Obama, blot endnu en præsident?

Ja, måske. Den amerikanske venstrefløj har ikke megen fidus til ham, og udnævnelsen af en højredemokrat med israelsk statborgerskab som stabschef lover ikke umiddelbart godt for fremtiden.

Men der er en forskel, nemlig i den retorik, Obama har anvendt for at nå sit mål (aldrig har en amerikansk præsidentkandidat været så radikal og påvirket af borgerretsbevægelsen i sin retorik, indholdet eller mangel på samme ufortalt) og i den græsrodsbevægelse, der både har skaffet Obama sejren og fået millioner af mennesker over hele USA til at føle, at de selv har en aktie i den.

Tithi Battacharya gæsteblogger på Lenin’s Tomb, og gør det godt:

This is where the Obama electoral campaign will be remembered for its uniqueness. In an economy devastated by free market capitalism, in a society torn apart by racism, at a time when the combined cost of war in Iraq and Afghanistan has been over $3 trillion grassroot organizers campaigned tirelessly to elect a black, anti-war man who spoke openly about corporate greed. The campaigners gave the election campaign the flavour of a grassroots social movement.

This was done in several ways. As early as October 6 the much discussed Acorn claimed to have registered 1.3 million new voters. Although the NY Times argued that these numbers were vastly exaggerated the meticulous task of organizing these registration drives on a national scale, in door-to-door campaigns and campus mobilizations can hardly be denied. This process could not but have a historical resonance with people of colour in general and the African American community in particular where memories of the right to vote are still laced with violence. The usual process of voting was thus transformed in this election from the very start into a much more politicized practice.

Obama himself did not fail to see this transformation. His speeches repeatedly alluded to past social movements and more importantly to the power of social movements. “Words on a parchment” he told us in his speech on race in Philadelphia “would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage”. What would be needed instead were actual people who “through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk” narrowed the gap between ideals and reality. At a large anti-war rally in Chicago in 2002 in a sharp invocation of classical left-wing rhetoric he urged us to stop “the arms merchants in our own country” from “feeding the countless wars that rage across the globe”. More explicitly, dubbing the elections merely as an agitational platform in faux-Leninist fashion he reminded us that the campaign was merely “the occasion, the vehicle, of [our] hopes, and [our] dreams”. Over and over during the course of the campaign words such as community, grassroots and organizing were used in a fashion that matched the fervour and the demographic of the anti-war and anti-globalization movements of the recent past. Whole sections of people roused by this call plunged into the campaign as though it were a social movement and not merely an electoral campaign. But the most important thing to understand is that their doing so actually made it such.

In my small mid-western University town the Obama campaign included old social and labour activists, young students who had never been at a demonstration before and whole sections of people, particularly women and minorities who have been actively disenfranchised not just from the electoral process in the past but from society itself. It is also significant to remember in this context that in Indiana for instance although Obama secured a historic victory for Democrats, the first time in 44 years, none of the other local Democratic candidates fared well. Indeed only 22.2% of the votes polled in my county were straight Democratic votes. A vote for Obama was thus only nominally a vote for the democratic party. It was largely I would argue a vote for a radical new direction that the voter felt he represented. The Democratic Party label became almost incidental, Obama the man and his historic significance spilled over the ordinariness of a democratic party ticket and that is the man the ordinary woman/man voted for. There was an African-American woman at our hotel in Chicago that night who had come to the rally with her 84 year old father. My partner’s friend, an African American historian told us that he was “bawling like a baby” when Obama gave his speech at Grant Park. We will always remember those truly historic images of Jesse Jackson and even Oprah Winfrey crying that cold night at Grant Park. They all worked for the “movement” and not for the election of a Democratic Party candidate. So when victory was declared on November 4 th most of them were shocked to see Democratic party bureaucrats take over the floor of the campaign office and make speeches. One of my friends there told me “I was shocked to see these people. All I wanted to do was dance”. . We had all apparently forgotten that this was an electoral campaign to elect the head of the leading imperialist nation.

So as President Obama surrounds himself with big-business backers such as Robert Rubin and Paul Volcker, shapes his foreign policy in consultation with former secretaries of state and ex-CIA officials what is to become of the all the people who joined the “movement”?

