What has happened tonight across the entire country in the many gubernatorial and senatorial races in the 2014 midterm election is nothing short of a major political CATASTROPHE by any objective standard and is a vicious electoral repudiation and open assault on not only President Obama but ALL people of color (and especially African Americans) as well as labor, women (especially women of color), the poor, the working class, most of the middle class, young people under 40, and any and everyone else who currently SINCERELY believes in and is able and willing to relentlessly FIGHT for freedom, justice, equality, and democracy in the United States/Hates.
In response to these stark and unavoidable social, cultural, political, ideological, and economic realities I offer below the first part of a much longer essay on how and why the Obama Presidency has in large part been essentially a major failure and how that general failure has been deeply aided and abetted by a very broad cross section of Americans who through a bewildering but nevertheless painfully clear combination of factors have been major contributors to this failure (as have the Obama administration and the larger Democratic Party itself). As a result, It’s well past time to face reality and stop indulging the self serving and delusional attitude that these frankly horrific turn of events are simply always caused by someone or something else. While that is an often strangely comforting and even smug attitude to have when things are going as badly as they are (and have been) it doesn’t help us to actually confront and seriously address our real problems and contradictions no matter how tenacious and fiercely reactionary and repressive our well organized and extremely well funded massive opposition and frankly mortal enemies are (and have always been). For the fundamental question remains for all of us as it always has been in the past, is currently true during the present, and most certainly looms in our future: WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT? No excuses, self pity, or sly defensive maneuvers will suffice in this always arduous and necessary STRUGGLE. Because if we don’t wake up and actually DO what is both POSSIBLE AND NECESSARY we will discover in the sobering words from the legendary 1981 poem “There It Is" by the late, great African American poet Jayne Cortez (1934-2012) the exact extent and cost of the consequences of this alienation and disillusionment:
SEE AND HEAR: Jayne Cortez and the Firespitters - "There it is" (recording & video):
From: There It Is
by Jayne Cortez
...And if we don't fight
if we don't resist
if we don't organize and unify and
get the power to control our own lives
Then we will wear
the exaggerated look of captivity
the stylized look of submission
the bizarre look of suicide
the dehumanized look of fear
and the decomposed look of repression
forever and ever and ever
And there it is
The Real Reasons Why The Obama Presidency Has Essentially Been A Failure And Why American Citizens Generally Are As Responsible For This Failure As The President, the American Left, And the Republican, Tea, and Democratic Parties Are—(First of Three Parts)
by Kofi Natambu
The Panopticon Review
“Bobby Kennedy recently made me the soul stirring promise that one day—thirty years, if I’m lucky—I can be President too. It never entered this boy’s mind. I suppose—it has not entered the country’s mind yet—that perhaps I wouldn’t want to be. And in any case, what really exercises my mind is not this hypothetical day on which some other Negro “first” will become the first Negro President. What I am really curious about is just what kind of country he’ll be President of.”
—James Baldwin, 1961
"One cannot change in one’s head that which can only be changed in society.”
—C.L.R. James, 1960
“If President Obama’s agenda is ultimately defeated it will largely come down to a lethal combination of racism and hubris—‘their' racism and ‘his' hubris.”
—Kofi Natambu, 2009
“A genuine leader is not a seeker of consensus, but a molder of consensus.”—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1967
"If you have no critics you'll likely have no success”
First, let’s be clear. A colossal number of lies not to mention sheer willful ignorance and wildly uninformed nonsense have been and is being written and circulated about the Obama presidency, the President’s administration, and their major public policy decisions. As a result it is virtually impossible to properly assess just how truly damaging. pervasive, and corrosive the national impact of this general stupidity, bad faith, venal bigotry, and relentless mendacity has been—and continues to be—with regard to any intellectually honest analysis of what this President has and has not accomplished during the first six years of his eight year tenure in office. What can be safely said however is that the general doctrine and practice of white supremacy (the specific ideological identity of a virulent and particularly toxic form of what is generally called 'American racism’) has largely contributed to an already well established and festering social and political hostility within the American rightwing in general toward just about anything Obama has to say or do. The reasons for this dismal reality--which we should never forget were well in place and was already about to take a major toll on the immediate future of the President’s administration on the very first day of his presidency in January 2009—are of course deeply rooted in North America’s violently perverse 'racial history’ whose fundamental template remains that of chattel slavery (going back to over 150 years before this republic was even founded in 1776) and the notorious state sanctioned national apartheid system (popularly known as ‘Jim Crow’) that emerged after slavery’s “official” demise in 1863 which has clearly dominated American society for most of the past 150 years. Given these chilling and incontravertible historical facts it certainly doesn’t take a major scholar of American politics to understand why and how this notorious historical legacy continues to directly inform and shape our political, cultural, and economic institutions—and thus our general perceptions and understanding of what the meme ‘first black president’ actually means. Nor does it require a genius to grasp just how and why the fundamentally structural, institutional, and systemic manifestations of this rancid and lethally destructive history are seriously affecting and systematically undermining the attempts of this President to get anything accomplished in the realms of legislative and political reform.
