Saturday, August 23, 2008

Obama: The Progressive We Must Have First

http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/08/18/11047/

The article in the link above was sent to me and in my response I could not help but notice that I was writing something more than just a letter. I do, despite certain critical uncertainties, call myself a progressive. As such, I can see where some in the movement, as stated in the article, are vehemently disappointed in Obama while others hope fervently that recent so-called “compromises” are merely attempts to win and not signs of deficiencies in character. Much like how Bush has not fulfilled his promises to the socially conscious christian (though by now they should know they’re just being used), it may be fair to say that progressives are hoping to not get their own “Bush” who promises big and ends up going places they’ll cringe at.

True, from the perspective of a transcendent god's-eye-view, Obama's vote on the FISA bill was heinous beyond imagining. And while I don't exactly agree with it myself, I can see the expediency with which the decision was made. In point of fact, despite what some liberals say, the lapsing of the bill would not have simply reverted things to what came before. Indeed, Bush et al. would have continued flaunting the constitution as they have been for years now and, without passage of the bill, there would have been no oversight mandated at all while congress pitter-pattered around puffing their chests in false bravado. (I realize the metaphor is largely male-oriented, but it still fits Pelosi perfectly.)

Also, while Obama does have strong ties to a corporate mentality when it comes to the economy and social structure, I'd like someone to point out what other point of view could possibly be advocated for at this time. It'd be like offering Einstein's relativity theory to Mayan priests, they simply wouldn't have understood. For the last 8 years, and before that as well, American's have grown used to seeingthemselves through the lens of a corporate cog. No longer are the cries of unionization being heard, but rather a grudging and grumbling declaration that CEO's, while not deserving their pay all the time,still deserve it much of the time because they're the idea guys. Certainly this ignores the brute fact that the best idea is worthless without people to implement it, but with individualism and future-oriented delusions so prevalent in society today, all hoping that they will surely be the ones to "rise to the top" and claim the next big paycheck, it's little wonder that the reality-based reciprocal relationship of management-worker is ignored for the heirarchical notion of top-down meaning creation. Might may not exactly mean right, but it sure feels good if you have it.

What Obama brings to the political realm is a renewal of America's spiritual malaise, a return to a more socially conscientious spiritualism and a movement away from the miltant religionism of Bush and, increasingly, McCain. In his acknowledgment of religion's interactivity with social norms and constructs, in his acceptance that people need more than simply a pat-on-the-back or a .20 raise or $2a-gallon gas, Obama is the rockstar of intersubjective spirituality. His campaign slogan, "Yes We Can," historic if for no other reason than because it's lasted so long, embodies a camaraderie of spirit that has brought together people from all walks of life and professions to create U-Tube music videos, incite spontaneous youth rallies and even cause energetic calls from college students to their parents about something other than needing money.

Progressivism is an ideal, an idealization of the best of us. While certainly Obama does not embody this perfectly, I think it would, as the article attests, behoove us to realize that none of us do and movebeyond such empty rhetoric to a deeper political dialogue. Obama isn't perfect, but the symbol he wishes to permanently stamp upon the face of politics, that of hope, should remind us that hope springs only from a sense of community and the spiritual transcendence that all of us, to various degrees, strive to connect with.