Thursday, July 10, 2008
Obama: The Sleeper Cell Theory

If we look at Obama’s positions on the Israel-Palestine conflict, Cuba, Foreign Spy legislation (FISA), Troop expansion, and his love of ‘free’ markets, the picture that we begin to see is one of a centrist politician. All of these relatively recent developments have made it clear to the world that he is not the change agent he has presented himself as, even in the luke-warm way that liberals define change. So why are there still so many Obama supporters who offer him support unconditionally? Why is there still virtually nothing Obama can do or say that they cannot excuse or overlook as he fights to become the first black president of the United States? The Sleeper Cell Theory is why.

The Sleeper Cell Theory holds that Barack Obama has to lean to the right, even if it contradicts the things that he truly believes, in order to appease a particular interest group and win the election. Once he is elected he will, much like a hijacker, commandeer the oval office and use it as force for progressive/liberal/black causes.

Since most of Obama’s supporters believe this thoery or some variant of it, anything he does which contradicts their view of him as progressive, is labelled 'pragmatic.' Afterall, they say, he doesn't really believe those things, he's just saying that to get elected. Even those who think they can vote him in and pressure him leftward, subscribe to the notion that Barack actually believes in some core progressive values or that he is somehow more willing to work with them (whatever that means). In other words, they think he's their Sleeper Cell. Apparently, for them, the change they can believe in is outlined in the the things he's not saying.

A large part of the appeal that the sleeper cell theory holds, hinges upon the fact that Obama is black. When you are from a group which has historically been oppressed, there is a tendency for people to think that every member of said group is very critical of the system. While I agree that members of oppressed groups ought to be especially critical of the system, believing that things ought to be a certain way does not make them so. Barrack's blackness is no more an indicator of his political positions than Condoleeza Rice’s or Colin Powells is of theirs.

Another reason people gravitate towards the Sleeper Cell Theory is that politicians do habitually lie and pander in order to get into office so it isn't totally irrational to assume that Obama is pandering. However, if you look at the class nature of his pandering, you will understand the picture more clearly. Politicians typically lie to the working class about how they are going to work in their interests and make life better for them, and when they get into office they operate on behalf of the ruling class like every other politician has before them. What makes the Sleeper Cell proponents so crazy is that they believe that Obama is promising the ruling class that he's their guy, and once he gets in office he'll be our guy. This way of thinking contradicts even a rudimentary understanding of the influence that money exerts on our ostensibly democratic process.

The Sleeper Cell Theory is the product of a desperate and politically naïve populace, who know little about capitalism, politics and how change, even minor reforms, occur in society. Thinking they have been left with no alternatives, the progressive/liberal left, either hope that Obama will become who they want him to be, hope that they can pressure him lefward once elected, or have resigned to voting for him as the lessor of 2 evils. In all 3 scenarios, Obama still has a kung-fu grip on their vote and the ruling class wins again. More importantly, the working class is left no better prepared for the next liberal misleader that shows up with promises of hope and change.

However, the silver lining in all of this is that Obama's game of pretend, has energized millions of young people, who have demonstrated, by being suckered into a pseudo-movement, that they desire change and can be won to a real movement. However, these disillusioned Obama supporters will need to understand, rather quickly, that their major mistake was not simply supporting a candidate who pretended to be a liberal reformer. The critical error was in thinking that liberal reforms can change a system that exists to serve the profit interests of a small ruling class, into a system that serves the interests of the working class. That is a huge hurdle to get over, but when enough young people come to that understanding, then whole nature of what ‘change’ means and how it is achieved becomes something radically different.

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