Can Barack Obama be a black Clinton and an American Mandela
simultaneously? Can he be an agent of change and a corporate tool at the same
Physicists have discovered that we all live in many
alternative universes simultaneously. A universe in eternal fluctuation between
wave and particle contains infinite possibilities. We are all kaleidoscopes of
the many personalities living within us -- or, as the Greek philosopher put it
in a more general context, you never step in the same river twice. So, like the
rest of us, Obama too can have many interpretations.
There can be no doubt, even this early, that Obama will
govern like Clinton, with the same foreign policy and economic team that
enforce the ruling elite consensus from the �left� side of America�s permanent
binary government -- the �humanitarian� interventionists, the �velvet glove�
wing (alternating with the �iron fist� Republican wing). Anyone who expected
�change we can believe in� to extend beyond the elite consensus of what is
�politically possible� in the Age of Terror was letting their hope run away
with them. It�s nice to live in a dream world, but this isn�t it.
Obama�s Clintonesque nature has been apparent from the
beginning, from his contributions from Wall Street, to his �centrist� betrayals
of core progressive principles -- for example, his FISA vote, where he lost
many progressives who might have supported him otherwise. It is very likely
that Obama, at some probably early point in his effort to �govern from the
center,� will face opposition from a united progressive left. For the
reality-based community, corporations still rule. Let there be no doubt about
It is, in fact, disturbing how little change we are seeing
from the prospective Obama administration. His first appointments were Clinton
veterans: Rahm Emmanuel as chief of staff, and Clinton chief of staff John
Podesta to lead the Obama transition team. This brings the Israel lobby and
establishment liberals on board. Clinton�s first secretary of state, Warren
Christopher, will oversee the Obama transition at the State Department;
Clinton�s second secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, is an Obama adviser.
The military industrial complex will continue to guide the nation�s foreign
policy. We won�t be leaving Afghanistan anytime soon.
It is also increasingly likely that, like the Clinton
administration, an Obama Justice Department will quietly retire investigations
of illegal activity by yet another criminal Bush administration. There may be
congressional hearings, like there were into Iran-Contra, the Bank of Credit
and Commerce International, and the sale of WMD to Saddam Hussein -- all of
which would have implicated George H. W. Bush had they been followed to their
logical end -- but just like those hearings, there will be no real
accountability for the wrongdoers. There�s a reason Bill Clinton and Bush 41
are the best of friends.
The psyops activity setting up the exoneration of George W.
Bush and company has already started. There are articles this week in both the
Washington Post and The New York Times, talking about the need to move on and
not waste time prosecuting political decisions, in the Post article; and
exploring the history of executive privilege as claimed by former presidents in
the past, and how �unclear� the precedents are for requiring testimony from an
ex-president, in the Times. The power elite takes care of its own.
But can Obama also be an �American Mandela,� as I have
suggested before is his potential?
Among the many universes in which we live is the archetypal,
or mythic universe. In that universe, real human beings come to represent
ideals that have universal meaning. In the archetypal universe, Obama is a
�hero� figure, representing �hope� and �change.� The major significance of
Obama�s election is at this symbolic level. Obama is the �hero� who broke
through the American color barrier, a central component in the national
character, enshrined in our Constitution. Having slayed both the vast righ
twing and Clinton dragons, he is a genuine hero. All the babies being named
Barack are a testament to Obama as a heroic symbol. Obama�s election resonates
most strongly at our subconscious levels, where archetypes live.
But even in the �real� world, Obama�s election has special
qualities, that signal the potential for an enormous shift at conscious levels,
For one thing, his description as �The One,� the term in the
Matrix trilogy for the messianic hero, comes at least partly from Obama�s own
otherworldly nature. One of his foreign policy advisers described his
impressions of Obama to a reporter from the New Yorker, of his �degree of
self-reflection, self-awareness, and psychological wholeness . . . Having
worked for two presidents and with many presidential candidates during the last
30 years, I have not seen one as psychologically well balanced, and as good
about not injecting his ego into a problem.� The biggest change will be not
having a president who�s a psychopath, but Obama is a unique political figure.
A second possibility for shifting the national dynamic is
the unprecedented �army of volunteers� waiting for instructions from a
President Obama. The choices he asks that army to support by pressuring
Congress to act can move the nation in directions even out of control of the
power elite. Although that is unlikely to happen, it is possible that large
progressive steps can be taken in health care and education, among other
traditional Democratic interests. America is ready for a new New Deal.
Historian Michael Lind published an article at Salon
recently, �Obama and the Fourth Republic.� Lind is among those historians who
divide American history into three 72-year �republics,� which share common
characteristics. Obama would be the first president of the Fourth Republic.
These republican ages begin with a strong president, and a
three-decade period of federalizing the government under the principles of
Alexander Hamilton: a strong central government, central banking, infrastructure
spending, and enlarging the bureaucracy. In the latter half of these republican
ages, Jeffersonian principles of states rights and individualism, and a weak
central government return to prominence. The ages all come to a close with a
It�s remarkable how closely the actual history tracks to
this model. The first presidents of the republics were Washington, Lincoln, and
FDR -- three of our greatest presidents, whose administrations all consolidated
power in an activist federal government. The final, failed presidents were
Buchanan, Hoover and our own George W. Bush, considered by many historians
already to be the worst president in American history. Obama has nowhere to go
But perhaps the most important reason Obama could become an
American Mandela is that, whatever happens, enormous change is already upon us,
and he is going to be forced to react. The world economy is collapsing; it
could be worse than the Great Depression, serious people say. Climate change is
happening faster than anyone expected. Ecosystems are altering dramatically. An
overabundant humanity is running out of food, water and oil -- the foundation
stone of the postindustrial economy.
If Obama can keep his cool through all that, and prevent the
nation from either sliding deeper into fascism or crumbling into violent
anarchy along the way, he�ll deserve some credit, at least.
Let�s just hope it�s not really the end of history.
Hasty lives on a farm in West Virginia, where he wrote a column for seven years
for the Hampshire Review, the state�s oldest newspaper. In 2000, it was named
best column by the West Virginia Press Association. His writing has appeared in
the Charleston Gazette, Online Journal, Common Dreams, Buzzflash, Tikkun and
many other websites. He publishes the blog, Radical Pantheist.
He plays guitar and harmonica with the folk/gospel trio, the Time Travelers.
Email:. radicalpantheist(at)gmail (dot) com.