Having said that however, and despite the obvious role that the heinous American right has played in supporting and maintaining this reality, it must be said emphatically that neither the President, nor his administration, nor his political party--or the U.S. left generally—is immune from very serious criticism as well. In fact it would be equally intellectually dishonest and deeply irresponsible to give the utterly false impression that all of the current limitations, problems, shortcomings, blindspots, and failures of the White House can or should be laid only at the foot of the Republican and Tea Party right. Rather one must honestly acknowledge and be fully prepared to detail exactly what these limitations and failures represent or signify within this wider societal context if one is to make any real sense at all of what has transpired in this society and culture since Obama was initially elected by a massive ten million vote margin in November, 2008 (despite receiving a mere 43% of the white vote nationally!). So let’s begin with an analytical survey of how these two major interacting factors of ’their racism’ and 'Obama’s hubris’ have contributed to the present political, economic, and ideological debacle in the United States.
THE NEW CONFEDERACY IS EXACTLY LIKE THE OLD ONE (PLUS IT TOO HAS ACCESS TO SOCIAL MEDIA!)
There are many debilitating myths about American history in general and American politics in particular. In fact it could be said that the widespread intellectual and social reliance, even obsessive dependency, on this enormous cobweb of lies, distortions, half truths, misrepresentations, and dangerous fallacies have contributed to an atmosphere of social discourse that is often drowning in a cesspool of rhetorical evasions and blatantly false assertions. One of the most dangerous and paralyzing of these myths has to do with the alleged progressive attitudes and values of the national white American electorate—especially in the so-called modern era since the end of World War II. One of the persistent articles of faith of this mythology has it that since the popular notion of the ‘American Century’ (which we now often rather arrogantly refer to as the recent history of ‘Amercian exceptionalism’) emerged as a slogan following the collective defeat by the Allies of the United States, Europe, (and ironically by the then Soviet Union) of the global forces of fascism led of course by the German Nazi Party, there has been an endless propaganda campaign in the media, popular culture, and in academia of the idea that the United States is fundamentally a progressive, forward looking nation that deeply loves and supports democracy and is a firm believer in the systemic eradication of all forms and vestiges of such virulently anti-democratic, repressive, and reactionary ideas and practices as institutional and structural racism, sexism, class oppression and exploitation, homophobia, and imperial militarism. However even a cursory examination of the actual history of the U.S. since 1945 indicates that this reading of a substantial majority of the white American electorate is not merely inaccurate and off the mark but delusional.
For a stark and very significant example consider what the national voting record of white Americans in presidential elections has been since 1948. It was in that year that former Vice President Harry Truman first ran for the presidency as the Democratic Party candidate following the untimely death of his predecessor President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in April of 1945 (who in November 1944 had won the presidency for an unprecedented fourth term—a future possibility that was eliminated by the passage of the twenty second amendment to the constitution in 1947 which stated that no presidential incumbent could henceforth serve more than two terms). However despite this new ruling and the fact that both the most far left and far rightwing segments of the national Democratic Party bolted from Truman candidacy and ran their own independent campaigns (i.e. former Vice President in Roosevelt’s last administration in 1944 Henry Wallace of the Progressive Party and then Democratic Senator Strom Thurmond of the openly racist and segregationist “Dixiecrat” Party) Truman was still able to garner 53% of the white vote nationally, that along with the heavily truncated 71% of the black vote was barely enough to provide Truman with a surprising but very narrow victory over his Republican opponent New York Governor Thomas Dewey, whom the media and most political pundits had erroneously predicted would easily beat Truman.
