Now Repeat After Me...We're Electing a President, Not a Messiah
By Bob Simpson at Jul 06, 2008
So Barack Obama is tacking to starboard. That's steering to the right for you landlubbers. But as a politician who lives next to those inland seas we call the Great Lakes, he must have seen sailors do this hundreds of times. He's already tacked to the port or the left side. Now it's time to tack to the right or the starboard side. Paradoxically, that's how you sail in a "straight" line and end up arriving at your destination.
Let's remember that Barack Obama is a South Side Chicago politician. Veering to the right after starting out on the left is a time honored Windy City tradition.
Further up Chicago's lakefront there is Alderman Helen Shiller who represents the Uptown neighborhood. Uptown was once home to the Young Patriots, a group of impoverished Appalachian whites who were aligned with the Black Panther Party. Helen Shiller, a white woman, started out as a fire breathing socialist very much influenced by Panther ideology. Today she is a tame ally of Mayor Richard M. Daley. Chicago Congressman Bobby Rush who really was a Black Panther, is now an ordained minister and a shill for the big ATT telcom.
Governor Rod Blagojevich is from Chicago. He once sounded like the second coming of William Jennings Bryan, a reformer who would never allow the good citizens of Illinois to be crucified on a cross of corporate gold. Now he's mired in the same big bucks corruption that has traditionally made our state penal system a second home for our state's chief executives.
Even former Weatherbomber Bill Ayres is a respected professor at the University of Illinois and an ally of Mayor Richard M. Daley's corporate run "school reform" efforts.
It happens that way in this town. Big Money can whip up a Force 10 political gale pretty damned quick. If you don't want to sink faster than the ill-fated Edmund Fitzgerald, you make your accommodations to the powers that be.
In Barack Obama's case, his intended destination is the White House. He's already tacked to the populist left. With that completed, its time to tack to the right and show Corporate America that he understands their formidable power. Of course if Barack Obama were running for Messiah, he'd simply walk on water and skip all of this complicated port and starboard, left-right rigarmarole.
During the primaries, it was easy to spot the Obama supporter who saw him as tne New Messiah. They had a thousand yard stare when they saw him on TV or at his many rallies. They drew attention to themselves by clapping long after everyone else had stopped. Their friends could be heard making cruel "guess whose been drinking the Kool-aid jokes." Their thousand yard stare disappeared when they encountered a Clinton supporter, replaced by a fierce looking feral intensity and an upper lip curled into a sneer.
These are the kind of people whom the editors of The Onion love. They are an easy target for all of our jaded cynicism, but don't dismiss them. They are the walking wounded from 8 years of intense political pain inflicted by George W. Bush and his minions. After that ordeal, who wouldn't want a Messiah to relieve their suffering and guide them to the New Eden?
But a Messiah is not what they or this country needs. There is no New Eden and Messiahs have a way of coming to a bad end. The Romans dealt with them by crucifixion. During the 1960's FBI director J. Edgar Hoover spent serious amounts of taxpayer's money trying prevent the emergence of a "Black Messiah". Many people suspect that the deaths of talented leaders like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King or Fred Hampton were the result of such efforts. The irony was that none of them had pretensions of being anybody's Messiah. They were smarter than that. They were leaders and organizers, not Messiahs.
One of our greatest labor leaders was the socialist Eugene Victor Debs. Debs had no illusions about Messiahs.
"If you are looking for a Moses to lead you out of the capitalist wilderness, you will stay right where you are. I would not lead you into this promised land if I could because if I could lead you in, someone else could lead you out."
We're not sheep and we don't need a sheep dog to herd us to a non-existent New Eden, Promised Land or wherever. So if you think you really..really... need a Messiah, trust me you don't. Because if you lose your Messiah, you're lost without a plan, a map or a destination.
So if a Messiah is not the answer, what about a President? That's even more complicated. You see, despite our pretensions of being a Republic, we're really a Constitutional Monarchy. It's just that we elect our monarch every four years. We don't have a Coronation, we have an Inauguration. But it's really the same thing.
If our President were like the King of Sweden whose main job is handing out Nobel Prizes, we would be better off. Even if our President were like the Queen of England, an overpriced national decoration, we'd still be better off, just with a more depleted treasury.
But no, our Presidency is an Imperial Presidency, an office straight out of Louis the XIV of France and the Divine Right of Kings. Our Founders did not want an Imperial Presidency, especially our first President, George Washington. But that is what we have now. Our President even swears the Oath of Office on a Bible to illustrate that point. Louis XIV was notorious for his corrupted court of wealthy nobles and his endless wars. We now have the K Street Cabal of corporate lobbyists and endless wars in places most Americans couldn't find with GoogleMaps.
The Presidency is supposed to be a sacred trust of the American people, designed to to be the highest expression of our democratic values. Yeah and I have a rather famous bridge to sell you too. The Imperial Presidency is about keeping the peace among our corporate robber barons and insuring that we lowly peasants stay properly dazed and confused by sound bites, photo ops and gaudy political spectacles. Louis the XIV would gladly have traded the spectacular Palace of Versailles, Hall of Mirrors and all, for the spectacle of live television.
Although technically only Congress has the power to declare war, nobody pays much attention to that, especially our Congress. The US Imperial Presidency is a loaded gun handed to a person who has spent a significant portion of their life cutting cynical deals and plotting to seize a power that the old kings, queens, emperors and empresses only had in fairy tales. Did I say a loaded gun? More accurately, a fully loaded nuclear arsenal.
No human being can be trusted with that kind of economic and military power...not even a highly educated world traveling former community organizer from Chicago like Barack Obama. But we're really up the creek on this one because while Barack Obama is still in the process of being corrupted by power, John McCain is already 99.44% pure corruption, like Ivory Soap only in reverse.
So vote for Barack Obama and then let's start dismantling the power of the Imperial Presidency. As a people we've been asleep in front of our wide screen TV's for too long. We've allowed the Imperial Presidency and the corporate courtiers that surround it to amass a power that even we the American people shouldn't have. It's a big planet out there and we have to share responsibility for it with the vast majority of people who aren't Americans.
Sorry Barack, I know you've wanted this job for a long time. As for your corporate "benefactors", you know too well who they are and what they are about. While you were out organizing on the streets of Chicago, they were busy shoveling money at City Hall to keep your Chicago neighbors under siege from poverty, unemployment, poor health, crime, and pollution. They weren't your friends then and they aren't your friends now.
So go ahead and keep the title of President, just like His Majesty Carl XVI Gustaf keeps his title in the Kingdom of Sweden. But Barack, it's time to put the Imperial Presidency and its gang of corporate thieves in the museum next to the ermine robes and powdered wigs of yore. It's going to be big job, we really don't know how to do it yet and it's definitely going to take some time.
We could sure use your help.