Barack Obama is coming to the town where I live. Like most other towns he will visit this election year, the state this town is in voted for Mr. Obama in 2008. It is a state full of Democrats and liberals. Many of those Democrats and liberals also have lots of money that they will give to Mr. Obama. Some of them expect something in return for their donation, while others are just happy to see a Democrat in the White House.
There are some of us in town that plan to protest when Mr. Obama hits town. We aren’t birthers and we aren’t Tea Partiers. Some of us even voted for Mr. Obama. All of us are pissed off. Having a Democrat in the White House has not made much of a difference, even for those that thought it would. Obama has not fulfilled hardly any of the promises he made to his progressive supporters. There are multiple reasons to protest.
Because the reason for his visit is to raise cash for a politics that leaves most people out.
Because Guantanamo Bay prison is not closed.
Because the US is still spending $3 billion a year in Iraq.
Because Bradley Manniing is in jail for exposing the truth about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while the liars who started the wars walk free.
Because thousands of Iraq and Afghan War vets are without work.
Because thousands of those vets suffer from PTSD and other combat-related illnesses.
Because millions of people are homeless, including thousands of veterans, women and children.
Because millions of houses sit empty after banks foreclosed on them and kicked out the residents.
Because the banks that engaged in illegal foreclosure actions are not being prosecuted.
Because Washington continues to support Israel’s expansionist policies in the Middle East and against the Palestinian people.
Because Washington seems more willing to go to war against Iran instead of agreeing to unconditional negotiations.
Because sanctions are an act of war that harms civilians.
Because the Defense budget (not including VA) is over a trillion dollars
Because Washington has military bases in 450 countries.
Because the Pentagon wants to send Special Forces death squads anywhere at any time to kill whomever they want.
Because Empire is unsustainable, unwanted and wrong.
Because Barack Obama refuses to stand up to the right wing women haters in the Congress.
Because the homophobic Defense of Marriage Act is still on the books.
Because Barack Obama bailed out the banks instead of the workers.
Because Barack Obama pays lip service to workers’ right to unionize while his policies do nothing to help workers to unionize.
Because student debt should be forgiven.
Because the post office is being destroyed and sold off.
Because schools and libraries are being closed.
Because 44 million Americans don’t have health care and many of those won’t be able to afford that offered via Obama’s “health care” plan.
Because immigrant families are being shattered by ICE.
Because the underemployment rate stands at around 16%, with more than half of that number being people with no job at all. The unemployment rate for black Americans is even higher. This is also the case for youth.
Because the DEA continues to arrest medicinal marijuana providers.
Because CEOs average paycheck increased 24% since 2008 despite a failing economy.
Because business as usual is the business of exploitation.
Because Obama represents business as usual.
Because Obama talks some of the talk of the 99%, but his actions benefit the one percent 99% of the time.
There are many more reasons, some that go beyond Mr. Obama and get closer to the heart of the problem in the United States—the fact that it is ruled by the corporate and financial elite. However, Mr. Obama’s staunch defense of that elite and his continued acceptance of their millions only underlines his complicity. To those who agree that Barack Obama has audaciously failed to not only deliver on most of his promises, but has failed to generate much hope at all, yet want to give him another chance, let me say this:
Democracy is not merely at the ballot box. When the choice is between two people whose means are well beyond most of those voting, then how representative of your needs and desires can the winner be? Democracy does not end the day after elections. That’s when it begins. The corporations and the banks don’t stop pressuring and sending money to politicians once they get elected. Indeed, they step up the pressure. It’s time the people do the same.
Ron Jacobs is the author of The Way the Wind Blew: a History of the Weather Underground and Short Order Frame Up. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. His collection of essays and other musings titled Tripping Through the American Night is now available and his new novel is The Co-Conspirator’s Tale. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, forthcoming from AK Press. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.