Obama, the Tea Party, and the Ugly American Liberal Intellectual
The “Real Enemy”
My recent completion (with co-author Anthony DiMaggio) of a critical study of the Tea Party phenomenon and the epic mythology surrounding it in the dominant corporate-crafted media-politics culture that hatched that phenomenon sometimes affords me an interesting opportunity to gauge the narrow imagination of the ugly American liberal intellectual. “Oh,” that intellectual says, reflecting on my two last previous books – critical Left studies of the Barack Obama phenomenon and presidency and the massive media-politics mythology surrounding Obama – “good for you. Nice to see you change your colors and go after the real enemy – the right wing. You should do a talk and book- signing here on my campus. I’ll tell my students to go and get extra-credit for writing up your talk.” There were no such invitations for either of those “Obama books.”3
I could certainly use the book event and I like to talk to students but the liberal intellectual (an academic in this case) has it wrong about me and my new (co-authored) book. There’s no change of world view at all involved in my penning of a volume about/against the Republican Tea Party. I have a long history of critically analyzing and resisting the American right before and since the rise of “the Tea Party.” I’ve never pulled my punches on the rightmost sections of the narrow American political spectrum. My first bookEmpire and Inequality: America and the World Since 9/11 (2004) was loaded with heavily annotated diatribes against George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Karl Rove, FOX News, Grover Norquist and the rest of the right-Republican political and noise machine. Just because I am nauseated by the nothingness of liberals and Democrats doesn’t mean I ever forget or dismiss the threat posed by the pseudo- conservative right.
A Democratic Party Mesmerized by Centrist Precepts
More importantly and to the point of this essay, there’s no real intellectual or political discontinuity in moving my book-length critical focus from the Obama phenomenon to the Tea Party phenomenon. A newly re-empowered right wing is what you get when no vibrant progressive left exists to channel legitimate popular anger at the persistent making of American policy in accord with the unelected and interrelated dictatorships of money and empire that control Washington (regardless of which of the two reigning business parties holds nominal power there). Obama has been both reflection and agent of the dangerous shut-down of progressive forces – dangerous because popular resentment abhors a progressive vacuum and will flow into dodgy authoritarian and regressive directions without real and serious alternatives and avenues of expression on the left.
Why did the Republican Party and its right wing Tea Party front triumph so handily in the November elections of 2010? Along with the terrible economy and the significant migration of corporate political money to the right last year, a significant part of the explanation lay in Obama and the Democrats’ demoralization and demobilization of the Democrats’ base over the first two years of Obama’s presidency. Progressive author and blogger Les Leopold put it well on the left-liberal Web site Huffington Post:
‘It’s open season on Obama, whom so many hoped would lead us out of the neoliberal wilderness. He was once a community organizer and ought to know how working people have suffered through a generation of tax breaks for the rich, Wall Street deregulation and unfair competition. When the economy crashed, he was in perfect position to limit the unjustified pay levels on Wall Street…Instead we got a multi-trillion dollar bailout for Wall Street, no health care reform, no serious financial reforms whatsoever, record unemployment, and political gridlock that will be with us for years to come.’4
Liberals and progressives had little basis for thinking that Obama would guide them out of the wilderness.5 As I demonstrated in great detail in late 2007 and early 2008 (and as I first started showing in late July of 2004), U.S. senator and presidential candidate Obama was what left political commentator Lance Selfa called “more of a pro-business, ‘centrist’ politician than the radical conjured up in the fantasies of the likes of Glenn Beck.”8 Nevertheless, by the fall of 2010, a large number of Democrats and independent swing voters surely agreed with Leopold that “Obama hasn’t produced the reforms he promised, while embracing policies like Bush’s ‘war on terror,’ and the Afghanistan war that they abhor.”9 For a large number of core Democratic supporters, mainstream Democratic liberalism had failed to live up to its idealistic campaign rhetoric.10 Right-wing and “mainstream” media contributed mightily to the perception of disappointment, but Obama and the Democrats would have been well advised to look at themselves to understand the disgruntlement of the Democratic “base.” For they have acted all too perfectly in accord with former Richard Nixon strategist Kevin Phillips’s onetime description of the Democratic Party as “history’s second most enthusiastic capitalist party.”11 As Selfa explained in October 2010:
‘The Democrats had large majorities in both houses of Congress, including, for a period of time, a 60-vote majority in the Senate. They had the potential to reset mainstream politics for a generation. Yet, with the Obama administration in the lead, they mainly assumed the role as savior of the corporate system that was teetering on the edge of the economic abyss in late 2008 and early 2009.
