FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Obama and the Baby Boomers

by CHRISTOPHER FONS

Yes, the Baby Boomer Generation is an annoying self-indulgent group and seemingly blatant hypocrites, have you seen Dennis Hopper hooking for Wall Street lately?, but one thing the Boomers did do is put on the table the hard issues of the time-poverty, identity, imperialism-even though they were maybe the most affluent generation of world history. They could have sat back and counted their change but many didn’t. So why does Barack Obama want to get beyond the debates of the Boomers and “the 60’s?” Because the Right has neatly, and effectively, defined the 60’s as a time of loose morals, America hating and pervasive lawlessness-read, black people in the streets rioting and committing crimes. So Barack Obama, cleverly, wants to redefine the debate so that he can benefit politically from, as the academics say, a paradigm shift.

Barack Obama wants to become a transcendent politician. He speaks about it all the time and he embodies the idea personally. It’s a nice idea but what does it mean in the context of 2008? Two issues, race and empire, are at the center of why his task will be a difficult one.

The recent flare up about Barack Obama’s preacher bundled the issues neatly but earlier we have seen it on Tim Russert’s weekly chat with the powerful on NBC and his questioning of Barack Obama at the Democratic debate with Hillary Clinton a couple months ago. At the debate Russert wanted a denunciation of Louis Farrakhan and Jeremiah Wright and on Meet the Press in 2006 he asked Obama:

I want to talk a little bit about the language people are using in the politics now of 2006, and I refer you to some comments that Harry Belafonte made yesterday. He said that Homeland Security had become the new Gestapo. What do you think of that?

What’s Russert up to here? He seems like a nice muckraking type who asks the hard questions? But he is actually using the terms of the debate framed by the Right over the last 30 years or so. The Right wants to paint anyone who might question US foreign policy or question the institutional responsibility for millions of black and poor in the country as an America hater. There are many examples but the strategy has been so effective that wounded in action Vietnam Veteran John Kerry was easily dismissed as Ho Chi Minh’s secret agent even though the guy ran against a draft dodger. For Russert the way that he can show that he is a fair journalist is by outflanking anyone to the left of Joe Liberman by questioning their patriotism through association. And in this case the fact that his target of attack happens to be black helps link the idea that many black people are potential fifth columnists or sleeper cell Jihadi’s, isn’t that Barack Obama a Muslim? I am not saying that Russert is an active participant of the vast Right Wing conspiracy but that he has internalized the Right’s terms of debate and this makes him seem balanced in a media world that has been labeled liberal and biased.

Transcending race and empire then will be difficult for Obama then because of the way the Right has dominated the debate. If he brings up the issues of empire and the war in Iraq then he will be painted with the soft on “national security” angle. If he brings up race then he will be accused of playing the race card and being an angry black man that is soft on crime. The flag pin, no hand over the heart, is he Muslim flaps all are ways that these issues have been exploited. Combine these examples of Rosenberg type sabotage with a preacher on YouTube ranting “god damn America” and you have a decline in the polls for the transcendent hope.

The irony of the entire debate is that Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton for that matter, are no threat to the empire or fundamentally changing the way race is mediated in United States society. Obama is not calling for closure of the hundreds of bases around the world that help maintain US power across the planet, he actually is calling for an increase in US combat troops. He is not calling for a serious change in the way the economy is organized that concentrates poverty and incarceration in the minority population. He does have a plan that concentrates “a few billion” at rural and urban areas but an increasingly globalized capitalism will not be simply tamed by a few billion dollars and a Charter School in Detroit.

Obama will have difficult time changing our interventionist policies around the world and race relations for two primary reasons 1) his liberal program does not fundamentally alter the ends of US power internationally which supports the free movement of capital and a world of inequality and 2) the Right will challenge his patriotism and loyalty because they will oppose anyone who does not embrace their program of maintenance of an international war machine to support US corporate power and a policy towards race that blames the victim.

CHRISTOPHER FONS teaches US history in Milwaukee and runs the Red and the Black website. He can be reached at: fonscy@yahoo.com

 

 

 

 

More articles by:
July 25, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
As the Election Turns: Trump the Anti-Neocon, Hillary the New Darling of the Neocons
William K. Black
Doubling Down on Wall Street: Hillary and Tim Kaine
Quincy Saul
Resurgent Mexico
Ted Rall
Hillary’s Strategy: Snub Liberal Democrats, Move Right to Nab Anti-Trump Republicans
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan is Strengthened by the Failed Coup, But Turkey is the Loser
Robert Fisk
The Hypocrisies of Terror Talk
Lee Hall
Purloined Platitudes and Bipartisan Bunk: An Adjunct’s View
Binoy Kampmark
The Futility of Collective Punishment: Russia, Doping and WADA
Nozomi Hayase
Cryptography as Democratic Weapon Against Demagoguery
Cesar Chelala
The Real Donald Trump
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Propaganda Machinery and State Surveillance of Muslim Children
Denis Conroy
Australia: Election Time Blues for Clones
Marjorie Cohn
Killing With Robots Increases Militarization of Police
David Swanson
RNC War Party, DNC War Makers
Eugene Schulman
The US Role in the Israeli-Palestine Conflict
Nauman Sadiq
Imran Khan’s Faustian Bargain
Peter Breschard
Kaine the Weepy Executioner
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
Conn Hallinan
The Big Boom: Nukes And NATO
Ron Jacobs
Exacerbate the Split in the Ruling Class
Jill Stein
After US Airstrikes Kill 73 in Syria, It’s Time to End Military Assaults that Breed Terrorism
Jack Rasmus
Trump, Trade and Working Class Discontent
John Feffer
Could a Military Coup Happen Here?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Late Night, Wine-Soaked Thoughts on Trump’s Jeremiad
Andrew Levine
Vice Presidents: What Are They Good For?
Michael Lukas
Law, Order, and the Disciplining of Black Bodies at the Republican National Convention
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Why It’s Just Fine for U.S. to Blow Up Children
Victor Grossman
Horror News, This Time From Munich
Margaret Kimberley
Gavin Long’s Last Words
Mark Weisbrot
Confidence and the Degradation of Brazil
Brian Cloughley
Boris Johnson: Britain’s Lying Buffoon
Lawrence Reichard
A Global Crossroad
Kevin Schwartz
Beyond 28 Pages: Saudi Arabia and the West
Charles Pierson
The Courage of Kalyn Chapman James
Michael Brenner
Terrorism Redux
Bruce Lerro
Being Inconvenienced While Minding My Own Business: Liberals and the Social Contract Theory of Violence
Mark Dunbar
The Politics of Jeremy Corbyn
Binoy Kampmark
Laura Ingraham and Trumpism
Uri Avnery
The Great Rift
Nicholas Buccola
What’s the Matter with What Ted Said?
Aidan O'Brien
Thank Allah for Western Democracy, Despondency and Defeat
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail