I know this might not be easy, but I'm worried about you, erstwhile Obama supporter. I believe your addiction has gotten out of control, and it’s time for you to stop. For yourself, for those you love, for America.
Admit it: you have a hopium problem. I know, I know - it was all so fun and innocent when it started. Hillary Clinton was so boring, so establishment, and America didn’t need a gentle nudge to the left. It needed a movement with a fire in its belly, a shift in consciousness towards a New Jerusalem of Justice and Accountability. Of Hope, and Change! I was right there with you in 2008. I can’t count the number times I went red-faced, out of breath, promoting The Great Audacitor to liberals and conservatives alike. And for the first time in many of our lifetimes, it worked! My parents, who hesitated to call themselves conservatives but hadn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since the ‘70s, eventually gave in. My fierce Clintonite friends didn’t hold out for long either. The media was in love. Fox News was powerless to stop it. Beware ye corrupt and capricious! Obama is coming! On election night I cried like a North Korean catching a glimpse of the Dear Leader. We flooded into the streets of Manhattan, chanting and hollering, garbagemen waving and honking as they zoomed by, trapped taxi drivers kicked back and smiled - economic meltdown what? Who cares, Obama’s here! He’ll take care of it!
...and then he actually took office. I can still remember that sinking feeling in my gut when he unveiled his economic team: Tim Geithner, Bob Rubin, and Larry Summers, three of the Wall Street-friendly clowns who helped deregulate the financial system in the nineties. Fresh off of multi-million dollar stints at major banks and “esteemed” universities, back to advise our power-brokers on what the smart move was. A little disconcerting, but hey, the economy was still in turmoil, right? We uh, needed some expertise...whatever, he’s Obama, he’ll do the right thing!
Besides some shit-talking about excessive bonuses, the Justice Department kicked back and decided to just chill for a bit. Like, three years. The SEC put away Bernie “turned-myself-in-so-the-Mob-wouldn’t-kill-me” Madoff, then went back to their favored pastime of wanking it to porn in their cubicles (if only that were a metaphor). And we waited, all the while thinking, maybe next year. Obama’s smart, he’s playing chess. He’ll know when to pull the trigger on systemic reform.
First was health care. Finally! America’s health care system was shit, and now the Change-ifier was going to, well, change some things. First thing out the door was single payer. Not even on the table. Oh well, I thought. With the way the GOP was acting, that probably didn’t have a chance. Then came the public option. My god, it was popular! Comfortable majorities in every poll liked it. the CBO estimated it would lower the cost of the bill by over $100 billion. And it was sort of like single-payer, amirite? I was willing to take it. And then the Obama administration did the legislative equivalent to a hamster eating her young because she thinks they’re in danger. Democrat after Democrat in committees killed it as quietly and awkwardly as possible, the publicly stated reason being they weren’t sure it would pass. Not that they tried, but you know, they had a general feeling about it. To my dismay, Captain Change was nowhere to be seen. A costly, bureaucratic handout to the health insurance companies was eked out and hailed as, to loosely paraphrase Joe Biden, the greatest fucking achievement since the Moon Landing. Barack Obama, valiant defender of the people, steward of progress, had signed Mitt Romney’s health care plan into law. Hallelujah?
Next came the Big One: financial reform! No way he was gonna let this one slide into mediocrity! It was a tough fight. A few brave men in congress begged and pleaded the administration to back a few simple, common-sense reforms. Cap the market share of banking institutions at 10%, Sherrod Brown said. You can solve too big to fail with one sentence. This barely-reported on amendment was swiftly killed in committee by the subprime-scamming Marshmellow Man, Chris Dodd without a word from Obama. The administration’s own Paul Volcker, the former Fed Chairman who killed inflation in the 1980s, submitted a three-page memo calling for the partial resurrection of Glass-Steagall (for you non-Occupiers, that was the New Deal law, repealed by Clinton, separating commercial and investment banking). It was tossed into the Congressional meat grinder and stuffed so full of exemptions that Volcker didn’t even recognize the final version. But surely Obama would...yeah, you see where I’m going with this. The laughable mediocrity known as Dodd-Frank passed on a party line vote, changing absolutely nothing about our fraud-ridden financial system.
My defenses of him were getting a little more weary and desperate, like a black-eyed housewife who passionately insists her man still loves and takes care of her. Who else was gonna take care of us, huh? The Republicans? They think we’re all traitors and Maoists! Yeah, Obama isn’t perfect, but at least he’s on our side, and that counts for something, right?! Did you hear his latest speech? I know deep down he’s still the man I elected...
