Must-read post from KathyG on how to make Barack Obama–and politicians in general–better:
Over this past election season, on websites and listservs and in conversations, I’ve seen an awful lot of cheap, hacktacular electioneering in favor of one candidate or another. But at the end of the day, I don’t think there was ever all that much of a difference between Hillary and Barack. Or between those two and Edwards, for that manner. Hillary and Barack had voting records and positions on the issues that were closet to identical. They’ve both taken shitloads of money from Wall Street, and it’s pretty clear to me that each of them is captive to corporate special interests. Indeed, I interpret Obama’s recent rightward shift — Furman, Messina, the remarks about NAFTA, the FISA compromise — as saying to the corporate interests, “Never fear — we’ll be playing ball as usual with you folks.”
As president, either Barack or Hillary, or Edwards, would be infinitely better than any Republican, but from a progressive point of view, each of them would also far short in some pretty profound and powerful ways.
But you know what? Ultimately, I don’t think that they as individuals are to blame for that. I don’t think Barack, or Hillary, or Edwards, are bad people. I don’t think that Barack Obama, for example, went into politics so he could sell civil liberties down the river in favor of giveaways for the telecom industry. But the incentive structure in politics these days is such that he decided he had more to gain by supporting the FISA “compromise” than by opposing it.
This is where we, as liberals, progressives, lefties, activists, whatever-you-want-to-call-us, come in. I do not believe that our interests are best served by the kind of cheap electioneering we saw over the primary campaign. What would be far more effective would be an independent movement that makes strategic alliances with various political candidates but is also distinctly separate from them.
Instead of shilling for Barack, or Hillary, or whoever, we should have been pressuring the candidates to work for our votes. We should have been pressing them to take firm, non-negotiable positions in favor of things like no immunity for the telecoms, or immediate withdrawal from Iraq with no residual troops. Instead, we were really cheap dates. And when you act like suckers, don’t be surprised when something like Obama’s support for the FISA compromise comes back and bites you in the ass.
If we want real change in this country, the place to look for it is not in our so-called leaders, but in ourselves. What we need, in short, is a movement. Without such a movement, President Obama is not going to be able to achieve a whole lot more than President Clinton or President Carter did. But with such a movement, we may actually get somewhere. FDR was able to achieve great things because he had the strong support of a powerful labor movement. Similarly, the civil rights movement was the wind at LBJ’s back. But I ask you, what will President Obama have?
Huh. An independent movement pressuring candidates to “work for our votes”. Kinda sounds like the pre-Netroots blogosphere, until Chairman Kos decreed that it was now the sworn duty of DFHs to make sure Democrats (even the dreaded DINOs) get elected, regardless of how progressive they may (or may not) actually be.
You sucker MC, you just ain’t right.