The Lessons Of Politics

15 02 2010

“We have let Obama down”. Those five words are the title for the article below,  posted in the UK., Guardian. I have no idea why a news service from Great Britain would have a statement like that, so please don’t ask.

I laughed really hard when I read the title of this article, so I had to wait until my eyes cleared before I read the entire piece. Once I did read it, I stopped laughing. I stopped laughing not because I read some sad truth spouted by some whiny progressive in the media. No, I stopped chuckling and snickering like a happy drunk, when I realized how much info this Clancy fella condensed into an opinion that is only 9 paragraphs long.

The fastest way for me to point these out to the reader will be a trick I use from time to time. I will be doing all my edits on this piece in bright Red.


We have let Obama down

  • Clancy Sigal
  • Both Barack Obama and I are Chicago boys, schooled in the tough-minded, arm-twisting don’t-mess-with-me attitude of crushing rather than compromising with your unforgiving enemies. We are both products of machine politics, I from the west side’s “rotten borough” 24th ward loyally turning out Democratic party majorities of almost, and sometimes exceeding, 100% (“Vote early, vote often!”), and Barack from a south side community-organising operation that got things done door-to-door, block by block. This entire paragraph is bothersome to me, and it should bother everyone that has at least a shred of honesty left in them. This guy sounds like he’s very proud of his tough Chicago attitude of crushing, lying and cheating, and so should Obama. And according to him, you don’t compromise with your enemies (meaning: political enemies). This then lends itself to thinking along the lines of a Dictatorship. Which personally, I think Obama is capable of. Mr. Sigal seems to relish in the idea that it’s OK to vote as often as you can, on the same day. When in fact, doing so is very illegal! NOTE: Keep in mind what he writes about Obama going door to door, and block by block.

    In the 2008 election campaign President Obama’s most important strategist was the Chicago fixer David Axelrod, a master of hard-knuckle progressive neighbourhood politics who had masterminded the re-election campaign of Chicago’s first African American mayor Harold Washington. But after Obama’s inauguration the new president appears to have muzzled Axelrod in favour of Rahm Emanuel, a ferociously combative, rightwing Democratic political assassin. The enforcer Emanuel has so far failed to enforce much of anything for Obama by way of decent legislation, and Axelrod is sidelined except as a mouthpiece. I’m a little concerned here about his use of ‘hard-knuckle progressive neighborhood politics’. Does he mean hard-knuckle in the sense of knocking on a lot of doors, or does he mean it in a more pugilistic sense? Let’s hope he means knocking on doors. I’m not sure where this guy did his research, but I found that Harold Washington was elected Mayor of Chicago in 1984 and died in office in 1987. So I want to know what David Axelrod has done since then. I mean, has he always been an “important Strategist” or “master” who “master-minded” everything around him? From what I could learn in a few minutes of research… Axelrod did very little to help Washington get elected. Enough of that… I’m also a bit puzzled by Mr. Sigal’s use of “rightwing Democrat political assassin” when describing Rahm Emanuel. Does he mean Rahm will politically assassinate moderate Democrats, or should I say more Conservative Democrats? If so, Sigal don’t know squat! Rahm Emanuel was the one that won back both houses of Congress by recruiting more Conservative candidates?!

    No wonder that at home on my desk is a manila folder file labelled OBAMA BETRAYALS OF CAMPAIGN PLEDGES, so full it’s bursting apart. I was about to start a fresh new file of his latest missteps when suddenly I caught myself. Hey, wait a minute, I’m falling into the same old tired habit of reflexive negativity honed in the Bush years. This is the part where he tries to defend his Messiah. He should just stick to the folder he mentions because that’s where the truth lays.

    Howard Zinn, the historian-activist who before his recent death was probably the wisest mind on the US left, told us he was not disappointed in Obama because he never expected much in the absence of a national movement to push him in a good direction. Zinn – a lifelong student of the American abolitionist, labour, civil rights, feminist and gay rights movements – preached that real change “will have to work its way from the bottom up”. Alas, we at the “bottom” have not really been there for Obama to fight for his ear, which currently belongs to Wall Street. I find this paragraph very interesting. Howard Zinn seems to have had a lifetime hatred of any business that either made a profit, or got a government contract. In a Capitalist system, he was considered an oddity. But I’m going to give him high marks for the end of this paragraph because he accidently told the truth about Obama and Wall Street being in bed together. The comment he made about the “bottom up” sounds a lot like the Tea-Partiers across the country. So Sigal may have accidently gotten this one correct.