There is a short answer to that question, given by a young black woman in Harlem. When asked by CNN about Obama’s victory, laughing and crying she said that she had helped achieve it and she was going to stay active to make him accountable. I cannot emphasize how right she is.

Rune Engelbreth er også lidt inde på det. Men hvor kom vi fra: Folketaleren og aktivisten Obama har givet en masse mennesker håb.

Det er meget muligt, at politikeren Obama nu er nødt til at sætte en regering op, der kan føre en politik, som han kan få igennem Senat og Hus, og som ikke kan undgå at skuffe mange af de håb.

Men, her er en del af humlen: Manden har selv sagt, at kampagnen kun er “the occasion, the vehicle, of [our] hopes, and [our] dreams“.

Ret beset er det vel ikke for meget at håbe på, at en del af den bevægelse, han selv har været med til at skabe, rent faktisk tager ham på ordet og opretholder presset. Der er al mulig grund til at være skeptisk og forbeholden over for manden Obama og hans politik, men der er også al mulig grund til at håbe, at den bevægelse, der trods alt ligger i symbolet Obama og måden, han blev præsident på, kan holde ved.

Link: Why I went to Grant Park on November 4th

Sarah Palin – professionel løgnhals

Rolling Stone har samlet en liste af 11 myter om Sarah Palin, suppleret med de hårde, verificerede fakta.

Det er lidt af en øjenåbner, især hvis man stadig har en eller anden forestilling om, at McCain er en gentleman, hvis ord man på nogen måde kan regne med:

1. THE MYTH: “She took the luxury jet that was acquired by her predecessor and sold it on eBay. And made a profit!” — John McCain, at a campaign stop in WisconsinTHE FACTS: No one bought the jet online. It was eventually sold through an aircraft broker — at a loss to taxpayers of nearly $600,000.

2. THE MYTH: “I told the Congress ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ on that Bridge to Nowhere.” — Sarah Palin, convention speech

THE FACTS: Supported the infamous pork project in her 2006 run for governor, even after Congress had killed the bridge; derided its opponents as “spinmeisters.” Reversed her stance a year later — but kept the money, doling out the $223 million in federal funds to other pork projects throughout the state.

3. THE MYTH: “We … championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress.” — Sarah Palin, convention speech

THE FACTS: As mayor, employed a lobbyist who also worked for Jack Abramoff to secure $27 million in pork spending for Wasilla — more than $4,000 per resident. In her two years as governor, requested $453 million in earmarks. Alaska ranks first in the nation for pork, raking in seven times the national average.

Take note, punditokrater og andre!

Link: The Truth About Sarah Palin (via Boing Boing).

Kvinder i Alaska siger nej til Sarah Palin

Jeg har modtaget nedenstående i en mail fra en bekendt i USA:

Alaska Women Reject Palin

Alaska Women Reject Palin rally was to be held outside on the lawn in front of the Loussac Library in midtown Anchorage. Home made signs were encouraged, and the idea was to make a statement that Sarah Palin does not speak for all Alaska women, or men. I had no idea what to expect.

The rally was organized by a small group of women, talking over coffee. It made me wonder what other things have started with small groups of women talking over coffee. It’s probably an impressive list. These women hatched the plan, printed up flyers, posted them around town, and sent notices to local media outlets. One of those media outlets was KBYR radio, home of Eddie Burke, a long-time uber-conservative Anchorage talk show host. Turns out that Eddie Burke not only announced the rally, but called the people who planned to attend the rally “a bunch of socialist baby-killing maggots,” and read the home phone numbers of the organizers aloud over the air, urging listeners to call and tell them what they thought. The women, of course, received some nasty, harassing and threatening messages.

I felt a bit apprehensive. I’d been disappointed before by the turnout at other rallies. Basically, in Anchorage, if you can get 25 people to show up at an event, it’s a success. So, I thought to myself, if we can actually get 100 people there that aren’t sent by Eddie Burke, we’ll be doing good. A real statement will have been made. I confess, I still had a mental image of 15 demonstrators surrounded by hundreds of menacing “socialist baby-killing maggot” haters.

