle. That way, on inauguration day 2009, the first bi-sexual administration in U.S. history could have taken office with a super-majority in both houses behind them. And with that super-majority, they could have passed almost any historical bills, amendments or dreams that anyone with a social conscience could have wished for. But alas, they fought, they separated, and they divided themselves, their party, and the country. The end result is that we have a historical president with no super-majority for him to stand upon. And that is why Barack Obama has failed to do what he promised us we can.
In politics, 99.99% of all politicians fall into one of two categories: the marginalized and the compromised. My hero, Ralph Nader, is the epitome of the marginalized states person. Few people know that he was responsible for the passage of more pro-consumer, pro-environment and pro-social-welfare legislation than almost any elected official in Washington. But he is and always has been a no-name in the halls of Capitol Hill because he stuck to his guns rather than give in. Obama, on the other hand, may go down in history as the ultimate compromised candidate. Yes he held unheard of hope and promise, and yes he ran, and yes he got elected. But, no, he did not deliver. And it’s not that he didn’t want to deliver or that he didn’t try to deliver. It’s just that he couldn’t deliver because there wasn’t a super-majority to protect Superman from the republican Kryptonite.
With that all said, yes, I’m voting for Obama in 2012. And I hope you do to. After all, what this world needs is a lot less greed and a lot more thoughtfulness at all levels, from the White House, to the poor house, to the out house and beyond. But don’t expect great changes this year or next. Let’s just keep the dream alive by voting for the one candidate who still holds promise of a better tomorrow, even it that promise must wait for another day.
Robert Ben Mitchell (a.k.a. – Dr. Bob)
Senior Staff Writer – www.GotFolk.com