In 2008, I expected a lot of nasty shit to go down after Obama took office. I can’t say, however, that I could have anticipated that it would be the so-called liberals in Congress who would deal the final death blow to the dream of socialized medicine and real healthcare reform.
To anyone who supports the bill that just passed, ask yourself why you think any of the consumer protections in it carry any weight whatsoever, when the passage of an individual mandate with no public option means that the insurance companies are now rich enough to gut every reform that cuts into their profits.
There’s a reason (besides poor mental health) that people fall for the lies and demagoguery coming from drug-addled racists, Mansonesque Mormon alcoholics, borderline illiterate Christian jihadist ding-dongs, and the astroturfed “Tea Party” movement, and that reason is the moral bankruptcy of the “liberal” political class in this country. Obama was never for the public option: he secretly promised the for-profit hospital industry that there would be none, and went on to tell the American people he supported one. He made another backroom deal with the pharmaceutical industry to oppose allowing government to negotiate drug prices, and later lied about it.
And what do liberals do? Dennis Kucinich, the most visible exponent of leftist policies in Congress, did what he always does: he made a big show of supporting real alternatives to the corporate model, and then fell in line when it turned out that his vote might actually matter. He did the same thing during the 2008 election when he claimed to oppose any candidate who would “employ war as an instrument of foreign policy,” and then gave a speech at the Democratic Convention endorsing Obama. (Salient quote at 2:40: “The insurance companies took over healthcare! Wake up, America! The pharmaceutical companies took over drug pricing! Wake up, America!”) Kucinich, that paragon of progressivism, has no real principles. Then again, to be fair, I suppose boning leggy redheads who are half your age and twice your height is a pretty solid principle.
And Kucinich’s brand of obsequious toadying is typical of the “progressive” movement in this country. Perhaps the left opposes Obama’s platform more than the right wing ever opposed Bush’s. But that’s mostly because the Bush administration went beyond the wildest dreams of right-wing authoritarians (and libertarianism, for most Republicans, is only a rhetorical tactic anyway). On the other hand, President Jesus has betrayed just about every activist group that supported him, and yet his cult lives on:
“President Obama is stifled by a dysfunctional Congress. When he was on the campaign trail, he used the word ‘we’ a lot. He cannot do this alone. He needs our help,” she said.
So many people on the left* in this country continue to labor under the illusion that deep, deep down, Obama really agrees with them. It’s the liberal version of what Taibbi calls the peasant mentality: “You know you’re a peasant when you worship the very people who are right now, this minute, conning you and taking your shit. Whatever the master does, you’re on board.” And even those who are disappointed and disillusioned will still support Obama in 2012 when the Republicans nominate another terrifying psychotic troglodyte. Why do you think the Democrats break their promises so easily?
Fuck that. It’s fundamentally immoral, good-cop/bad-cop games notwithstanding, to support a man who carries out murderous drone attacks and is considering expanding the torture chamber at Bagram. Or to support a man who wants to further enlarge the surveillance state.
As for healthcare, all real liberals, and progressives, and libertarians, and conservatives (and basically anyone with economic views to the left of medieval European feudalism) should rally around the inevitable lawsuits challenging the individual mandate. Even if it is constitutional, it’s deeply unfair and immoral, and the government should be forced to prove its constitutionality in court.
And let’s face the facts. The hypnotic voice, uplifting rhetoric, and immaculate smile do not mean that Obama is your friend. He does not, deep deep down, really believe in the same things you do. There is no deep down with Barack Obama, any more than there is with Disney World or Bono. He’s the genial figurehead for a corporate-owned state that redistributes wealth upwards at home and murders innocents abroad. The role he’s filled so brilliantly has been to distract and pacify us with his soothing platitudes while the riot police, the overflowing prisons, and the surveillance databases kill our chances at real democracy.
*To be clear, I don’t consider myself much of a leftist, as my political views are pretty solidly in the “other” column.