What’s also significant about the national presidential election of 1948 is that except for only ONE other occasion in the past 66 years(!) the Democratic candidate for President (whether he was an incumbent or not) has utterly failed to receive anywhere near a majority of the national white vote. Please allow me to repeat this harrowing statistic: In the last 16 presidential elections following Truman’s victory in 1948 and going back 62 years to the presidential election in 1952, a substantial majority of white American voters have voted for the Republican candidate--again whether he was the incumbent or not—an astonishing 15 times or 93% of the time overall. . The ONLY exception in the past six decades is 1964 when former Vice President Lyndon Johnson, who assumed the presidency following John F. Kennedy’s assassination in November of 1963, ran on his own for the office a year later vs. arch conservative and rightwing political reactionary Barry Goldwater. Clearly, in what was essentially a national sympathy vote for the successor of the slain President Kennedy, Johnson received a whopping 60% of the national white vote, a figure that hasn’t been reached by any presidential candidate in the Democratic Party in the fifty years since; one would have to go back 70 years to 1944 in Franklin’s Roosevelt’s last presidential victory to find any Democratic Party candidate who won as large of a percentage of the white vote. In fact in the last 16 elections combined Democratic Party candidates have won a absolutely pathetic cumulative average of just 38% of the national white vote.
So the obvious question looms: What do these dramatic statistics tell us about the modern white American electorate since 1945? Well for starters it clearly and rather loudly tells us that the average white voter in general since 1945 has not politically supported and does not currently support a progressive social and economic agenda by the government. Of course this may change at some point in the near future (maybe in a decade from now when the current generations born before 1945 begin to pass away) but I highly doubt it will change anytime soon in the foreseeable future (i.e. the next two national presidential election cycles leading up to and probably including 2020).
It also tells us that President Obama who won only 43% of the national white vote in 2008 and an even more dismal 39% against Mitt Romney in 2012 NEVER HAD THE POLITICAL SUPPORT IN WORD OR DEED OF THE GREAT MAJORITY OF WHITE AMERICAN CITIZENS. This bedrock and very important fact cannot be emphasized enough because a major part of the gigantic media haze and irrationally wishful thinking that has followed Obama around since 2007 when he initially began running for the Democratic Party nomination for President has been the willful fantasy and utterly absurd notion (unfortunately heavily encouraged and given far more credence than it deserved by Obama's campaign team and by Obama himself) that the United States was not as divided as it most clearly is on racial, class, and gender grounds as many people made it out to be and that he was not really handicapped as a candidate, and later President, by these persistently disturbing racial and ideological factors. In truth of course like every other Democratic Party president since 1952 Obama owes his two terms almost exclusively to the always heavily supportive black vote—and since 2008 to the Latino vote as well—despite the fact that the President hasn’t always been as politically and strategically appreciative of these facts as he could and most certainly should have been…(End of Part One)...
Voters’ Second Thoughts on Hope and Change
by Jonathan Martin
November 5, 2014
New York Times
A decade after President Obama made his national political debut with an appeal for Americans to put aside their divisions, the midterm elections on Tuesday delivered a resounding rejection of his call for consensus. Mr. Obama’s poor poll numbers dragged down candidates and hastened his party’s decline in the South and the West, as Democrats watched their hold on the Senate slip away.
More broadly, this year’s election illustrated the geographical limitations of a party the president powerfully remade with a young and diverse coalition. In his two convincing presidential victories, Mr. Obama showed a new way for Democrats to win by solidifying their hold on liberal-leaning states and making gains in places with fast-changing demographics. But he is almost certain to leave his party weaker in the states that are crucial to retaining a congressional majority.
“It’s something we’re going to have to solve,” said David Axelrod, Mr. Obama’s longtime political adviser, about the decline of Democrats’ power in conservative-leaning states.
Republicans captured Senate seats in Montana, South Dakota, West Virginia and Arkansas — rural states with rich Democratic traditions that have moved sharply to the right in the Obama years. The results are not only a reinforcement of the red-blue divide Mr. Obama lamented in his 2004 speech at the Democratic National Convention in Boston but demonstrated that the same political gulf has become as much the dominant force shaping congressional races as presidential ones.
