Obama’s mini revolution
Posted on November 17th, 2012

H. L. D. Mahindapala

 After the gruelling, 6-billion presidential election, America is sitting in the afterglow of a comparatively quiet revolution which has happened with a narrow margin, leaving America divided into two growling halves. The import of the election is yet to surface in full force. Eventually when it makes its presence felt it will stand out as the reference point from which America will draw its directions as it heads into the years to come.

 The re-election of Obama is more than a personal victory for him. It is, by far, the election that will define the critical ideological shift which runs into many layers. Primarily, it is a shift from the basic self-help, each-for-himself and catch-as-catch-can ethic on which America was brought up to a more inter-dependent, neighbourly and compassionate society. The do-it-yourself brash capitalism has been transformed into a sharing, caring, community-centred welfarism. Obama care will be the iconic centre piece of the mini revolution. But it has other layers too reflecting just not the multi-ethnic diversity but also geo-political realities of a new multi-lateral world that recognizes and accepts the limitations of a uni-polar power without withdrawing into another Munro Doctrine.

 In short, President Barack Obama has at last brought America down to earth. America will never go back to its past again the way it has been in the better part of the 20th century, particularly after World War II. In his articulate but non-abrasive style Obama challenged everything that was sacred in American politics, economics and culture and won. He dragged American kicking and screaming into the new realities of the 21st century. With his landmark success Obama has written the parameters of American governance of the future.

 His second election consolidated and entrenched the paradigm shift he began tentatively, sensitively and even nervously in the first term. The imperatives of the ideological and political shifts were confirmed by the me-tooism of Mitt Romney. As the election drew to a close Romney was shifting so fast that he was sliding willy-nilly into Obama’s political tabernacle without acknowledging it. In the end Romney had virtually nothing to offer except Obama care. When he abandoned the roots from which he began his primaries — a move that stunned the Tea Party right-wingers — America drifted with him, unwittingly no doubt, into Obama’s care. He was so close to Obama in the end that if he won the election he would have been the beneficiary of the political agenda of Obama which was beginning to unravel and revive America from the Bushy depths into which it had fallen. It is the revolution that had its roots in Obama’s first term and advanced almost unobtrusively into full blossom in beginning of the second term. It is the revolution that had to take place and Obama did it his way.

 Obama’s political thrust to pull American out of the encrusted ancien regime of the conservative right is a remarkable achievement that would have had to go through the passage possibly of a bloody revolution in another time, in another place and with another set of leaders at the helm. Obama’s popular mandate, grabbing the monopoly of power of the mighty right, stands out a a bloodless revolution. The popular will and the failure of the private sector to live up to its promises — the American dream — have tilted the moral and political power in favour of Obama.

 The nation had been suffocating in a concretised ideological past for too long. The right-wing was screaming its head off about the apocalyptic end that was coming round the corner with Obama riding all four horses simultaneously. For a while it seemed that the Christian right was poised to defeat “the apocalyptic rider”. Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News, the last refuge of the dying breed, was hissing like Gorgon heads ready to sting anything that crossed its path. But America, perhaps instinctively recognising the new realities, has said goodbye to the hedonistic days of Great Gatsby and moved closer but not exactly to the left-wing visions in Grapes of Wrath. Big government has come to stay. The myth of small government will continue to play in the rhetoric of the right-wing though sliding markedly down the decibel levels as time goes by.

 The radical slide to the American left began with the arrival of Obama on the American political landscape. That in itself was an unimaginable revolution. A black man in the White House was the first symbol that cast its shadow of coming events. But, of course, he did not get to the White House because he was black but because he was white. In office he proved that he was more white than George Bush. Once ensconced in office he could do things that Bush couldn’t do. With his left-wing credentials he could even win the Nobel Peace Prize and kill more non-Americans without losing face. He could do what no other president could do: win an election amidst the highest unemployment record. The power of Obama was in daring to take new paths. To take the roads not taken before. His greatest show of strength was in taking America down new paths to the future.

