Throughout his campaign, President Obama has repeatedly reminded us of his biggest accomplishment: the assassination of Osama Bin Laden. His other accomplishments: drone attacks and wars in several countries, introducing a “kill list” to the office of the presidency, renewal of Patriot Act and signing of National Defense Authorization Act that authorizes the military to detain anyone indefinitely and without charge, aiding dictators in Bahrain and Yemen in cracking down on their pro-democracy movements, jailing of Private Bradley Manning, mostly in solitary confinement with mistreatment that according to human rights advocates amounts to torture and charging him of espionage that could result in his execution.
The Administration is willing to sacrifice the life of an innocent young man for blowing the whistle on US atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan. Apparently, embarrassing US military is a far bigger crime than bankers ruining the economy with their greed. But, then again, isn’t the Administration sacrificing innocent lives every day with their drone attacks? Shockingly, such attacks that have mostly killed innocent people are not considered shameful anymore, but on the contrary, something to be proud of.
But, while the assassination of Bin Laden is touted as one of Obama’s biggest accomplishments, there are other assassinations that are never talked about, assassinations that though he hasn’t been involved with, he could have done something about; in fact, he could have done much to stop or eliminate but chose not to. Colombia, which receives US aid and enjoys close ties with the US, has the highest rate of assassinations of workers and unionists who try to organize. As did his predecessor, despite the continued assassination of unionists and union leaders and members of the Afro-Colombians and other indigenous people, in April of last year, Obama went against the demands and wishes of the unions and signed the so-called “action plan”, as part of a NAFTA-style Free Trade Agreement with Colombia,
In the past, there had been an effort by American unions to make US-Colombia trade contingent upon reducing (not even eliminating) the number of such assassinations. Those demands were ignored by President Bush. It was thought and hoped that Obama would implement them in the so-called Free Trade Agreement with Colombia. Those hopes, like many others, turned out to be unfounded. As did his predecessor, Obama, too, ignored those demands. Of course, it must be noted that the main reason American unions were against this trade agreement is because it would send more American union jobs overseas further weakening unions, but for Obama, neither that, nor the assassinations of union leaders were ever a concern.
For Democrats who ask people to give Obama another term, the argument for his reelection has boiled down to two things: how tough he is with those considered enemies, who based on the logic of NDAA and Patriot Act, would have to include domestic dissidents and whistle blowers, and how a bigger evil his rival, Mitt Romney is. If the idea of elections once was to choose the one who you thought (right or wrong) would best represent your interests, now, besides who will kill more, is who is the lesser of two evils.
But, make no mistake: if we don’t see any legacy to behold and celebrate, it’s because we’re not the beneficiaries of the presidency or any other part of the government, for that matter. The real beneficiaries have much to celebrate. The 1% has done just fine. For them, the elections still mean what they should – choosing your best representative. As Einstein would say, it’s all relative.