Tuesday’s results will further purify the two parties. Moderate Democrats in Congress have been replaced by conservative Republicans, continuing a trend that began before Mr. Obama but that has accelerated during his tenure — in no small part because of anger among conservatives. Strategists in both parties agree that voters, especially in parts of the South and West, were handing Republicans a durable advantage in the House and ensuring a closely divided Senate by increasingly backing the same party for Congress that they do for president.
“It is so difficult now to escape the president’s pull for good or for ill depending on which party you’re in,” said Representative Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma, a longtime political strategist. “That’s taking away the middle ground in American politics, whether it’s the loss of Northeastern Republicans or Southern Democrats.”
But as jubilant as Republicans were about capturing the Senate for the first time in eight years, the party’s own leaders warned that they should not misread the results.
“The American people voted to rein in President Obama, but they also sent a message that they want to get things done,” said Karl Rove, the Republican strategist. “They really do want us to work together.”
Such sentiments reflect the realization that, while Republicans flexed their muscles in conservative states and demonstrated that they can at least compete in some swing states, the results Tuesday hardly swept away the considerable challenges they must address before they can take back the White House or hope to tighten their grip on the Senate. Republicans now face a challenge that is the mirror opposite of their counterparts’: how to avoid merely being a powerful congressional party and be competitive again in presidential campaigns, in which Democrats have won the popular vote in five of the last six elections.
Although the Republican hold on the House may be impregnable until after district lines are redrawn again in the next decade — largely because of the party’s enlarged majority and gerrymandered seats — the same demographic problems that have hampered Republicans in Mr. Obama’s two wins appear evident again in 2016. Voter turnout will spike for the presidential race, and the Senate battle will be fought in more liberal-leaning states. Only 10 Democratic-held Senate seats are at stake in two years, and Republicans must defend incumbents in Illinois, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
For Republicans, there remains the serious question of how they compete with the constituencies that increasingly decide the presidency. There were few states in this year’s election where Hispanic or Asian voters played a crucial role. So far the Republican route to victory has been chiefly through criticizing an unpopular president and his policies — something that will hardly suffice in 2016, when Republicans face an electorate that will be even less white than it was in Mr. Obama’s two elections.
“This could just be an epic Pyrrhic victory because Republicans continue to alienate the groups they need to win in the future,” said Neera Tanden, head of the Center for American Progress, a liberal research group.
The Obama years have in effect represented a political trade-off: Democrats largely abandoned the more centrist, line-blurring approach of Bill Clinton to motivate an ascendant bloc of liberal voters. That strategy twice secured the presidency, but in the two midterm races it meant sacrificing the culturally conservative districts and states that had ensured Democratic congressional majorities.
For 2016, one part of the Democrats’ wager is that their next standard-bearer, likely to be Hillary Rodham Clinton, can perform as well with the groups that lifted Mr. Obama and improve their prospects with voters who opposed him, namely working-class whites.
But Democrats are also invested in demography, believing that they will overcome the deficiencies on vivid display Tuesday by securing those Republican or swing states with increasingly young and nonwhite populations.
“We’re on a demographic march that is going to put more states in play,” said David Plouffe, Mr. Obama’s former campaign manager, citing Arizona, Georgia and Texas. Such raw political projections are, of course, far removed from the hopeful rhetoric that vaulted Mr. Obama to stardom 10 years ago.
But the president seems to have little regret about his choice of words. “Yes, he said he was going to bring the country together,” Mr. Axelrod said, “but he also said he was going to take on some tough problems.”
"The most deadly, dangerous, and powerful enemy of African Americans, Latino Americans, and Asian Americans in general, Women in general, the poor in general, the working class in general, children in general, Freedom in general and Democracy in general in American society today is the truly heinous Republican Party and their endless number of severely bigoted and demagogic minions, mentors, sponsors, and supporters. Anyone who doesn't know or believes this blatantly obvious fact is not only a hopeless FOOL but ultimately deserves their "fate." As so many have said so accurately so many times in our collective history "truth crushed to earth shall rise again"..."
Special Edition: Washington Wakes to a Republican Reality
By Carl Hulse
New York Times
G.O.P. Rout in the Senate Was Only the Start
Bottom line: Republicans, 31; Democrats, 15; to be determined, 4.
Voting by Numbers
BY JELANI COBB
OCTOBER 27, 2014
THE NEW YORKER
Cornel West Strikes Back At Paul Krugman's Rolling Stone Article: He Got My Obama Critique 'Wrong'