Since then, the Obama administration has bent over backwards to placate business and its right-wing critics while ladling out thin gruel to its most fervent supporters…The stimulus plan was too small to lift the economy out of its deep hole. And the administration trimmed it further in a largely futile attempt to win “bipartisan” support…Unemployment continued to rise under Obama, feeding the public perception that “government,” and “government spending,” was ineffectual. If the crisis of 2008 had discredited neoliberal nostrums, the continued crisis of 2009 and 2010 appeared to discredit liberal, “big government” solutions. …Today, the administration proclaims the necessity of “deficit reduction,” “entitlement reform” (aka, cutting Medicare and Social Security), and austerity. This largely reflects the administration’s attempt to carry out big business’s agenda.’12
One did not have to be a radical to be bothered by Obama’s centrist, business-friendly betrayal of the Democratic Party’s working-class and poor constituencies. New York Times columnist Bob Herbert—a long-standing Obama supporter—expressed his disgust with the Democrats after Scott Brown’s Tea Party–assisted victory in an op-ed titled “They [the Democrats] Still Don’t Get It.” “The door is being slammed on the American dream and the politicians, including the president and his Democratic allies on Capitol Hill,” Herbert wrote, “seem not just helpless to deal with the crisis, but completely out of touch with the hardships that have fallen on so many.” Herbert wondered if “there is anything” that could ever again “wake [the Democrats] up to their obligation to extend a powerful hand to ordinary Americans and help them take the government...back from the big banks, the giant corporations and the myriad other predatory interests that put the value of a dollar high above the value of human beings.”13 The left-liberal political scientist Sheldon Wolin foretold this sorry Democratic performance in his chilling 2008 book, Democracy Incorporated:
“The timidity of a Democratic Party mesmerized by centrist precepts points to the crucial fact that, for the poor, minorities, the working-class, anticorporatists, pro-environmentalists, and anti-imperialists, there is no opposition party working actively on their behalf. And this despite the fact that these elements are recognized as the loyal base of the party. By ignoring dissent and assuming the dissenters have no alternative, the party serves an important, if ironical, stabilizing function and in effect marginalizes any possible threat to the corporate allies of the Republican. Unlike the Democrats, however, the Republicans, with their combination of reactionary and innovative elements, are a cohesive, if not a coherent, opposition force.”14
Part of the problem for the Democrats was the outsized influence of dedicated, high-turnout segments of the electorate (Tea Party Republicans are a classic example) in midterm elections, when overall turnout is generally lower than in the quadrennial contests that include presidential candidates. In Presidential elections, progressive commentator Robin Hahnel notes, young, poor, minority and independent voters are more likely to turn out. “But not so in midterm elections, which are dominated by the party bases. For this reason,” Hahnel concludes, “a newly elected President needs to prioritize programs that please his party base, because only by energizing one’s base can one expect to do well in midterm elections.” 15
Clearly, Obama and the Democrats failed miserably to energize their base. The Pew Research Center reported in mid-October 2010 that the Democrats were considerably behind the Republicans in terms of stirring voter engagement. The Democrats’ base was becoming increasingly disengaged due to disappointment with the Democratic Party.16 As the Washington Post reported in early October, 43 percent of Democrats described themselves as “very interested” in the elections, as compared to 57 percent of Republicans and 74 percent of Tea Party supporters.17
Consistent with these findings, American University ’s Center for the Study of the American Electorate (CSAE) found that the average vote in statewide primaries in 2010 was the lowest ever recorded for Democrats during midterm election cycles – a telling indication of what CSAE director Curtis Gans called “a distinct lack of enthusiasm among the Democratic rank and file.” This permitted the Republican average statewide primary turnout to exceed Democratic primary turnout for the first time since 1930. Republican primary turnout, as a percent of the eligible electorate, was the highest recorded in four decades, surpassing the Democrats by more than 4 million votes.18
