God I’m sick of this Obama shit.
An argument sketch, to be followed by a lengthier article:
The “power base” of a presidential candidate—what moves him and makes him, fundamentally—is not any segment of the electorate but the monied interests that have to be satisfied long before a candidate gets to the electorate. This is why businesses donate to both parties at once. This base effects a natural rightward pull on the candidate which will be effective unless a suitable political “counterweight” is applied. It explains why every single presidency since the Sixties has been a step to the right of the presidency before it. Obama will not and cannot buck the trend no matter how much he would love to and no matter what he says (which isn’t all that good, by the way). Good and benign presidential behavior is not correlated with good and benign intentions in the minds of presidents; it is correlated with that “counterweight” to the rightward drift—namely, robust progressive social movements. And we don’t have any. (We had the beginnings of an anti-war movement which pissed itself away getting behind the drive to elect Kerry. Learn from this.) This basic fact made a Nazi like Richard Nixon our last truly progressive president—far more progressive than Clinton ever dared in his private heart of hearts to be.
And voting for Democrats actually hurts the progressive cause: Not only does it hinder social movements on various levels (more on this later), but it teaches the Democrats that they don’t have to be but a “step to the left” of the Republicans. When Democrats can rest easy in their support from progressives (women, minorities, labor, the poor, my friends on myspace), they don’t have to concede anything to them. They only have to make concessions to the conservative (male, white, middle class) voters who they can’t take for granted. This has gradually shifted the whole scope of political discourse in the US—what counts as left and what counts as right—to the right. This makes it harder for presidents and those social movements alike to get anything “good” done.