    Franklin Roosevelt, the president we hoped that Obama would be like, had a huge advantage over our new president. At FDR’s disposal were powerful mass movements – Huey Long’s “Share the Wealth”, Father Coughlin‘s radical racist anti-capitalist broadcasts, the elderly Townsend Clubs, the veterans’ bonus marchers and militant labour unions with their sit-down strikes – that were an effective threat, a countervailing force to rich rightwingers eager to destroy the New Deal. FDR’s good angel, his wife Eleanor, constantly reported to him about just how bad it was in the real world of the Great Depression. But Roosevelt told Eleanor and anyone else who came to him with demands for progressive change: “OK, you’ve convinced me. Now go out and put pressure on me.” This paragraph is a lesson we need to drill into our heads. So once again, learn it… especially the last two sentences.

    That’s where we’ve let Obama down. We on the American left – in a dysfunctional marriage with a bought-and-paid-for Democratic party, tamed by leechlike dependence on “non-profit” liberal foundations themselves funded by corporations, a women’s movement obsessed by the abortion issue, a gay movement fixed on gay marriage – simply aren’t up to the job. We have not backed up Obama with a serious antiwar movement (there isn’t any), and our Big Labour is too weak to fight for itself, let alone for the rest of us. Grassroots activism still exists, but during the 2008 presidential campaign we slipped into the habit of allowing ourselves to be used purely as fundraising vehicles. Fundraising is no substitute for hell raising, as the Palin-loving Tea Baggers and Town Hallers are teaching us. This paragraph is mostly whining, however, the last two sentences are two more that need to be noted and remembered.

    Obama came into office with a mandate for change. That should have been our signal not to sit back and wait for him to deliver but to mobilise to make sure he followed through. Instead, we relaxed our “Chicago muscle”, the hard volunteer work that elected him. And I started my self-satisfying, ultimately pointless OBAMA BETRAYAL file. Here he goes getting all confused again. Obama had no such mandate when he got into office. Usually a mandate is when one side wins in a landslide, and the other side slinks off knowing it got it’s ass kicked. No such thing happened in the 2008 presidential elections. If Sigal has no use for it, I may ask him to send his OBAMA BETRAYAL file to me!

    Last week in America’s northwest, Oregon voters, who are traditionally anti-tax-increase, showed how Chicago muscle works. Against fierce opposition led by Nike and other big businesses, they delivered a huge progressive victory by approving tax-raising measures on the wealthy and corporations. They did it the low-tech way, slogging door to door, volunteers from an improvised coalition of unions, community groups and small businesses, working together to overcome a well-funded rightwing scare campaign. Forget the last 6 words of this paragraph. The rest of this paragraph is telling us exactly how campaigns will be won in the future. Learn the lessons for our side, or our side will perish. 

    Sooner or later we on the American left will rise again and look beyond single-issue obsessions, sever our dependence on corporate charity, and – as FDR and Howard Zinn advised – relearn the lesson of how to apply pressure on a president who needs us more than we need him. Blah, blah, blah, blah…

    Let me wrap this up by pointing out the lessons learned…

    First we learn that the left will work hard, cheat, and lie, to get one of their own elected. Then we learn, or should learn, how to win elections for the foreseable future, we earn them. Many Conservatives may be loathe to get out and go door-to-door making personal connections with people, but it is the way elections will be won from now on. As we have recently seen, throwing money into commercials can no longer be counted on to bring in the votes. We are now in an era where real Grass-Roots campaigning will win over gobs of money, so we must take advantage of this while we still have time.  And finally, we learn to win elections by Hell Raising, not fundraising. Let’s also throw in… ‘the pyramid of power’ needs be turned upside down, just as our Founding Fathers wished for, the power must come once again from the bottom-up.

    One last thing that Clancy Sigal accidently taught us. If we work hard to get polticians elected, we must have something of a public cryer to give daily public updates on what he/she politician is doing. “Keep the pressure on” is how Clancy put it. If a candidate runs on a platform of rooting out corruption from public office, then he/she should be expected to start doing so on day #1 of their term.

    You may have noticed that I have not used the names “Republican” in any of my comments, so I’m hoping nobody jumps to conclusions. When “We The People” want to win an election, we should use the methods I mention above so people win elections, not parties!




    2 responses

    16 02 2010

    Last week in America’s northwest, Oregon voters, who are traditionally anti-tax-increase, showed how the Chicago muscle works. HAHAHA…he’s just touting what he believes is proof that the muscle works. I lived in Oregon for 3 years and trust me, they are the complete opposite of this. They are just as equally, if not a little more, progressive as Seattlites…never met a tax or levy they didn’t love.

    Sounds like he’s jumping on the “play tough” bandwagon along w/Huffpo and a couple other left wing blogs. They probably got their marching orders from Soros since The Traitor is failing….

    16 02 2010

    No doubt!

    I am seriously surprised that nobody has taken out Soros considering how dangerous he is.


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