In the general midterm contest, the Democrats suffered from significant declines in voter participation on the part of segments of the electorate that played key roles in their triumphs in the 2006 (Congressional) and 2008 (Congressional and presidential) elections cycles. Union households (predominantly Democratic) comprised 23 percent of the active electorate in 2006; in 2010 they were 17 percent. Their support for Democratic House candidates dropped from 64 percent in 2006 to 60 percent in 2010. Young people (18-29 years olds)were 18 percent of voters in 2008, when two-thirds of them voted for Obama; in 2010 they made up just11 percent of the electorate and they voted 56 to 40 percent for Democratic candidates. Black voters (90 percent Democratic in the 2010 elections) fell from 13 to 10 percent of the voters between 2008 and 2010. By contrast, voters who identified themselves as “conservative” increased their share of the active electorate from 32 to 41 percent between 2006 and 2010. “Conservatives” were more enthusiastic about GOP House candidates last fall than in 2006, when 74 percent of self-identified conservatives supported Republicans. Last November, 84 percent did.19
The Democrats’ demoralization and stand-down of their own “base” was disastrous in light of broader developments in the electorate. As Time magazine reported, “Swing voters who flocked to Barack Obama two years ago turned against his agenda, electing a tidal wave of new Republican members of Congress.”20 Swing voting independents”—including women, independents, working-class whites, and white Catholics (among other groups)—leaned Republican in very significant ways.21 Democrats also suffered from the mobilization of traditionally privileged demographic groups. Reporting in the run-up to the midterms suggested that whites, men, independents, those sixty-five years and older and white Catholics were becoming increasingly likely to vote Republican.22
What Exists of a Popular Left
The problem on the left has not just been the Democrats. The nation’s relatively moribund liberal activist and policy infrastructure has responded to the social and economic crisis and the corporate and imperial direction of policy under nominal Democratic rule with remarkably little serious criticism and protest. As John Judis noted in the New Republic even before Obama’s administration was more than one month old, “There is not a popular left movement that is agitating for [Obama] to go well beyond where he would even ideally like to go… Instead, what exists of a popular left is either incapable of action or in Obama’s pocket” (emphasis added). By Judis’s analysis, the U.S. labor movement and groups like Moveon.Org were repeating the same “mistake that political groups often make: subordinating their concern about issues to their support for the [Democratic] party and its leading politicians.”23
Little occurred in the first two years of Obama’s presidency to seriously undermine the wisdom of Judis’s judgment. The nation’s liberal and progressive political and activist network has been unable and/or perhaps unwilling to channel legitimate popular and populist anger, while the political class acted in accord with the standard elite principle: government subsidy and protection for the rich and market discipline for the poor and working classes. The “progressive movement” has been missing in action, at once bedazzled and disciplined by the nation’s first black president, whose former chief of staff, Rahm Emmanuel, threatened egregious retaliation against those liberal Democrats and activists who dared to substantively challenge the corporate and militaristic direction of policy.24 As progressive author and journalist David Sirota noted after White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs launched a tirade against “the professional left” in the summer of 2010, “Much of the ‘American Left’ is organized around the Democratic Party and specifically around Obama. The professional Left,” Sirota noted, “are all the major, well-funded liberal interest groups (what Jane Hamsher sometimes refers to as ‘the veal pen’) and [those groups] have repeatedly shown themselves to be more loyal to the Democratic Party and Obama than their alleged policy/ideological missions….That kind of Left,” Sirota added, “is not built like successful social movements of the past.” It “doesn’t have the structure, independence or stomach for oppositional politics.”25
The left, such as it is, has been all too ready to surrender the mantle of populist rage to the dodgy, regressive, and authoritarian right represented by the Tea Party—the latest incarnation of the right-wing version of the paranoid style in American politics and the most powerful such embodiment of that version in more than half a century. As Progressive magazine editor Mathew Rothschild wrote prior to the elections:
"The very character of our country is at stake…with economic pain at the highest level ever seen by most Americans, and with minorities especially hard hit, we’re seeing a revolt not by people of color, not the unemployed, nor the foreclosed upon. Instead, we’re seeing a revolt by the white middle class. It’s a revolt against the very notion of a positive role for government in helping people. It’s a revolt against Latin American immigrants. It’s a revolt against Muslim Americans. And it’s a revolt against our black president."26
There’s a telling contrast here with Europe . As millions of European citizens flooded the streets in major social movements and marches to resist public budget, wage, and pension cuts imposed by the global economic crisis last September and October, American progressives could muster only a modest turnout in early October for the “One Nation” rally in Washington functioned primarily as a preelection get-out-the-vote rally for the Democrats and not as a significant statement against the bipartisan elite.27
