Why Corporate Elite Back Obama

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[Elections 2008]

Barack Obama. Crowds of everyday people flock to hear his song of change. Young people see him as the fulfillment of their multiracial ideals.

Wall Street isn’t advertising it, but they back him too — with megabucks. These contradictory constituencies can’t both be satisfied. In a time of economic and political crisis, understanding what Obama’s candidacy means, and what he can and can’t deliver, is a matter of survival for workers and the poor.

New racial attitudes: a ­collective achievement.

Obama’s meteoric rise could not have happened without the huge civil rights and Black Pow­er struggles of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.
These mobilizations ended legal segregation, won voting rights, and gained affirmative action in education and hiring that desegregated workplaces. People of color — and women — entered professions, nontraditional trades, and law and medical schools. In the process and over time, they broke down race and sex stereotypes.

The ’60s-era movements were fueled by, and boosted, the massive influx of people of color and women into the workforce that started during World War II.

These groups together have become the majority of workers. This increased social importance made the campaigns of both Obama and Hillary Clinton possible.
Youths who embrace Obama’s post-racial message have been key to his momentum. Blacks and other people of color, unionists and progressives believe in him. He has real mass appeal.

Especially at first, he raised issues vital to working people, who overwhelmingly disapprove of the country’s direction. They oppose the war and are alarmed by the mortgage meltdown, spiraling costs, rising unemployment and the threat of economic collapse.

But the “inner Obama” is something else. He paints himself as a grassroots leader, but his positions are close to those of John McCain and George Bush.
He helped renew the Patriot Act and widen spying powers under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) — giving telephone companies immunity for violating the law. He wants to broaden Bush’s “faith-based” initiative funneling social service money to churches. Claiming to oppose the Iraq War, he consistently votes to fund it, and hedges about getting out soon. He peddles the shameful fiction of the U.S. as a beacon of light in the world.

Obama is from a layer of managers and politicians of color and their female counterparts who benefited from the liberation movements but subscribe to the system. Their role is to keep women and minorities “in line.” Workers often get worse treatment from them than white bosses or bureaucrats can get away with. Like Condoleezza Rice, Colin Pow­ell, and Latino Governor Bill Richardson, Obama is here to tell people of color, women and workers to “get over” their grievances.

His stands on race expose his conservatism. He denounced his former pastor Jeremiah Wright after the latter was widely convicted in the media for the “crime” of being Black and angry. In June, his staffers barred two Muslim women in head scarves from being photographed behind him at a Detroit rally. Though Obama apologized, he has so far refused to speak at mosques, while frequently appearing at Christian churches and synagogues.

And on Father’s Day, Obama condemned African American men who are absent fathers, with no mention of family-splitting circumstances such as mass incarceration, unemployment, discrimination and poverty. Echoing a stock racist insult, he said these fathers act like boys instead of men!
Obama peddles an undercover racism that blames poor people of color for the bias they face. But this does nothing to save him from the open bigotry directed at him and Michelle Obama.

The poisonous mix of racism and sexism.

While Obama’s popular support shows how far race relations have come, the backlash against him shows that racism is still alive and kicking. The Internet rightwing lunatic fringe and Rush Limbaugh types are open about their racist contempt. Meanwhile, absurd fabrications that Obama is far-left, Muslim or even terrorist are believed by some because he is Black (and has a non-European name).

Hillary Clinton faced sexism attacking her both for being unfeminine in her assertiveness and too female to be an effective leader. Since her exit, Michelle Obama is under increasing racist and misogynist fire by the right.

Fox News pundit Michelle Malkin and the National Review, to name only two, despise that she is a well-spoken professional, and so have painted her as a bitter and uppity Black “baby mama.” Open sexism is still more politically acceptable than open racism, but both together are a blood sport.

However, while condemning these assaults and the ugly stereotypes they are based on, let’s not to be fooled about where Obama’s allegiances really lie.
Corporate underwriters.

No one gets a major party endorsement without being vetted as a faithful vassal of the corporate elite.

Obama, an unknown state legislator, was created as a national figure by being chosen to speak at the 2004 Democratic Party convention. In the first quarter of 2007, he received more money from Wall Street titans than any other candidate, and they remain among his largest contributors. Obama says that his presidential campaign is “funded by the American people,” but half of his contributions come from large donors, and $72 million from business!

Progressive attitudes are projected on Obama, but the robber barons are his real patrons and clientele.

Assignment: disarm the mass movements. In sum, Obama has an appearance that youth, people of color and workers respond to, but the essence that corporate America needs. Our rulers use racism to divide workers and reap super-profits off the backs of the scorned — but they are prepared to front a Black figurehead to disguise their regime of exploitation-as-usual.

As Black journalist and political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal says, “It is a measure of how dire is the hour that they’ve passed the keys to the kingdom to a Black man.” The crashing global econ­omy is a train wreck in progress. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are disastrous, yet necessary to prop up corporate profits. The next president must bleed workers and the poor to uphold the status quo.

Just as it was the “liberal” Bill Clinton who could dismantle welfare and pass NAFTA, the policies working people can expect from a President Obama will be more harsh than a conservative could manage without sparking mass revolt.

Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report, who criticizes Obama for his anti-Black conservatism, goes on to make two key points: “Peace and racial and social justice cannot be achieved absent a popular movement, which in the United States must be led by African Americans.” Obama in the White House will not make that kind of change, and the movement that can do it will have to take him on, starting now.

(Freedom Socialist Newspaper)

Black Star Editor's Note: It's amazing how smart people can be so naive---as if we can merely wish away the existence of corporations and their power. If one posseses the talent and skills of Barack Obama and can indeed become president, should one simply stand on the periphery because of corporate U.S./global dominance? Why can't Obama's rise be seen for what it is--Could he have accomplished what he's done so far, in the 1960s? Obama is an outsider compared to the typical establishment politician; maybe he'll pave the way for someone who's even more of an outsider in the future.


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