I voted for Barack Obama twice. I won’t say I regret it. The alternative in 2008 and 2012 was much worse. I also think he has been a failure as President.
While even in 2008 I realized that Obama was a lightweight plucked out of obscurity by the neoliberal elites to be their compliant puppet, I also thought he might grow in office. After all, in 1964, The Beatles were an over-hyped boy band. By 1968, they had changed the face of popular music forever. A vote for the Senator from Illinois was a vote against George W. Bush. Cool, smooth, secular, and above all African American, he seemed the opposite of the belligerent, neoconservative frat boy who had run the country into a ditch after 9/11. The Clinton campaign’s attempt to smear him by association with Jeremiah Wright only increased his appeal. It let me believe that underneath the bland neoliberal surface he might have been a secret radical.
Barack Obama has been popular in the African American community similar to the way Pope John Paul II was popular in the Polish American community. He’s one of their own. Obama is also popular among elite, white, Ivy League neoliberals. As a center-right corporate Democrat who has been subjected to ludicrous, conspiratorial attacks from the racist far-right, he lets Wall Street have its cake and eat it too. Criticism of Obama’s militarist foreign policy, draconian crackdown on dissidents and whistle blowers, and failure to investigate the criminal bankers and speculators responsible for the financial crisis of 2008 can be painted as racism, conspiracy theory, and right-wing extremism. Like Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama has been a charismatic, and effective spokesman for the American ruling-class.
Barack Obama is not the traitor the Tea Party says he is, but he’s no Lincoln or Franklin Roosevelt. He’s not a patriot who loves his country. He is an upwardly mobile professional who loves his class. Obama has not governed in the interests of all Americans. He has governed in the interests of other upwardly mobile professionals. If you’re part of the upper-middle-class or above, you’ve done very well over the past 8 years. If you’re not, the financial crisis of 2008, and the “great recession,” still casts a shadow over your life. That has set black against white, women against men, native born Americans against immigrants, and just about everybody against Muslims.
Hillary Clinton is Barack Obama with the mask ripped off, Benedict XVI to his John Paul II, George H.W. Bush to his Ronald Reagan. Obama did not deliberately set out to divide Americans against one another. The Republicans and the Tea Party did that for him. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, like Donald Trump, sees the breakdown of a united American identity as a business opportunity. In her campaign against Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders – a genuine patriot who wants to unite Americans of all races and religions against the 1% – we see the class politics of the Obama administration made explicit, an alliance of upper-middle-class white professionals, black professionals, and working-class blacks – who will be stabbed in the back shortly after she takes the oath of office – against working-class white men. Donald Trump’s crude appeals to xenophobia and racism need little or no comment. Hillary Clinton’s superficially liberal, but profoundly divisive, feminism and political correctness are probably just as dangerous.