At the risk of sounding narcissistic, this is all pretty much as I predicted. My June 2008 book Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics (completely ignored by the establishment progressive press even as it bore ringing endorsements from leading progressive left intellectuals like Noam Chomsky, John Pilger, Adolph Reed, Jr. and Charles Derber) expressed a strong concern that the fake-progressive Obama’s victory would offer a serious blow to the American left’s capacity for serious and independent action and called for a serious, appropriately outraged oppositional working class politics (beyond candidate-centered two-party electoralism) to prevent the capture of popular resentment by the authoritarian and racist, corporate-funded right. My June 2010 book The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama in the Real World of Power ends with the following warning:
‘Resentment abhors a vacuum…a dangerous right-wing variant of elite-coordinated fake-populism has arisen in the anger void left by the significantly Obama-induced slumber of “what exists of a popular left.” In the absence of meaningful anger and protest on the portside, the dodgy Republican right wing and its still-potent “noise machine” has been left to soak up and express much of the legitimate “populist rage” that ordinary Americans quite naturally feel over Washington’s continuing captivity to concentrated wealth, corporate-direction, and the military-industrial complex in the Age of Obama. The ominous resurgence of the American right, who leading political symbols and agents (Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman, and Rush Limbaugh) and “movements” (including the “Tea Party”) absurdly accuse the state-capitalist Obama of “socialism” and other “radical leftist” apostasies technically contradicts a plethora of public opinion data showing that most Americans hold left-of-center attitudes on key foreign and domestic policy issues. ( Massachusetts voters, among the most progressive in the nation, were hardly an exception). But where are voters supposed to turn to act on their majority progressive opinions and on their rising "populist" resentment? Not to Obama and the Obama-age Democrats, who have led the record transfer of federal taxpayer dollars to Wall Street titans and funded the Pentagon at record-setting levels while largely abandoning workers and the poor and turning “health reform” over to the corporate insurance syndicate.28 A “left” without forthright answers for legitimately angry masses of people is a dangerous development with dark historical antecedents. …Popular resentment abhors a progressive vacuum, in the Age of Obama as in numerous previous historical periods, with consequences that have often been quite unpleasant.’
Obama’s Cynical Liberal Base
Good for me, but here’s something I did not and should have predicted: the significant extent to which President Obama’s “liberal” intellectual defenders would agree with my sense of Obama as a center-right imperial corporatist and embrace that sense to defend him. That ugly American liberal I mentioned at the beginning of this essay does not actually take exception to my discussion of Obama and his administration as deeply conservative and reflexively loyal to dominant domestic and imperial hierarchies, strategies, and doctrines. He has no childish, populist, or pie-in-the-sky illusions about Obama being anything other than what the president really is – a cold and calculating ruling class politician who is emotionally and philosophically opposed to confronting concentrated wealth and power. He thinks I’ve got Obama just right: “the empire’s new clothes” in the “real world of power.” And – this is the difference – he likes those hierarchies and doctrines very much. Hs loyalty to them has served him well, with a light teaching load, non-onerously attained tenure(which required five peer-reviewed essays, a set of mediocre teaching evaluations, and a promise not to make his also under-producing colleagues look bad), frequent sabbaticals, supine graduate students, and a very comfortable salary (well into the six figures). His objections are not to my depiction of Obama as an imperial corporatist but to my moral criticism of the president from the “unrealistic,” “fantastic,” and “ultra radical” Left and to the notion that one might hope and work for anything more progressive than the periodic election of outwardly sophisticated, eloquent, and “pragmatic” Democrats. He thinks the radical-democratic ideas of Noam Chomsky and other “hard leftists” like me are amusing and quaint, bearing no credible relationship to reality. He knows there no serious chance or even need for genuine popular governance in Egypt , Honduras , or, for that matter, Chicago (where he thinks that “Rahm Emmanuel is going to do a fine job”) or Washington. He has no imagination beyond the existing imperial state of capitalist affairs and little incentive to develop such vision.
