19 June 2008

All the Shakespearoes?

Grumble, grumble.

No matter what road you take in politics you always end up feeling dirty and a bit used. In the Lisbon referendum although i was delighted by the outcome, I felt slightly uncomfortable standing vocally on the same side as Sinn Fein, Libertas, Right to Life & Youth Defence, Dana, Gay Byrne and Jim Corr, and having my 'No' vote lumped in by the media with the various fringe groups protesting against the mythical introduction of abortion, conscription, higher taxes, Spanish fishermen and giant humanoid lizards ruled over with an iron fist by Prince Philip. My vote was, along with that of Joe Higgins and a number of Unions, a recognition and rejection of the Treaty as a further erosion of worker's rights.

The US election continues to follow a similar path for me. Hot on the heals of the appointment by Obama of Jason Furman, a Chicago school economist trained at the lap of Milton Freidman, to head his economic team, and the hiring of Patti Solis Doyle, Hillary's former campaign manager as head of the team to select his VP candidate (replacing the disgraced Jim Johnson who resigned a week ago over financial irregularities arising from the sub-prime mortgage crises), comes his decision today to forgo Public Funding of his general election campaign.

As a donor I received an email from the campaign a few minutes before the press release hit the wires, directing me to a video in which Obama explains that:
It’s not an easy decision, and especially because I support a robust system of public financing of elections. But the public financing of presidential elections as it exists today is broken, and we face opponents who’ve become masters at gaming this broken system. John McCain’s campaign and the Republican National Committee are fueled by contributions from Washington lobbyists and special interest PACs. And we’ve already seen that he’s not going to stop the smears and attacks from his allies running so-called 527 groups, who will spend millions and millions of dollars in unlimited donations.
Charitably you can argue that given the success he has seen raising so much money in $10,$20 and $100 donations from ordinary voters, he believes that he can continue to draw upon this well and compete head-to-head with the corporate donors that will be funding John McCain. He knows that McCain will not limit himself to public funding, so for him to do so would seriously damage his chances of victory.

The trouble is that this is the third turn away from the culture of his Primary campaign within a matter of days since securing the nomination, and while the Democrats will present it as him unifying the party, embracing all members under the great big tent that it is, and doing whatever it takes to win the White House, I can't help but feel a little betrayed, not by Obama, but by myself.

At the end of the day he is just a politician, and a product of the two-party system. To win he must compete within its rules, and pander to its needs. Any hope that I placed that this campaign would be a mould breaker were foolish, for while I still believe he is the best candidate in a generation and will continue to support him, I forgot for one happy moment that US politics is a closed shop, that only serves the interests of the Oligarchy. Every now and then they let someone rattle the cage, but the cage itself is never opened.

Naomi Klein on Obama's Chicago boys
Jim Johnson dropped
Sollis Doyle hired
Obama's Public Funding announcement


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