It’s a good thing I wasn’t tailgating when I saw the crowd in front of the library or I would have ended up in somebody’s trunk. When I got there, about 20 minutes early, the line of sign wavers stretched the full length of the library grounds, along the edge of the road, 6 or 7 people deep! I could hardly find a place to park. I nabbed one of the last spots in the library lot, and as I got out of the car and started walking, people seemed to join in from every direction, carrying signs.

Never, have I seen anything like it in my 17 and a half years living in Anchorage. The organizers had someone walk the rally with a counter, and they clicked off well over 1400 people (not including the 90 counter-demonstrators). This was the biggest political rally ever, in the history of the state. I was
absolutely stunned. The second most amazing thing is how many people honked and gave the thumbs up as they drove by. And even those that didn’t honk looked wide-eyed and awe-struck at the huge crowd that was growing by the minute. This just doesn’t happen here.

Then, the infamous Eddie Burke showed up. He tried to talk to the media, and was instantly surrounded by a group of 20 people who started shouting O-BA-MA so loud he couldn’t be heard. Then passing cars started honking in a rhythmic pattern of 3, like the Obama chant, while the crowd cheered, hooted and waved their signs high.

So, if you’ve been doing the math Yes. The Alaska Women Reject Palin rally was significantly bigger than Palin’s rally that got all the national media coverage! So take heart, sit back, and enjoy the photo gallery. Feel free to spread the pictures around to anyone who needs to know that Sarah Palin most definitely does not speak for all Alaskans. The citizens of Alaska, who know her best, have things to say.

Hvor er racismen?

Læserbrev sakset fra Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

How racism works

What if John McCain were a former president of the Harvard Law Review?
What if Barack Obama finished fifth from the bottom of his graduating class?

What if McCain were still married to the first woman he said “I do” to? What if Obama were the candidate who left his first wife after she no longer measured up to his standards?

What if Michelle Obama were a wife who not only became addicted to pain killers, but acquired them illegally through her charitable organization?
What if Cindy McCain graduated from Harvard?

What if Obama were a member of the “Keating 5“?
What if McCain was a charismatic, eloquent speaker?

If these questions reflected reality, do you really believe the election
numbers would be as close as they are?

Obama, McCain … er der forskel?

I Michigan er man ved det igen – ved at finde på krumspring og krummelurer, der kan forhindre sorte i at stemme. I Florida vil man afvise 85.000 nye vælgerregistreringer, skriver Greg Palast. Jeg gætter på, det er et mønster, vi vil se gentage sig i de nærmeste måneder.

Men gør det egentlig en forskel, når det kommer til stykket? Hvor stor en forskel kommer til til at gøre for den gennemsnitlige Joe American, hvem der sidder i det Ovale Kontor?

På den amerikanske venstrefløj kan man finde mange forskellige bud:

  • Obama har solgt så meget ud, at det faktisk kan være lige meget: “How can I or any progressive vote for a presidential candidate who goes from opposing a war to saying he not only supports the idea of keeping troops in Iraq for another five years?”
  • Dette er et aldeles afgørende valg, som vi aldrig kommer til at se magen til i vore liv: “The cascading effects of right-wing control over most of the federal government have been cumulative and devastating. After the election in early November, it’ll be President McCain or President Obama. We’ll never pass this way again.”
  • Obama og McCain er i virkeligheden begge marionetter for det samme militær-industrielle kompleks drevet af økonomiske hensyn mere end af almindelige amerikaneres ve og vel, som John Pilger skriver:
    “John McCain may well be a media cartoon figure – the fake “war hero” now joined with a Shakespeare-banning, gun-loving, religious fanatic – yet his true significance is that he and Obama share essentially the same dangerous prescriptions.”
  • Jonathan Freedland skriver i The Guardian, at hvis USA nu vrager Obama og håbet om forandring efter otte år med Bush, vil verden vende sig væk fra USA i væmmelse, og den “anti-amerikanisme”, vi kender i dag, vil kun være en bleg skygge af, hvad vi vil få at se. Republikanerne kan nok vinde USA, men de vil miste verdens opbakning i en tid, hvor USA i forvejen taber terræn til Rusland, Indien, Kina og Brasilien.

