[Hat tip to Lisa... this one merits a post.]
By Joshua Frank
November 06, 2008 — – Tuesday’s celebration hangovers have finally started to wear off, and the pieces are beginning to fall into place. Change will be coming to Washington in January, but it is difficult to decipher what form it will take. Early clues, however, suggest that Barack Obama’s administration will prove unlikely to alter the fundamental political machinery that has led us into war and economic turmoil. Below is a brief summary of Obama’s potential choices for a few key roles in his administration.
Chief of Staff
Obama’s key White House position will go to Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois. While Emanuel knows his way around the corridors of Washington, qualifying him in the traditional sense, this alone doesn’t mean he’s the guy you want drawing up Obama’s policy papers day after day.
For starters, Emanuel is a shameless neoliberal with close ties to the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), even co-authoring a strategy book with DLC president Bruce Reed. Without Emanuel, Bill Clinton would not have been able to thrust NAFTA down the throats of environmentalists and labor in the mid-1990s. Over the course of his career, Emanuel’s made it a point to cozy up to big business, making him one of the most effective corporate fundraisers in the Democratic Party. He’s also a staunch advocate of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories.
Emanuel’s shining moment came in 2006 as he helped funnel money and poured ground support into the offices of dozens of conservative Democrats, expanding his party’s control of the House of Representatives. Emanuel, who supports the War…
The best analog we have in history here is the administration of FDR, where the president was compelled by the perils of increasing popular discontent to provide the space for popular power. It was a development paradigm, eg, the TVA, so there is an ecological apsect to this that is completely and critically different. Barring the revolutionary transformation of society in one fell swoop, the system is going to require some duct tape and bailing wire to hold it together for the time being, or folk will literally starve. This will likely require a Keynesian intervention of some kind (or it all goes over a cliff, and Obama’s administration is counted by history as more of the same shit). Key here is a public works jobs program; and if we don’t fight like crazy for one that focuses on reparing biospheric damage, then shame on every one of us. Just as urgently, however, we have to rebuild an antiwar movement worthy of its name. There are some obstacles, the greatest being the attitude that we should give Obama a chance before we start hectoring. That’s dead wrong… immoral in fact. Every day that these occupations go on is a terrible sin; and our silence and forebearance are forms of complicity.
My disagreement with current paradigms on the left is that the “ultraleft” (as Charles calls it) engages in do-nothing abstentionism unless it controls a process (seldom, if ever), and the “practical” left wants us to suspend our criticism of the center on behalf of some nonsense called center-left unity. So we can be either irrelevant or dishonest. Time we started learning to walk and chew gum at the same time.
We have some serious evils in our faces right now; and if we are going to confront them, then we need to list them, organize against them, and make that opposition felt in the principalities and powers. Big pharma. Big food. Big war. Big oil. Big banks. Big prisons. And the big-dick culture of me-first domination and revenge.
I have a litmus test, if anyone is interested. Let’s see if Guantanamo is closed in the first month of the new administration. Start taliking about it now.