07 November 2008

No more excuses

lenin puts it succinctly, as usual.

But this myth, that America is a uniquely conservative country, has just been heartily dispatched. The alibi won't stand: the Democrats control all three branches of government, with expanded majorities in the Congress and Senate. They have moved deep into Republican territory, including Indiana, which looks like it will fall to Obama by a narrow margin after having been Republican since the 1968 election.... When Obama 'reaches out' to Republicans and starts blustering about bipartisanship, and when he appoints someone like Robert Gates as his secretary of defense, there will be no excuse. If he fails to carry out even his most limited reforms, he has no scope for blaming the Right. If he doesn't close Guantanamo and restore habeus corpus, he has no one else to blame.

All I'm saying is, to those hundreds of thousands of people marching and dancing in the streets, be prepared to be back on the streets soon. The system is designed to lock you out as quickly and quietly as possible.
Indeed. One of the positive outcomes of this election is that we'll no longer have to hear how many bunnies per capita we would have if Saint Gore hadn't been robbed of his rightful place on the throne by Teh Ebbil Ralph Nader and his privileged white male supporters (well, forget it, we'll never be rid of that). Nor should we have to hear how Obama must play rhetorical homage to the Sensible Middle to win elections. The Democrats won a crushing victory because most of the country has recognized the bankruptcy of conservative ideology.

But Obama has already started to fill out his roster with recycled Clintonites. Rahm Emanuel, a congressman from Illinois and former member of the Clinton White House, has been tapped for Obama's chief of staff. A typical hawkish, neoliberal DLCer, Emanuel was loathed by many online activists for favoring centrist candidates over progressives while he was head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Some of this should be expected. After all, the Clinton era is the only other Democratic presidency since 1980, meaning that Obama will have to choose some Clinton veterans if he wants anyone with experience inside the White House. The question, then, is which of three possible options will Obama take?
  1. Re-assemble the entire Clinton team person-for-person
  2. Balance Clinton veterans either with Republicans and holdovers from the Bush years or
  3. With a mix of newer, more progressive voices.
The voters, by taking Obama's promises of "change" seriously, have declared the first two options unacceptable. But this may be the key conflict of Obama's presidency. Will he be able to manage the swelling social movement that so enthusiastically supported him and celebrated in the streets Wednesday morning, believing that he would bring progressive policy changes to the country, into supporting his pro-business and pro-empire presidency? I have only modest doubts.