I am sometimes accused of having smeared all of Obama’s liberal supporters as childish “Obama-Laid” drinkers who foolishly swallowed his fake-progressive, occasionally populist-, antiwar-, and environmentalist-sounding rhetoric of “change from the bottom up.” If I’ve left that impression, let me state clearly here that it is mistaken. In the privileged academic and intellectual circles I’ve visited (and fled in horror), the Obamaphoria has been as much about narcissistic, all-knowing cynicism (cloaked as “realism” and “pragmatism”) and privilege as about silly projection of left progressive fantasies onto the president. Many of the elite “Obamanots” I’ve met have not been angered at or disappointed by the president’s centrist, privilege-friendly policy direction. They smelled that direction early on and liked it and its fake-progressive cover (the false rebel’s clothing) Obama gives them and other members of the upper middle and coordinator classes. They have positively enjoyed the racial discomfort they think the rise of the first black president has caused the white working class (they take special delight in detecting racism in misdirected populist anger at Washington ). They now routinely cite and approve evidence of the president’s business- and empire-friendly conservatism as part of their defense of Obama against right-wing attacks and to mock the paranoid Tea Party/Fox News/talk radio right’s ridiculous fantasy of Obama as a radical Leftist. Never mind that – while the mockery is surely deserved – such self-satisfied defense of the corporate imperial president only feeds the progressive vacuum that opens the door to an ever more radical right that means some ugly business when it comes to attacking the self-satisfied liberal elite.
Paul Street (www.paulstreet.org) is the author of many articles, chapters, speeches, and books, including Empire and Inequality: America and the World Since 9/11 (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2008); Racial Oppression in the Global Metropolis (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007; Segregated Schools: Educational Apartheid in the Post-Civil Rights Era (New York: Routledge, 2005); Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2008); and The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama in the Real World of Power (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2010). Crashing the Tea Party, co-authored with Anthony DiMaggio, will be released in April 2011. Street can be reached at email@example.com
1 Paul Street and Anthony DiMaggio, Crashing the Tea Party: Mass Media and the Campaign to Remake American Politics ( Boulder , CO : Paradigm, April 2011) athttp://www.paradigmpublishers.
2 Paul Street , Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics ( Boulder , CO : Paradigm Publishers, 2008); Paul Street , The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama in the Real World of Power ( Boulder , CO : Paradigm Publishers, 2010).
3 The quote marks are because neither book is really all that much about Obama (a rather boring and unimaginative person by my observation) per se – they are really about U.S. political culture and the broader institutional structures of corporate rule, American empire, and white supremacy.
4 Les Leopold, “Obama Is No FDR, We’re No Mass Movement,” Huffington Post, February 10, 2010, at www.huffingtonpost.com/les-
5 For an egregious, over-the-top example of purported iberal and progressive hope for Obama (to “lead us out of the wilderness”) to which Leo Leopold refers, see Robert Kuttner,Obama’s Challenge: America’s Economic Crisis and the Power of a Transformative Presidency (White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green, 2008). For Kuttner disappointed, chastened, and a little depressed, see his recent book A Presidency in Peril: The Inside Story of Obama’s Promise, Wall Street’s Power, and the Struggle to Control Our Economic Future(White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green, 2010).
6 Street, Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics.
7 Paul Street , “Keynote Reflections,” ZNet (July 29, 2004) at http://www.zcommunications.
8 Lance Selfa, “Preparing for a Republican Comeback?” International Socialist Review (September-October 2010).
9 Selfa, “Preparing for a Republican Comeback?” For evidence that Obama has governed in ways that are deeply continuous in many core aspects with the George W. Bush administration, see Street, The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama in the Real World of Power.