 It was a huge gamble. In short, Obama took America under his care with a philosophy that went against the grain of self-made America fashioned out of trickle down capitalism. The two ideologies confronted each other in Ohio where the auto-industry, teetering on the verge of a crash, was rescued by Obama care. The social worker from Chicago triumphed over the ideologically fixated free-marketeer who abandoned Ohio to Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest economics. Ohio was the defining battleground of the competing ideologies of Obama and Romney. When Obama won Ohio it turned out to be a reward of gratitude from an electorate which was rescued not by free market enterprise but by the daring  enterprise of Big Government. Ohio proved that private gains come from public enterprise pumping money into private enterprise.

 It validated Obama’s cry: “If you’ve been successful you didn’t get there on your own”. Yes, Big Business got to where it is because the Big Government helped them all the way to the top. But Obama’s declamation attacking the core of the hallowed mythology in the American political culture was absolutely obnoxious to the ears of Big Business. Mitt Romney, naturally, grabbed it with both hands assuming that he could hang Obama with his anti-establishment rhetoric. Yes, it was a risky statement to make in the middle of an election campaign dominated by a pro-enterprise culture. Obama’s slogan went against the fundamentals of American free market ethos. It was like Prime Minister Manmohan Singh advocating the killing of the sacred cows in the middle of an Indian election. Yet Mitt Romney couldn’t run far with it. The grassroot coalition of the new electoral forces of America had shifted significantly, moving away from relying entirely on free enterprise, and was not in the mood to believe in outdated, laissez-faire Romneconomics”.

 Besides, successive global financial crises — particularly the subprime lending crisis in America — had battered the image of free enterprise as a reliable Salvation Army. What was seen in the halcyon days as a solution was increasingly looking like a problem. The private sector had lost its early vigour and seemed weakened unable to stand on its own two feet. Changing America needed a new politico-economic agenda of hope and Obama was willing to write it, shifting to the left within the overall capitalist framework.

 America was yearning urgently for renewal. Obama was willing to renew it with Big Government — something which was anathema to the dogmatic right of the Tea Party. The old myths of free enterprise had run out of steam. New hopes arising from the new political alignments in the American electorate needed new perspectives. There was nothing new in Romney’s me-tooism. When the genuine original is staring in your face why go for me-tooism!

 There was also a  sense of  tiredness overtaking America. The first post-Mayflower generation that worked their  guts out to build America was no longer certain of their identity. The 21st century arrived at their doorstep loaded with a different set of migrants who looked different, didn’t speak English and was not seen  on Sunday Churches. They were bonded more to the supermarket than to the land. They had no  kinship with the land like the white oldies. Their hopes and aspirations looked outside the traditional society. Obama sailed back to Europe to  fulfil their dreams. The European model of a welfare state seemed more appropriate to America which has weathered enough of economic Franken storms wiping out the secure markets that stabilised society and lives.

 Besides, the politicised Christianity of the White Supremacists that dictated right-wing morality to America had lost its grip on the changing demographics. America had been struggling for a long time to break loose from the straight-jacket of the Christian Right — a malevolent force with sub-cutaneous fascist tendencies that had the potential to grab power and drag America to anti-democratic extremism. In fact, Rev. Billy Graham, the pop preacher, the Catholic Bishops, Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, the Nuns on the Bus in Midwest and other assorted Christian fronts ganged up against Obama. It had succeeded in the past but for the first time the anti-thesis triumphed. The coalition of marijuana, abortionists, gay rights workers, immigration, youth, women etc., beat them hollow.

 This is the icing on the cake of the American Revolution. The defeated Christian gang, no doubt, will regroup and try to stage a come back. But even if they do — political pendulums tend to swing from time to time — it is unlikely that they will roll back the map of the new demographics.

 Of course, this does not mean that America will swing to the other end of the religious spectrum represented by the likes of President Obama’s former chaplain in Chicago, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who told his congregation: “God damn America!” If American Christianity is to regain its lost grip it has to move away from its extreme right-wing and move closer to the center-left programmes of Obama. What is more, it appears right now that God is on the side of Obama. It seems like that because only a messiah of Biblical proportions could have shifted America from its entrenched traditional right to centre-left. Only a crew cut and clean shaven Moses could have written on stone the medicare that entitles the poor American to state-sponsored health insurance.