Turn on MSNBC any day of the week and you’ll hear this party line. Instead of a new era of statesmanship and progressive thinking, many of us were reduced to lapping up the rhetoric of cable news blowhards like Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, and Ed Schultz, whose sneering arrogance warmed us like a freebase hit of partisan vitriol in a dank Washington alleyway. Many couldn’t even realize that corporate-owned MSNBC had cynically transformed into the Fox News of the left, spoonfeeding the sheeple what they wanted to hear. LEAN FORWARD - just don’t bite it, baby. Everything’s gonna be okay; I’ll keep you safe from those Teabaggers at Fox.
By the time 2011 rolled around, I was burnt out defending the Obama administration. Reading the Huffington Post and Daily Kos made me nauseous. It reminded me of the neoconservative apologists of the last decade, who were stuck defending Bush & Co. past the point of revulsion. Their "Yeah but the GOP..." defenses of Obama had the desperate tunnel vision of a crackhead, their imaginations stunted by too many easy fixes of hopium. Sure, the drug wasn’t working the way it had at first, but they couldn’t stop chasing the dragon.
About six months ago I made the renegade finance blog Zero Hedge my new daily read, and it hit me like cold turkey. Apparently, everything was fucked. Analysis of the markets proved both the left and right in America were largely clueless and irrelevant forces. Both parties were trying to paper over the inevitable collapse of the global financial system with debt and austerity, but this would only exacerbate the problem. Official unemployment statistics were falsified bullshit. Keynesianism and Reaganism were both dead in the water. Goldman Sachs really was a vampire squid attached the face of humanity, and a good chunk of Obama’s Treasury Department was filled with its alumni (as was the SEC). In short, the whole fucking game was rigged and nobody in power had the expertise, desire, or fortitude to do anything about it.
All of this news was a weight off my shoulders. I wasn’t completely insane! Obama, I came to realize, was just the latest poster boy of the Globalization experiment. We’re not taught to think this way in American politics, but it’s the most accurate summation of how things actually work. Following the end of the Cold War, the (nominally) capitalist governments of the world embarked on the most ambitious growth scheme ever attempted in the history of our species. It was the most substantial rise in living standards ever; it was also the fastest expansion of debt, both consumer and sovereign, that we’ve ever seen. This entire debt-based ponzi scheme is dependent on one central factor: GDP growth. When global growth sputters out, debts skyrocket and the ability to pay those debts becomes increasingly unlikely. Many choose to cut their spending (“like a family!”), but with nations this leads to decreased output and a decrease in GDP growth, compounding the problem even further (see: Greece, Ireland). A total death spiral. This is what we, as a global economy, are locked in right now, and this is what Obama and Geithner, as well as the leaders of Europe, Japan, and China, are desperately trying to avert. That is why you haven’t seen prosecutions of bankers on Wall Street: because they fear the recoil from such a move could literally demolish the global economy. Also known as, criminals on Wall Street are using the imminent global meltdown as leverage. If they go down, the whole world goes with it.
As a liberal, is this something you’re okay with? If the answer is an emphatic “NO!”, I might have seen you out on the streets this fall with the Occupy movement. I had hundreds of political discussions with all types of people during our encampment, and not one of them expressed support for Barack Obama. Why? My guess is they are aware of the above paragraph and have woken up to the fact that Obama is not a change agent. He’s literally the opposite of change, a small-c conservative. He’s dedicating the entire weight of his presidency to beefing up the American police state and covering up the systemic instabilities of our financial sector. Like all modern presidents, he is surrounded by legions of sleazy Washington advisors who have coaxed him into the "correct" way of thinking. He will soon likely sign the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, which codifies the indefinite detention of US citizens, and the Stop Online Piracy Act, which ironically criminalizes the online activities of so many young people who passionately supported his campaign in 2008.
So you, good liberal, who has always argued for fairness, equality, and justice, I want you to practice reciting a phrase for me, just to see how it feels.
Fuck Barack Obama.
Just try it.
Fuck Barack Obama!
Look! You haven’t turned into a Tea Partier! You still have your principles! It’s important to get comfortable saying this as a liberal because it’s Obama who has betrayed his principles, not you. The spirit of our democratic republic demands your outrage. The better angels of our American nature demand that you don’t just kick back complacently and vote for Obama because he’s “better than the other side”. Have you noticed the arrogance of the White House over the past three years, never worried as to whether Obama’s 2008 coalition will come out and vote for him again? His smarmy, corrupt aides cannot fathom that you would ever abandon the Dear Leader. But let’s just think for a second - what if you did?
