Why Barack Obama is the More Effective Evil
Black Agenda Report executive editor Glen Ford made the following presentation at the Left Forum, Pace University, New York City, March 17. On the panel were Gloria Mattera, Margaret Kimberley (BAR), Suren Moodliar, John Nichols, and Victor Wallis. The discussion was titled, “The 2012 Elections: Lesser Evil or Left Alternative?”
Power to the people!
Let me say from the very beginning that we at Black Agenda Report do not think that Barack Obama is the Lesser Evil. He is the more Effective Evil.
He has been more effective in Evil-Doing than Bush in terms of protecting the citadels of corporate power, and advancing the imperial agenda. He has put both Wall Street and U.S. imperial power on new and more aggressive tracks—just as he hired himself out to do.
That was always Wall Street’s expectation of Obama, and his promise to them. That’s why they gave him far more money in 2008 than they gave John McCain. They were buying Obama futures on the electoral political market—and they made out like bandits.
They invested in Obama to protect them from harm, as a hedge against the risk of systemic disaster caused by their own predations. And, it was a good bet, a good deal. It paid out in the tens-of-trillions of dollars.
If you believe that what Wall Street does is Evil, then Obama’s service to Wall Street is Evil, and there is nothing lesser about it.
They had vetted Obama, thoroughly, before he even set foot in the U.S. Senate in 2004.
He protected their interests there, helping shield corporations from class action suits, and voting against caps on credit card interest. He was their guy back then—and some of us were saying so, back then.
He was the bankers’ guy in the Democratic presidential primary race. Among the last three standing in 2008, it was Obama who opposed any moratorium on home foreclosures. John Edwards supported a mandatory moratorium and Hillary Clinton said she wanted a voluntary halt to foreclosures. But Barack Obama opposed any moratorium. Let it run its course, said candidate Obama. And, true to his word, he has let the foreclosures run their catastrophic course.
Only a few months later, when the crunch came and Finance Capital was in meltdown, who rescued Wall Street? Not George Bush. Bush tried, but he was spent, discredited, ineffective. Not John McCain. He was in a coma, coming unglued, totally ineffective.
Bush’s bailout failed on a Monday. By Friday, Obama had convinced enough Democrats in opposition to roll over—and the bailout passed, setting the stage for a new dispensation between the American State and Wall Street, in which a permanent pipeline of tens-of-trillions of dollars would flow directly into Wall Street accounts, via the Federal Reserve.
And Obama had not even been elected yet.
Obama put Social Security and Medicaid and all Entitlements on the table, in mid-January. The Republicans had suffered resounding defeat. Nobody was pressuring Obama from the Right.
When the Right was on its ass, Obama stood up and spoke in their stead. There was no Evil Devil forcing him to put Entitlements on the chopping block. It was HIM. He was the Evil One—and it was not a Lesser Evil. It was a very Effective Evil, because the current Age of Austerity began on that day, in January 2009.
And Obama had not even been sworn in as president, yet.
Who is the Effective Evil? I haven’t even gotten into his actual term as president, much less his expansion of the theaters of war, his unique assaults on International Law, and his massacre of Due Process of Law in the United States. But I want to pause right here, because piling up facts on Obama’s Most Effective Evils doesn’t seem to do any good if the prevailing conversation isn’t really about facts—but about intentions.
The prevailing assumption on the Left is that Obama has good intentions. He intends to the Right Thing—or, at least, he intends to do better than the Republicans intend to do. It’s all supposed to be about intentions. Let’s be clear: There is absolutely no factual basis to believe he intends to do anything other than the same thing he has already done, whether Democrats control Congress or not, which is to serve Wall Street’s most fundamental interests.
But, the whole idea of debating Obama’s intentions is ridiculous. It’s psychobabble, not analysis. No real Left would engage in it.