 Now that he has got over the biggest hurdle the second lap may not run into the same kind of fierceness that opposed him in the first lap. He has nothing to lose now except the fear of another unexpected Frankenstorm, or the fear of the Middle East exploding out of control, or the private sector running amok globally. If his investments in his centre-left programmes and the economy pays him good dividends he could smile a bit more.

 The road ahead, however, is not paved with roses. The right-wing is still out to get him anyway they can. He must be aware that he has miles to go before America can sleep. Miles to go before he can go to sleep because history has a way of going back to its past over and over again relentlessly.

 F. Scott Fitzgerald summarized this tragic vision in Great Gatsby when he wrote: “So we beat on, boats against the currents, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

6 Responses to “Obama’s mini revolution”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    Obama’s FIRST act was getting Israel to attack Arabs!!

    Bush did a similar thing.

    Now Obama wants Israel to invade and destroy Arab houses, schools, hospitals, parliament (already destroyed), etc.

    IF Egypt comes to DEFEND Arabs in Israel, Muslim Brotherhood gets it too! This seems to be the plan. Two birds in one stone. IF Iran tries to save them, Iran will get it too. Three birds in one stone.

    When it comes to war, both Obama and Bush are the same. One talks a lot about war, the other more silent. Same action.

  2. Fran Diaz Says:

    You have written some beautiful political poetry here, HLD !

    Mother Nature added her mite to New Age Politics, when hurricane Sandy struck the east coast of USA, bringing to a glaring spot light that the need of government help to the suffering victims is an unquestionable must, and thus the importance of government in countries, large or small, when tragedy strikes.

    Similarly, in Germany, when the Recession struck Europe recently, the German govt. bailed out private companies by requesting the failing private enterprises not to lay off any workers, but to only reduce some work hours, and actually paying the wages lost by reduction of hours. As a result the workers got their full normal pay even though work hours were reduced. Not only were the jobs saved, but the general population had money to buy goods off the shelves of shops, money circulated, businesses were saved and families did not starve or suffer loses. Thus Germany survived the recession due to government help.

    All this and more is proof positive that governments and private enterprise ought to work together for the betterment of the people and country, anywhere.

  3. Dham Says:

    What LorenZion said is right on the mark and true.

    Billions have been spent by Zionists ( with American taxpayers’s own money from the bail out) to bail out Obama.

    Obama will also come after SriLanka next – no doubt on this.

    Nevertheless, Obama is still considered better option than Romney ( to Arabs and the mankind in general) and opposite is true for Sri lanka.

  4. Fran Diaz Says:

    In USA, the car industry (General Motors) was also bailed out of bankruptcy with new rules set in place to make sure of a winning future, by the Obama led govt. and today GM is a profitable venture. This is how the election was won by Pres. Obama – pragmatic help to the private sector where needed. The all important state of Ohio as well as other mid-west states voted for Pres. Obama for his pragmatism.

    New Age politics works for the Entrepreneur, workers, and the ordinary citizens.

  5. Christie Says:

    1.Obama won by Hispanic votes.

    2. Majority oh Non-Resident Indians and Persons of Indian Origin in the US are behind Obama.

    3. India will use US against the majority people of Ceylon (Sri Lanka).

  6. Voice123 Says:

    Dham, Obama will come after Sri Lanka if our “sole and exclusive relatives” in New Delhi (some of whom have barely heard of us) want Obama to come after us and that will depend on how much “our family” in the Gangetic Plain craves western investment and recognition, how much of a threat China, Iran, Russia, third world etc are considered to America. It will also depend in the financial and electoral clout the “definitely unrelated to us” people in Southern India and their hold over our “sole relatives” up north. In the meantime our “relatives” in Islamabad wont help us to the full extent possible unless we bow down and face Mecca, since to them, countries like Albania and Palestine rouse passion and concern and us “close relatives” often draw blank looks and failed hijack attempts of our cricket team. After all, we are (indirectly) telling the rest of the world that our problem is a family affair so hands off! Shshsh, listen. Can you hear the fascist diaspora laughing like hyenas again! Why not just embrace our relatives 13th amendment and get on with it? It might be the wisest course of action at present.

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