Why are Obama’s supporters not expressing outrage at his actions?

July 22, 2011 | By | 11 Replies More

Glenn Greenwald sums up the problem at the U.K. Guardian:

The same Democratic president who supported the transfer of $700bn to bail out Wall Street banks, who earlier this year signed an extension of Bush’s massive tax cuts for the wealthy, and who has escalated America’s bankruptcy-inducing posture of Endless War, is now trying to reduce the debt by cutting benefits for America’s most vulnerable – at the exact time that economic insecurity and income inequality are at all-time highs.

Where is the “epic shitstorm” from the left which Black predicted? With a few exceptions – the liberal blog FiredogLake has assembled 50,000 Obama supporters vowing to withhold re-election support if he follows through, and a few other groups have begun organising as well – it’s nowhere to be found.

Therein lies one of the most enduring attributes of Obama’s legacy: in many crucial areas, he has done more to subvert and weaken the left’s political agenda than a GOP president could have dreamed of achieving. So potent, so overarching, are tribal loyalties in American politics that partisans will support, or at least tolerate, any and all policies their party’s leader endorses – even if those policies are ones they long claimed to loathe.

And that’s just the beginning of the problem with Obama. Consider the damage he has done on other issues.

Obama has continued Bush/Cheney terrorism policies – once viciously denounced by Democrats – of indefinite detention, renditions, secret prisons by proxy, and sweeping secrecy doctrines.He has gone further than his predecessor by waging an unprecedented war on whistleblowers, seizing the power to assassinate U.S. citizens without due process far from any battlefield, massively escalating drone attacks in multiple nations, and asserting the authority to unilaterally prosecute a war (in Libya) even in defiance of a Congressional vote against authorising the war.

Greenwald’s article contains many links documenting Obama’s abysmal record.

Obama has destroyed the modicum of “hope” that I still had. I am now convinced that there is no solution to our biggest problems by using the system. On the national level, voting is a charade to trick ordinary folks into thinking that they have a voice in their government–they’ve been tricked into thinking that voting is adequate and responsible citizen participation. What we need, more than ever, is for people to turn off their TVs and to stop living in the fantasy world of sports teams and movie stars. We have a country to run, and we have President who does what loud and obnoxious people tell him to do. We need to become loud and obnoxious if we are to get Barack Obama to do the right thing, because he has proven himself to be, at best, a channeler, not a leader. We need to challenge him by calling him out and labeling him for what he is: Not-Leader! I write this as a person who financially supported Obama and voted for him. And I would still support him over McCain/Palin or any modern-day equivalents.

The big question, then is how we get the voters to wake up from their fantasies, to become well-informed and to loudly demand that our elected representatives run the country in a responsible and sustainable way. How do we get citizens to express unrelenting outrage at the corrupting influence of the current system of financing campaigns with huge sums of private (mostly corporate) money? Anything less is nihilism. Perhaps that is what we need to start calling Americans who think that the mere act of reading their crappy local newspapers, watching the most popular versions of TV “news” and voting makes them responsible citizens: Nihilists!

Perhaps I am able to see Obama for what he is because I am not very “tribal.” I agree with Glenn Greenwald that “tribalism” is why progressives are not speaking out against the man they supported for President. It’s time to stop being tribal. That would be the start of a solution.


Category: Corruption, Politics

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (11)

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  1. Tim Hogan says:

    Obama is married to whatever he thinks will get by the Republicans rather than taking charge and leading America. Mr. President, force the votes, hold them accountable, make them pay or get the hell out of the way!

  2. Edgar Montrose says:

    Have you ever been in a situation in which you were unknowningly played for an utter fool? And when you finally found out about it, you were so overwhelmed by feelings of embarrassment, and betrayal, and disappointment that you were completely paralyzed?

    That is how I feel about President Obama.

    I suspect that I am not alone.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Edgar: You nailed it.

      We also need to get past the idea that we condemn actions only if they were done with conscious malicious intent. Obama is a talented and complex man with terrible vulnerabilities. He wants to be liked by everyone in the room and he wants to be SEEN as a person who brings other together. He has elevated these to the level of sacred principles. They prevail even when he is doing massive damage to the country. This behavior needs to be condemned, especially by those of Obama's own "tribe." He is definitely not leading. He sees his job as smoothing things over and kicking the can a couple feet down the road. He is failing to think things through. The damage he is doing is thus described by Hannah Arendt's term, "the banality of evil." http://dangerousintersection.org/2011/06/12/a-cou

  3. Brynn Jacobs says:

    Erich says:

    I write this as a person who financially supported Obama and voted for him. And I would still support him over McCain/Palin or any modern-day equivalents.

