Posted by: Doug Henwood | August 22, 2011

Obama’s “progressive base”

I just read this in a magazine: “Obama will also need a push from the progressive base that elected him in 2008….”

Wow. Sad. Give it up, guys. He’s just not that into you.

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Responses

  1. The problem with Obama’s progressive base is that they think they’re his base.

  2. I can’t help but think the touch-football revanchist NPR-style neoliberalism of Obama is exactly what the “progressives” want: a ‘polite’ ‘compromiser’ who will ‘get things done’ even when those things are totally wrong. See the farcical “entitlement” discourse.

    That’s exactly the sort of preference for destructive action and needless revision against an imagined enemy that you see with, say, 1930s antisemitic agitation and post-war conspiracism. For all the post-war Frankfurt School research into the sadomasochism of reactionaries and antisemites, I can’t help but see the same dynamic at play in popular liberalism. There is, after all, an entire industry devoted to inventing post-facto explanations and justifications for Obama’s behavior, which seems analogous to me to the conspiracy industry on the far right, just without the overt genocidal imperatives. If this isn’t bad faith in action, I’m not really sure what is.

    I imagine that sounds hopeless, but it’s another way of saying that Adolph Reed’s ‘Rachel Maddow constituency’ is not the constituency of the left. I think there’s a serious argument to come out of that but I don’t have the time or will to flesh it out right now.

  3. i don’t think the liberals are sado-masochists – more like abused wives who follow the biblical injunction to let their husbands lead.

  4. It’s called shared sacrifice. Workers have to sacrifice their income, benefits, any hope of retirement, workplace safety, and future for their children and grandchildren, and anyone to the left of Genghis Khan has to sacrifice all reason and dignity. See, wasn’t that easy?

  5. Re: a disaffected generation Y’er,

    Sounds like I happened into the middle of an interesting conversation. As it happens, some years ago, I chanced upon an interview with Tony Kushner in which he seemed inadvertently to make it quite clear that he was mightily influenced by a close undergraduate friend who was much taken with the cultural significance of sadomasochiam.

    Apparently, she was badly injured (or killed) in a traffic accident. He, to his lasting discredit, does not acknowledge her.

    But I ramble,
    Claude

  6. As a philistine I’m not conversant with Tony Kushner, either with Angels in America or Munich, but maybe I should be. I’m not committed to the sadomasochism point because it’s too ‘culture studies’ and Frankfurt School for me, but at this point I’ve spent too much time researching far-right thought and the analysis of it not to see it almost everywhere. There’s something very slippery about the “progressive” label, too–Henry Ford was a progressive, after all. “Progressivism” in its earlier form had IMHO strong paternalistic and reactionary (if reformist) components so maybe it’s a “Father knows best” thing.

    But that said, Obama’s approval ratings are somewhere around Bush the Lesser’s, which is maybe evidence that even presidents can’t escape the effects of structural readjustment. Right now Obama doesn’t have much in the way of “support” from most people, including those who supported him. IIRC he got more votes than Reagan did (with a smaller margin?) so that’s saying something. To get back to the quote Doug provides, the stupid reality of it all is that Americans do vote for presidents largely on the basis of the present economy, but we just never actually get to hear it spoken about in a sane way.

  7. The best way to deal with a Republican president like Eisenhower was to pack Congress with Democrats. Presumably, that would also work well with Obama.


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