What I’m about to say might scare you. But there is a way out of the trick you’re supposed to turn for the Democratic National Committee next year. His name is Dr. Ron Paul- WAIT, DON’T STOP READING. I know you hate him because he’s anti-abortion. You hate him because you heard him say he wanted to get rid of the EPA. And he’s insane, and vaguely anti-Semitic, or something (he’s neither). But listen.
Ron Paul is the only candidate in 2012 who has consistently opposed all of our post-9/11 wars. He is the only politician with the balls to tell a stage full of chest-thumping neoconservatives that terrorists hate us because of our violent and abusive foreign policies, not because of our Awesome Freedom. When’s the last time any Democrat did that in public?
Ron Paul is the only candidate to vigorously defend internet freedom and speak out against SOPA, as well as the civil liberties-shredding dictates of the Bush and Obama administrations.
Ron Paul is the only candidate to challenge, over his entire career, the corrosive influence of the Wall Street-controlled Federal Reserve on our economy and currency.
Ron Paul is the only candidate to call for an unequivocal end to the costly and absurd War on Drugs.
Ron Paul is also the only candidate regularly ignored, mocked, and despised by every facet of the corporate media, from Fox News to MSNBC. The establishment hates him with a passion. He’s the only candidate that Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow both sneer at.
And why do they hate him? My guess is because he talks about issues that are actually important, issues that transcend the Sportscenter-y left-right paradigm. The forces of the status quo - that elusive “.0001%” - would love for us to squabble eternally about abortion, guns, and gay marriage while they loot our Treasury, foreclose on our homes, devalue our currency, and enslave us with debt. But wacky Uncle Ron just keeps denouncing the war-mongering towards Iran, and wants to keep our cracked-out financial markets from dragging the world into a second Dark Age. What a dick!
Don’t get me wrong - I’m not saying “you should agree with Ron Paul’s view on abortion”. I don’t, and likely never will. But the notion that my favorite presidential candidate has to be the one who checks off all the items on my ideological grocery list is, frankly, a load of shit. It’s a lie, a false metric we sell ourselves: “I’m no mark, I pay attention to politics - I want to know where the candidates stand on the issues!” Except the “issues” only include those framed and sanitized by thousands of media producers, beltway columnists, lobbyists, and political strategists. Watch CNN for five minutes and you’ll see what I’m talking about. It’s why cable news has spent the last two months yammering about the payroll tax cut while Europe’s economy teeters on the edge of an abyss and revolution is sweeping every corner of the civilized world.
And I hate to say it, but character matters. I don’t need to convince you about the lacking character of Paul’s troglodyte opponents, but Obama should not be given a free pass due to relativity. He should know better, and he campaigned like he knew better. That’s why we supported him. Ron Paul, on the other hand, has been stunningly consistent on his arguments since he entered politics in 1976. He’s co-sponsored anti-Fed legislation with one of the only other principled people in congress, the socialist Bernie Sanders. When Jay Leno asked Paul last week what he thinks of Michelle Bachmann, his reply was, “She hates Muslims.” On Rick Santorum? “Gay people and Muslims.” Would Obama, the first black president, ever have the balls to confront bigotry so frankly?
I have to state just one more time, this isn’t some Ronald Reagan conversion moment. I hate the GOP, particularly its current Tea Party-flavored incarnation. I’m not telling you to abandon your liberal convictions and veer right like your Baby Boomer parents did. In fact, a major reason I’m telling you to consider supporting Ron Paul is because the GOP establishment hates him so much. The look on Sean Hannity’s face on Iowa Caucus night if Paul wins is enough motivation to write this article.
One thing I always notice in gang documentaries is that the endless feud between the Bloods and Crips always comes off as ridiculous, because they seem exactly the same from the outside. The same is true about our politics. When you step back and look at the two parties, rhetoric aside, their actions are remarkably similar. They’re two heads of the same beast. They start wars and cut taxes. They let corporations and banks get away with murder. When Republicans deregulate, it’s because of their convictions. When Democrats deregulate, it’s due to their pragmatism. I challenge you to tell me what the difference is in the end.
If my Ron Paul pitch doesn’t convince you, so be it. But for the love of God, vote Green Party or Libertarian next year. Don't let the mainstream media ridicule you for "throwing your vote away", because you have determined that Obama is not fighting for you. That is your right as a voter. We need to stop feeding this two-headed monster. Voting for Obama in 2012, based on his actions as president, is a formal surrender of the principles you were fighting for when you supported him in 2008. Search your feelings. You know it to be true.
- David Romanski