It was supposed to be getting better. Barack Obama ran a campaign whose principle theme was “hope.” Progressive values were in the ascendant. Philip Slater released a book (my review here) anticipating a rise of multicultural, environmentally-conscious, and egalitarian Integral culture. And whatever happened, it had to be better than Bush, right?
In just a few short months, something else has happened. Slater might interpret the Tea Partiers and Town Hell activists as a reaction of the old order’s immune system and might even take my sense of dread for the metamorphosis into a new, hopefully better outcome.
But as Richard Dawson announced innumerable times on the television game show Family Feud, “Survey says!” And a buzzer sounded as the answer flipped into view. No.
Obama has, to say the least, proved disappointing. A public option might actually emerge after all from all the political drama of the last several months but Obama’s record on everything else has simply been dismal. There is little or no hope of meaningful reform of institutions that wrought economic devastation on the world and no sign of recognition that capitalism is unsustainable. Even as foreclosures rise, there is little of the promised help for struggling homeowners and there is no relief in sight for the unemployed; even the Obama administration effectively admits that its economic stimulus has fallen short. It seems only the rich are safe while others are ignored. The puppet government in Iraq has failed to maintain security even in the purportedly safest parts of Baghdad, let alone for people elsewhere in the country, rationalizing a more probable extension of U.S. occupation. The Obama administration persists in delusions about the Israel-Palestine conflict. The dishonesty of U.S. politics is now so blatant that one wonders why only right wing lunatics are on the streets.
Not only are right wingnuts the only ones protesting, but some survey results suggest they are in the ascendant. It is difficult to reconcile this with the hope that Obama ran on, Slater’s prediction of a rise of Integral culture, or Progressive assertions that the U.S. public is leaning left. Even some mainstream political calculations seem to have tilted toward fascism.
It is hard to say what would have happened if the Bush administration had refused to relinquish power. But a case that we are better off with the preservation of the present political order is getting harder to make.