10 A problem that the Obama political team tried to acknowledge in personalized October e-mail messages that essentially apologized for disappointing progressives while trying to resurrect the party and politician’s hopeful and activist rhetoric of 2007–2008.I received the following e-mail from firstname.lastname@example.org on October 8, 2010: “Paul—I come into this election with clear eyes. I am proud of all we have achieved together, but I am mindful of all that remains to be done. I know some out there are frustrated by the pace of our progress. I want you to know I’m frustrated, too. But with so much riding on the outcome of this election, I need everyone to get in this game. Neither one of us is here because we thought it would be easy. Making change is hard. It’s what we’ve said from the beginning. And we’ve got the lumps to show for it. The fight this fall is as critical as any this movement has taken on together. And if we are serious about change, we need to fight as hard as we ever have. The very special interests who have stood in the way of change at every turn want to put their conservative allies in control of Congress. And they’re doing it with the help of billionaires and corporate special interests underwriting shadowy campaign ads. If they succeed, they will not stop at making our work more difficult—they will do their best to undo what you and I fought so hard to achieve. There is no better time for you to start fighting back—a fellow grassroots supporter has promised to match, dollar for dollar, whatever you can chip in today. I know that sometimes it feels like we’ve come a long way from the hope and excitement of the inauguration, with its ‘Hope’ posters and historic crowds on the National Mall. I will never forget it. But it was never why we picked up this fight. I didn’t run for president because I wanted to do what would make me popular. And you didn’t help elect me so I could read the polls and calculate how to keep myself in office. You and I are in this because we believe in a simple idea—that each and every one of us, working together, has the power to move this country forward. We believed that this was the moment to solve the challenges that the country had ignored for far too long. That change happens only from the bottom up. That change happens only because of you. So I need you to fight for it over the next 26 days. I need your time. I need your commitment. And I need your help to get your friends and neighbors involved. Please donate $3—and renew your commitment today: https://donate.barackobama.
11 Kevin Phillips, The Politics of Rich and Poor: Wealth and the American Electorate in the Reagan Aftermath (New York: Harper, 1989), 32.
12 Selfa, “Preparing for a Republican Comeback?”
13 Bob Herbert, “They Still Don’t Get It,” New York Times, January 23, 2010.
14 Sheldon Wolin, Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism( Princeton , NJ : Princeton University Press, 2008), 206. Other authors also had little difficulty predicting the limited progressive outcomes of a Democratic victory in the polls in 2008. See Street, Barack Obama and the Future; Lance Selfa, The Democrats: A Critical History ( Chicago : Haymarket, 2008); and John R. MacArthur, You Can’t Be President: The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America ( New York : Melville House, 2008).
15 “Robin Hahnel, “Election Redux: Learning from the 2010 Midterm Elections, Part 1: Lessons for Others,” ZNet, November 4, 2010, at www.zcommunications.org/
16 Pew Research Center, “Democrats Stirring But Fail to Match GOP Support, Engagement,” Pew Research Center, October 21, 2010 at http://pewresearch.org/pubs/
17 Dan Balz, “Tea Party Fuels GOP Midterm Enthusiasm, Action,” Washington Post, October 9, 2010, at www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/
18 “Democrats See Lowest Primary Turnout Ever, Study Says,” Who Runs Government, from The Washington Post (September 17, 2010) at http://www.whorunsgov.com/
19 Karlyn Bowman, “What the Voters Actually Said on Election Day,” The American (November 16, 2010), citing CBS exit polls at http://www.american.com/
20. David Von Drehle “Where the Rout Leave the Democrats,” Time (November 3, 2010) at http://www.time.com/time/
21 Gary Langer, “2010 Elections Exit Poll Analysis: The Political Price of Economic Pain,” ABC News (November 3, 2010) at http://abcnews.go.com/
22 Pew Research Center, “Republicans Faring Better with Men, Whites, Independents, and Seniors,” Pew Research Center , August 10, 2010, at http://people-press.org/
23 John Judis, “End the Honeymoon,” New Republic, February 13, 2009, at http://www.tnr.com/politics/
24 See the chilling account in Christopher Hayes, “Tuesdays with Rahm,” The Nation, October 26, 2009.
25 David Sirota, “Will Obama Get a Primary Challenge in 2012?” Huffington Post, August 13, 2010. For critical reflections on the performance of the American “progressive movement” in the first yea of Obama’s presidency, see the Afterword to Street’s The Empire’s New Clothes.
26 Matthew Rothschild, “Rampant Xenophobia,” The Progressive, October 16, 2010, 8.
27 On the October 2 rally, see Jared Ball, “One Nation Under a Grip, Not a Groove,” Black Agenda Report, October 6, 2010; and Glen Ford, “Ignominious Surrender on the Mall,”Black Agenda Report, October 6, 2010, both at www.blackagendareport.com/?q=
28 Paul Street , “What’s the Matter With the Democrats? Post-Massachusetts Reflections on Popular Resentment, the Liberal-Left Vacuum, and the Right Comeback,” ZNet (January 24, 2010); Lance Selfa, “Can the Right Stage a Comeback?” International Socialist Review, Issue 69 (January-February 2010).