    The lesser of two evils is still an evil. The game is rigged. This mindset is exactly what allows this sort of situation to continue. In reality, the two parties are extremely close together, and far further to the right than should be expected given the makeup of the country. Come election time, each party runs candidates who voice meaningless platitudes (hope, change, etc…) and promise whatever the electorate is in the mood to hear. Add a hefty dose of "At least I'm not as bad as the Republicans would be!" (vice-versa for Republican candidates), and the electoral downward spiral continues. Whomever is elected goes straight to work for their corporate masters, and the cycle begins again.

    The fact that some people still vote gives the system a thin veneer of legitimacy, freeing those elected to do whatever they like after the election. This veneer also allows those who are bright enough to know better to pretend we still live in a democracy, when the reality is far closer to plutocracy or oligarchy than most of us would care to admit. The daily march of corruption goes on, stories of insider trading at the highest levels (see <a href="http://finance.yahoo.com/tech-ticker/congress-refuses-to-outlaw-insider-trading-for-lawmakers-478701.html?tickers=^dji,^gspc,^ixic,brk-a,brk-b,gs,xlf" rel="nofollow">here also), corporations literally <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-07-21/koch-exxon-mobil-among-corporations-helping-write-state-laws.html&quot; rel="nofollow">writing legislation, <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-07-17/banking-run-amok-is-less-likely-a-year-after-dodd-frank-view.html&quot; rel="nofollow">too-big-to-fail banks are bigger than ever, <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/07/27/us-iraq-usa-spending-idUSTRE66Q55620100727&quot; rel="nofollow">billions of dollars go missing (along with <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2011/POLITICS/07/12/atf.guns/index.html&quot; rel="nofollow">thousands of firearms), the <a href="http://www.palmbeachpost.com/money/foreclosures/foreclosure-fraud-investigators-forced-out-at-attorney-generals-1603854.html&quot; rel="nofollow">few voices trying to investigate crimes are silenced, ….. *deep breath*.

    You're right, Erich, the American people have been too apathetic for too long. Unfortunately, they look likely to remain that way until the austerity measures that are provoking riots around the world begin to "hit home". Hopefully that will shake them awake, but I don't think they will like what they find when they look around. The <a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/wealth/2011/07/06/why-the-rich-fear-violence-in-the-streets/&quot; rel="nofollow">rich are beginning to fear violence on the streets (aimed at them, see <a href="http://www.centralfloridafuture.com/austerity-measures-could-create-unrest-1.2605387&quot; rel="nofollow">here also), and they aren't wrong when you see <a href="http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/07/20/anger-at-government-highest-in-19-years-poll/&quot; rel="nofollow">polling numbers like these.

  4. Erich Vieth says:

    Brynn: I can't disagree with anything you've written. Despite that, I will continue casting my votes for the lesser of two evils, despite the fact that the lesser evil is an evil. And despite the fact that when we engage in this almost total charade of voting (at least on a national level) it might have the effect of encouraging others to think it legitimate. I will do what I can to keep MORE evil people out of office. In the case of McCain/Palin, we would have more wars and more vicious forms of bigotry. Of that I am fairly confident.

    The big question is what to do regarding the next election cycle. I feel utterly betrayed and demoralized. As you suggest, I'm assuming that the next candidates will disingenuously spout lofty truths in poetic ways (thanks to clever speech writers). I'm certainly not in a mood to listen to any of it or believe any of it.

    I should reiterate that I'm referring especially to national politics. That's where the especially big campaign money corrupts in especially big ways.

  5. Jim Razinha says:

    It's a rare election in which I vote for a candidate rather than against another. Occasionally, the Dems field someone I'll vote for. The Republicans have no one, and a whole lot of people I'll vote against because I am really afraid of what they might do. There are Representatives in my state of residence that I wish "represented" my district so I could lodge my protest vote.