I have no doubt that Newt Gingrich and Republicans in general have worse intentions for the future of my people—of Black people—than Michelle Obama’s husband does. But, that doesn’t matter. Black people are not going to roll over for whatever nightmarish Apocalypse the sick mind of Newt Gingrich would like to bring about. But, they have already rolled over for Obama’s economic Apocalypse in Black America. There has been very little resistance. Which is just another way of saying that Obama has successfully blunted any retribution by organized African America against the corporate powers that have devastated and destabilized Black America in ways that have little precedence in modern times.
Obama has protected these Wall Streeters from what should be the most righteous wrath of Black folks. To take a riff from Shakespeare’s Othello, “Obama has done Wall Street a great service, and they know it.” He has proven to be fantastically effective at serving the Supremely Evil. Don’t you dare call him the Lesser.
He is the More Effective Evil because Black Folks—historically, the most progressive cohort in the United States—and Liberals, and even lots of folks that call themselves Marxists, let him get away with murder! Yet, people still insist on calling him a Lesser Evil, while he drives a stake through Due Process of Law.
I have not spoken much about the second half of Obama’s first term in office. That is the period when the Left generally becomes disgusted with what they call his excessive “compromises” and “cave-ins” to Republicans. But that is a profoundly wrong reading of reality. Obama was simply continuing down his own Road to Austerity—the one he, himself, had initiated before even taking office. The only person caving in and compromising to the Republicans was the Obama that many of YOU made up in your heads.
The real Obama was the initiator of this Austerity nightmare—a nightmare scripted on Wall Street, which provided the core of Obama’s policy team from the very beginning. That’s why Obama’s so-called Financial Reform was so diligent in making sure that Derivatives were virtually untouched.
The real Obama retained Bush’s Secretary of War, because he was determined to re-package the imperial enterprise and expand the scope and theaters of war.
He would dress up the war machine head-to-foot in a Chador of Humanitarianism, and march deep and deeper into Africa.
He would make merciless and totally unprovoked war against Libya—and then tell Congress there had been no war at all, and it was none of their business, anyway.
And he got away with it.
Now, that is the Most Effective Evil war mongering imaginable. Don’t you dare call him a Lesser Evil. Obama is Awesomely Evil.
Obama has advanced the corporatization of the public schools beyond Bush’s wildest dreams, methodically constructing a national, parallel system of charter schools that, in practice, undermine and subvert the traditional public schools. In some places, they have replaced, or soon will replace, the public schools. The hedge funds and billionaires are ecstatic! The teachers unions then endorse their undertaker, foolishly believing he is the Lesser Evil.
So, what does the Left do in this election? The Left should do what it is supposed to do here in the Belly of the Beast at all times: disarm the Beast. This is their singular duty—not to advise the Beast, but to disarm it. At this time on the world historical clock, that means ripping the farcical “humanitarian” veil from the face of U.S. wars—and that face is Obama’s face.
No genuine anti-war activist can endorse the war-maker, Obama. If you want to resist actual imperial wars, you must fight Obama. Period. Anything else is to endorse or acquiesce in his wars.
You can attend the United National Anti-War Coalition conference in Stamford, Connecticut, next weekend, where you can meet with an array of organizations to begin a calendar of activities that will stretch past Election Day. You can join with UNAC in working to stop Obama from doing a repeat of Libya in Syria and Iran. If you can’t bring yourself to do that, then I have no advice for you, because the alternative is acquiescence to Obama’s cynical duplicities.
If the Green Party or any other party firmly opposes Obama’s humanitarian, Orwellian farce, then support them. If they don’t, then don’t lift a finger for them.
If you are going to fight for anything, you’ve got to fight for the right to fight. That means fighting for the rule of law. So, if you don’t plan to go underground or into exile anytime soon, you must fight the president who claims the right to imprison or kill any person, of any nationality, any place on Earth, for reasons known only to him. The man who excelled George Bush by shepherding preventive detention through Congress—Barack Obama, the More Effective Evil.
Fight him this election year. Fight him every year that he’s here.
Power to the People!
—Black Agenda Report, March 21, 2012