Hvis folk på den amerikanske venstrefløj er desillusionerede over Obama, er det ikke svært at forstå. Richard Stallman udtrykker det meget godt, i en kommentar til republikanernes valgsvindel:

I don’t hold any enthusiasm for Obama; at best he will be like Clinton but even less liberal. However, systematic destruction of democracy is dangerous even if there is no good candidate is likely to win this year.

And you can be sure that if Obama loses because of this disenfranchement, Democrat activists will blame it on the Green candidate.

Men hvor godt man end kan forstå denne desillusion, er der en forskel. Det er rigtigt, at Obamas snak om “change” til en vis grad er fluff og candy floss – som om, Obamas retorik reducerer “change” til et indholdsløst mantra og “feel good”-ord, som man kan lægge i, hvad man vil.

Men samtidig er Obama en repræsentant for meget af det, der er godt i USA, og han er især indbegrebet af en moderne, kosmopolitisk amerikaner. Hvilket vil sige: Han er ikke nogen stupid redneck, og han forsøger heller ikke at kapre stemmer ved at lade, som om han er en stupid redneck – han appellerer slet ikke til det segment.

Obama er med andre ord en intelligent og veluddannet mand, der ikke skammer sig over at være intelligent og veluddannet – og det har, med forlov, været en sjældenhed i omegnen af Det Hvide Hus i en alt for lang årrække.

Mona Eltahawy, som med sin ægyptiske baggrund selv er et skoleeksempel på en kosmopolitisk “orientalsk” amerikaner, håber således på at slippe af med den evindelige, selvcentrerede amerikanske stupiditet, der især rammer folk fra fjerne og eksotiske lande:

I remember a dinner-table conversation in Mumbai a couple of weeks ago when Sanjay — an architect and businessman — turned to me quite earnestly to proclaim, “Americans are inherently stupid.”

“How do you live with them?” he asked.

There we were — an Indian and an Egyptian — discussing America over dinner at the Royal Yacht Club, built by British colonialists for the enjoyment of white privilege and off limits to us brown people back when they ruled India.

Then Manique, a Sri Lankan woman, joined the conversation to tell us that during a visit to the United States a few years ago, someone actually asked her if they had bread in Sri Lanka. I asked her, half-jokingly, if it was the same American who asked my dad at an Athens hotel over dinner years ago whether we had fruit in Egypt.

More than just shocked amusement, these incidents show why all of us would vote for Barack Obama if we could. He would never ask us if we had bread or fruit in our countries. Why, Obama is much like us. He has traveled. He has lived abroad. And he has family in several countries. He has a different script for what an American is. He is an American who is comfortable as a citizen of the world – with or without his lapel pin.

Og som sådan ville en præsident Obama gøre en kolossal forskel for resten af verden. (Obamas fingre ville også være bedre placeret ved den termonukleære knap end Sarah Palinsjust sayin’).

Men måske det bedste i virkeligheden ville være en gentagelse af miseren fra 2000: Obama har vundet valget – på en hårsbredde. Men så begynder rapporterne at rulle ind om valgsvindel i Florida,  Michigan og andre svingstater, og efter en omtælling i tre counties i Florida og Michigan ender McCain med at vinde med 327 stemmers overvægt. Det er også klart, at optællingen af de 327 stemmer er forfusket, og at vi i alle tilfælde kun er så langt nede, fordi republikanerne har frataget på den grimme side af 500.000 sorte deres stemmeret.

Obama har vundet valget, men det er McCain der bliver præsident. Amerika var klar til forandring, verden var klar til forandring, men valget er stjålet. Igen. Og en kolossal vrede løfter sig, gør det umuligt for McCain at komme nogen som helst steder med kongressen de næste, og efter i fire år at have trådt vande, drevet USAs fattige længere ned og givet flere skattelettelser til de rige, skylles Obama 2012 ind i det Hvide Hus på en bølge af vrede, der denne gang har tvunget ham til at tale med en klart venstreorienteret, antiimperialistisk retorik.

Eller måske ikke. Og ja, måske det vitterlig ikke er en stjålen McCain-sejr vi skal håbe på. Men … hvem ved? Det er ikke altid det mest oplagte, der er det rigtige.