Why I Think Obama Is Worse Than Bush
To put it simply, with Bush, everyone knew what to expect; we all knew what he stood for and what he was going to do. There was no misunderstanding or misjudgment. Obama was different, not in policy or class orientation, not on “War on terror”, or due process or civil rights, or government accountability and secrecy, or corporate welfare, or cozy relations with corporations or deregulation, or cutting spending on social programs that help the poor, or in giving tax breaks to the wealthy and not in bailing out banks, insurance companies and others, which as a whole and as a program and policy agenda makes him just as pro-war, pro-corporate oligarchy, pro-1% and anti-working class and anti-poor as the Bush-Cheney team, if not more. In fact, in some areas, he clearly outdid his predecessor, such as in punishing whistle blowers, grabbing power for the office of the presidency, extra-judicious assassinations, warrantless wiretapping and surveillance of citizens and drone attacks.
What is different about Obama is not his class orientation or allegiance, but appearance and form – not the content or substance of his program which is just as pro-war and pro-Wall Street as Bush, but in form. In fact, there has not been any president who has even tried to deviate from such pro-imperialist and pro-war policies, for generations.
Other politicians too have run on the promise of change – decades of war and squeezing the middle and lower classes, and politicians of both parties siding with the rich and powerful, has left the voting population yearning for change. That’s why running on the premise of change was nothing new when Obama adopted it in his 2007-2008 campaign. But, what was different about him which has made some political observers and analysts on the left to rightly call him “the more effective evil”, as a retort to the idea of “the lessor of two evils”, was the believability attached to him.
Arguably, the biggest part of the reason for this was that he was the first African American president and in that respect, he was part of a truly new development – a real change. But, what was lost on so many people among liberals and African Americans and others who embraced and welcomed this historic change was that the change, though significant as a historic event in overall race relations and as big a contrast as it was to the decades prior which only African Americans could fully and truly appreciate, was nevertheless, skin deep. Not only was it not a change in course or set of policies that would end or at least lessen the economic and racial injustices, his policies have been the continuation, and one could argue even intensification, of decades of attacks on working people which have resulted in widening the gap between the rich and poor and lowering of living standards of the poor majority, which includes the vast majority of African Americans, 90% of whom voted for him.
And even the superficial change in form and style was what the ruling class of wealthy wanted and needed, a form which ended up being a boon to them. Corporations, and especially the banks, had lost credibility among the people and another white male – Republican or Democrat – would seem too much like business as usual and status quo. Not that they conspired to find a fresh and new face to hide their old policies behind, but, when that new and fresh face did emerge serendipitously, they did not hesitate to embrace and take the most advantage of. The way this helped rather than hamper them is that that new charismatic face and new style, coupled with the historic development of a black president, hid, distracted from, protected and facilitated the continuation of their corporatist program.
As helpful this new face was to the corporations and their wealthy owners, by the same token and in the same measure, his presidency has been disastrous for working class. Poverty and hunger are at all-time high, while corporate profits are as high as ever. Hunger among children has risen from about 14% in 2009 to about 20%, and the new cuts, including those that are part of the Sequestration, are only making matters worse. The country is involved in several wars, while unemployment and incarceration of black youth on minor charges continues. Government oversight and regulation of corporations is nearly non-existent and is going through further cuts, while corporate welfare and tax loopholes continue. The environment is being ignored, education is getting unaffordable, student debt and homelessness is at all-time high and inmates in Guantanamo Bay prison camp who have been on hunger strike for over two months, including those who have been cleared for release and declared innocent, are being tortured twice a day by inserting a tube into their nose which goes to their stomach in order to force feed them and keep them alive. And all these that would have engendered some level of protest under Bush, go mostly unchallenged under Obama. And as if to aid with these state of affairs and this historic deception and fraud, the right-wing continues its racially motivated attacks on Obama which helps further galvanize support for him among African American and liberals, who continue to give him a free pass, despite everything.
The starting point for Dr. King to effect change was achieving racial equality and justice which could then lead up to dealing with economic justice which he started before he was assassinated. While there hasn’t been any improvement in racial affairs since the gains of the Civil Rights movement, there has been setback in the economic realm. But, how would another African American again start with the issue of racial injustice which still remains in need of change and attack the pressing issue of economic injustice which goes hand in hand with the former, when the first black president is in the White House? Not easy.