Obama Didn't Betray the Left, the Left Betrayed the Left
By Kevin Gosztola at May 29, 2009
From Iraq to health care to the economy to torture to issues of transparency and accountability, it looks like a feeling that Obama has betrayed progressives or liberals is suddenly sweeping across the left political spectrum.
But, let's be honest here---Obama didn't betray the left. The left betrayed the left.
When liberals wed themselves to the Democratic Party and chose to ride the tidal wave of hope and change that has since crashed down and rolled back out to sea, they betrayed themselves by compromising their values and ideas for hope and change before the primary season was even close to over.
Liberal minded Americans who ordered a daily subscription to the Electability Gazette early in the election and went to work strategizing in their mind which Democrat could and could not get elected, what could and could not happen betrayed themselves. They helped the corporations, bureaucrats, career politicians, and military industrial-complex deliver the most important test administered in every election: the ruling class test.
With YouTube, blogs, email, forums, and much more at Democrats' fingertips, Democratic voters betrayed themselves by falling for a narrative created by "the marketing, propaganda, imagery, and public relations wizardry" of the Obama Campaign---a story---the story of a half-white half-black man becoming the 44th President of the United States of America (which the media never questioned or thoroughly examined).
Democrats picked Obama because he gave a speech at a 2002 rally against the Iraq War. But, the text shows that he was not against war (and still isn't). He is just against "dumb wars" and said nothing about being against smart wars like the ones he is waging in Afghanistan and Pakistan now (which rage on as he struggles to maintain the "dumb war" in Iraq).
Let me repeat --- At a time when a candidate with a record of organizing the House through an October 2002 analysis of the Bush arguments for going to war with Iraq was running for president, at a time when a candidate who gave a speech called "A Prayer for America" and had campaign swag which showed one zero in 2008 as a globe and the other a peace sign, at a time when Dennis Kucinich wasn't just trying to pass legislation that would defund the war and get us out but would also hold accountable those who had lied America into an unjust and illegal war in the first place, Democrats chose the guy who gave a speech about peace over the one who had been for at least the past decade living his life for peace.
This wouldn't be such a sticking point if it weren't for the fact that this feeling of betrayal came from a public's willingness to vote for politicians with a mindset that the rulers of this nation create in the minds of voters during each election cycle and if Kucinich wasn't working vigorously to do for health care what liberals believe Obama hasn't the guts to do--- establish a system that would remove the predatory health care industry from health care in this country.
Oh, I know the tired argument. If he had been nominated to run as the Democratic nominee, he would have been so liberal that he would have empowered the Republican nominee and the Republican nominee would have been able to handily beat Kucinich and Ralph Nader have further split the vote and spoiled the election because he gave us George W. Bush in 2000 and we would have had four years of McCain-Palin, which would have been worse than eight years of Bush and Cheney.
Sadly, this tired argument continues as many progressives and liberals refuse to "end the honeymoon."
These same individuals who suggest Obama betrayed them are the same people who months ago during the election and during his first 100 days suggested we give Obama a chance. And, isn't it great that we did?
In just 100 days, Obama has: pledged to close Guantanamo but possibly establish a system of indefinite detention for detainees in the U.S., promised to end the Iraq War but possibly keep troops there for another decade, allowed a good war in Afghanistan to merge with drone strikes in Pakistan and become the AfPak War, continue the Bush Administration's policy of state secrecy instead of transparency, dismissed audaciously accountability for Bush Administration officials who violated the rule of law by committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Backtrack to quotes from the campaign trail and it's no surprise this has happened. Liberals and progressives were willfully projecting their views and ideologies onto Barack Obama from the start.
Obama's response to betrayal on the issue of Iraq has been this, "Well, what I would say that is that they maybe weren't paying attention to what I said during the campaign." Might that be his answer to all liberals and progressives who are upset with him?
These liberals who whine and moan and groan and get livid over Obama's "betrayal" are the same ones who carefully calculated Obama's move and made excuses to those in the antiwar movement and those voting third party. These excuses were like: he's just saying it to get elected, if he said what he really should say he would be assassinated, he's not saying it but he's thinking it and he will do it when he wins, and the best one of them all, we can't let another Republican win so let's get him elected and we'll pressure him come January.
Well, it is way past January and the mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers who pledged to provide some backbone to the Democratic Party are missing in action. The grassroots social movements for change seem to be virtually non-existent and the antiwar movement is smaller than grandmother's bridge club.
The tiny movements that exist like Single Payer Action are not receiving much help at all from progressive media like The Nation or progressive groups with visibility like MoveOn.org. Few know health care activists are being arrested and prosecuted for raising their voice in Congressional hearings.
MoveOn has officially surrendered its antiwar movement credentials and is withholding the names of tens of thousands of left-leaning activists who would graciously mobilize to end the wars and establish single-payer health care.
Protests and rallies are not being attended presumably because they think Obama needs them to be patient because what he wants to do (whatever that is) is hard work. Groups like United for Peace and Justice (a massive liberal antiwar coalition) chose to not mark the Iraq war anniversary with a march because they were afraid people wouldn't pay attention since the economy was so bad.
All of this is despite the fact that Obama has been constantly compared to FDR by liberals through the citation of quotes like this one:
"You know, Mr. Randolph, I've heard everything you've said tonight, and I couldn't agree with you more. I agree with everything that you've said, including my capacity to be able to right many of these wrongs and to use my power and the bully pulpit. ... But I would ask one thing of you, Mr. Randolph, and that is go out and make me do it." -FDR to Labor Activist A. Philip Randolph
Liberals tried to make Obama stand firmly against the FISA Amendments compromise when he was on the campaign trail, when they thought they had some power to leverage. His response to the tens of thousands who mobilized on his campaign website to oppose his support for something that would legalize many of "George W. Bush's warrantless eavesdropping activities secretly and illegally ordered in 2001" was to talk them down and suggest he and the tens of thousands would have to agree to disagree.
Obama, a constitutional law professor, was allowed to further betray the Constitution. Furthermore, the campaign told those who talked to them about Obama's decision to support telecom immunity, "Come on, who really cares about that issue? Does anyone think the left is going to vote for McCain rather than Obama?"
Democratic voters were treated as political slaves because the campaign knew it didn't have to worry about people standing up for what they believed in, because they knew nobody would dare vote Nader or some other third party candidate instead of Obama. Nobody would risk having Republicans rule this country for four more years.
One may have thought that when Obama did get into office, progressives and liberals would begin to tug Obama to the left. But, organizations have chosen to go along with Obama's agenda for continuity we can believe in.
Now we read the headlines and find ourselves faced with a president who wants us to think he will use the values in our Constitution to dictate our future as he explains to us why he can't hold people accountable for violating the rule of law or abruptly end wars in the Middle East that may be in violation of the Constitution.
Photos are being withheld that "show rape," Obama is planning a super embassy for Pakistan (to support his policy of "occupations we can believe in"), and there's suggestion that troops might be in Iraq for another decade.
So, what now? Where does a "betrayed" liberal go from here?
The article that motivated me to write this: "Obama Betrays the Liberals."