Democratic supporter. Obama presidency doomed?
Photo: Reuters
Sever Plocker

America’s Right taking over

Op-ed: US leftist camp paying price for avoiding populism in wake of economic crisis

You enter a bookstore in New York and the shelves you see are packed with political books on one subject: The disaster brought upon America by Barack Obama.


Under various titles, published by various publishers, and written in different styles – ranging from impassioned, aggressive writing to a seemingly cold, scientific approach – a cohesive message is being directed at the American reader. The president you elected in the last elections is both a dangerous leftist who serves the interests of international socialism and a submissive servant of the Wall Street masters and capitalists.


Obama is the American manifestation of the eternal Jew: Apparently, he simultaneously belongs to the Bolshevik camp and to the bankers’ camp. The devil is dwarfed next to him.


The anti-Obama wave is murky to the point of disgust. Columnists, authors, and TV show hosts who turned themselves into electronic preachers (regrettably, there are people like that here too) accuse Obama of using hundreds of billions of dollars to save the hated banks, and also of secretly planning to nationalize the banks, the healthcare system, private schools, and America’s soul.


Almost all the charges leveled at Obama are false. The billion dollar plan to salvage the financial system was thought up and activated by the Bush Administration. At the end of the day it cost the American taxpayer nothing, or next to nothing, yet it prevented a once-in-a-century economic collapse.


Obama’s healthcare reform, with all its importance, does not change the sacred capitalistic principle whereby healthcare insurance will continue to be marketed to Americans by the private insurance companies. Obama also passed a comprehensive capital market regulation reform, yet as result of various objections was forced to compromise on the drafting of many clauses. This is not an ideal situation, yet it is much better than the monitoring vacuums that existed earlier and prompted the crisis.


Obama faces war of attrition

At the peak of the crisis, many Americans believed that its sudden outbreak would prompt a major shift to the Left in the West in general, and in the US in particular. After all, it was proven that when the free market economy is left unattended, it creates deep crises that only a strong government can curb and resolve. Even the most conservative American newspapers and commentators declared that “all of us are socialists now” two years ago.


All of us? Turns out that’s not the case. Obama indeed was elected president, yet his victory did not mark a viable shift leftward, but rather, a short flash of spontaneity that has already been extinguished. The reason for the turnaround in America’s public opinion has to do with the survivability and rapid organizational capabilities of the groups and institutions that would have lost the most had the turn to the Left materialized. Yet to no lesser extent, the Democratic Left’s messages during and after the crisis also played a role here.


These messages were complex, cautious, analytical, and free of impassioned zeal. The American social-democrats did not celebrate on the ruins of the system, did not come up with magic solutions, and did not join the attacks against the new enemies of the people, that is, the 20-30 top bankers. Instead, leftist economists grimly analyzed the fundamental reasons for the crisis and proposed cures in the form of regulation, monitoring, and long-term structural change.


They avoided populism, thereby leaving the stage for the jealous populist Right. Just like classic fascism in the past, the new Right at this time offers simplistic solutions and a readily available list of targets for mass hatred. The Jews had been replaced as scapegoats by the bankers, tycoons, immigrants, and (quietly) by Afro-Americans too.


The new populist Right is taking over the public discourse and parts of the American media; in the upcoming midterm elections, it may very well take over Congress. Should this happen, Obama’s presidency will be doomed for two years of a domestic political war of attrition, without a decision. That’s bad for America, and for the whole world.



פרסום ראשון: 10.26.10, 00:11
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