    Palin has really shown her colors since losing. Maybe being V.P. would have been a good thing…she would have been kept quiet, the citizenry would have certainly revolted at another four years of the same (as they are likely to do in 2012) and she would have become a Dan Quayle-like afterthought. I wonder if McCain wakes up cringing at what he wrought on the U.S.?

  6. Mike M. says:

    Brynn, I could not possibly agree with you more. As maddening and disgusting as this cycle of political abuse is, I think your analysis captured the beast precisely. So, what to do?

    Erich and Jim – What about a personal rejection of the Dem-Rep game altogether? For years I've casted my votes towards 3rd party candidates –Nader last time, Libertarian or Ind. previously. I don't see it as a throwaway vote but rather a protest vote (one against the entrenched 2-party con game and mass hypnosis currently bewitching the citizenry). In my mind that's much better than tossing a vote towards the least heinous of the two main party illusionists, and only slightly better than voting for Nobody (not voting at all).

  7. Erich Vieth says:

    Since I'm feeling so cynical about politicians these days, I will share some George Carlin, from page 513 of his huge collected works, 3 X Carlin:

    Where do people think these politicians come from? They don't fall out of the sky; they don't pass through a membrane from a separate reality. They come from American homes, American families, American schools, American churches, and American businesses. And their like to buy American voters. This is what our system produces, folks. This is the best we can do. Let's face it, we have very little to work with. Garbage in, garbage out.

    Ignorant citizens elect ignorant leaders, it's as simple as that. And term limits don't help. All you do is get a brand-new bunch of ignorant leaders.

    So maybe it's not the politicians who suck; maybe it's something else. Like the public. That would be a nice realistic campaign slogan for somebody: "The public sucks. Elect me." Put the blame where it belongs: on the people.

    Because if everything is really the fault of politicians, where are all the bright, honest, intelligent Americans who are ready to step in and replace them? Where are these people hiding? The truth is, we don't have people like that. Everyone's at the mall, scratching his balls and buying sneakers with lights in them. And complaining about politicians.

    For myself, I have solved this political dilemma in a very direct way. On election day, I stay home. Two reasons: first of all, voting is meaningless; this country was bought and paid for a long time ago. That empty shit they shuffle around and repackage every four years doesn't mean a thing.

    Second, I don't vote, because I firmly believe that if you vote, you have no right to complain. I know some people like to twist that around and say, "if you don't vote, you have no right to complain." But where's the logic in that? Think it through: if you vote, and you elect dishonest, incompetent politicians, and they screw things up, then you're responsible for what they've done. You voted them in. You caused the problem. You have no right to complain.

  8. Erika Price says:

    I believe the problem is systemic: that the structure of the Presidency and the federal government makes it nigh impossible to stick to one's ideological guns. The sheer information overload, the constant briefings, the necessity of constantly meeting with politicians and press and diplomats and voters and telling them all entitely disparate things, the demands of travel and fundraising, the goals to be met, the international and domestic security paranoias to manage, the supporters and lobbyists to placate, the constant flow of large and small decisions, decisions, decisions to be made- I believe the sheer bulk of the demands obliterate thoughtful human agency, deplete self-control, and lead even the best Presidents down the primrose path of cool, detached pragmatism.

    I think that politicians, as a result of such a fast-paced, partisan political system are rendered almost incapable of making thoughtful, bold policies. It is much easier under the current system in infight, cut deals, maintain path dependence, and gladhand. All those activities are scheduled into their regular workday. Cultivating sound policy amd fighting for it is not.

  9. Erich Vieth says:

    Mike M.: How about putting "None of the Above" as an alternative for every race. Checking it would mean "I showed up to tell you that none of these people are worthy of my vote." That would probably put a damper on a lot of that silly BS successful candidates urge about "mandates." It wouldn't be much of a mandate if Candidate A won the election with 20% of the vote over B's 15%, while None-of-the-above got 65% of the vote.

  10. Mike M. says:

    Erich–Why do I feel that it would be more productive and beneficial for me to take a walk in the woods, or play catch with my son in the backyard, as opposed to getting in my car and driving to whatever church is hosting the next national election farce? I do like your "None of the Above" idea though…it sends a clear message. If you think about it, Nobody (or None of the Above) has always been the most popular candidate in all political elections in recent American history. The vast percentage of the citizens prefer Nobody.

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