The 2016 Election’s Obama Problem

was looking for love in all the wrong places
Looking for love in too many faces
Searching your eyes, looking for traces
Of what I’m dreaming of  –Waylon Jennings

Why do the Republican presidential debates resemble world wrestling matches without all the formality and politeness?

Why do the Democratic presidential debates always end up with the two candidates deeply respecting the other’s admirable efforts to destroy everything decent in the world?

Because the Republicans are going after voters who are thoroughly disgusted with the U.S. government, including the man running it, Barack Obama, while the Democrats are going after voters who are thoroughly disgusted with the U.S. government but in love with the man running it.

Senator Bernie Sanders explains that we need the opposite of what Obama’s been doing, then claims to agree with Obama. Why? Because he wants to win over voters who think exactly that, who believe that Obama has done everything wrong but who love Obama despite, or even because, of his disastrous conduct. Sanders knows that many of the same voters feel (that’s the key word) the same way about Hillary Clinton.

Pick up a book called I [Heart] Obama by Erin Aubry Kaplan. In it, she explains that she and others she’s asked love Obama for his looks, his voice, his poise, his attitude, his facial expressions, and his skin color. She and others she quotes fell in love with him before they’d learned anything about his political performance. And whatever they later learned entirely confirmed their sentiments. If he did something terrible, they imagined he’d tried to do something good. If he failed, they loved his failure and blamed it on his racist opponents. Because racists hate him, one must love him, they feel.

Kaplan hoped for change, but when Obama didn’t meet her expectations she condemned anyone so misguided as to complain. Then she blamed the public for not rising up and complaining, without which Obama couldn’t very well be expected to do anything, could he? But even when Obama didn’t do the right thing, you could be sure he knew what the right thing to do would have been. And that was good enough. Hell, that was better. And if he lied about it, that was better than truth. Even his bullshit smelled sweet. Kaplan writes:

“Does the fact that  his ‘Hope/Change’ campaign was more a matter of brilliant branding than anything else diminish the fact that hope and change are exactly what black folks need?”

Perish the thought!

Racists would even object to Obama murdering people. Not the Obamaphiles Kaplan quotes: “‘I know it’s hard for people to look at the drones, to look at why he doesn’t do this thing or that thing,’ says Ward. ‘But the tightrope is one that he has to walk. I have a friend in the South who says she’s seen bars with calendars on the walls that count down the days to when Obama gets assassinated.'”

Get it? Racists want to murder Obama, so he should go on murdering all those dark-skinned foreigners, and you should shut up about it and love him even if you hate what he’s doing.

Do the old people and black people backing Hillary Clinton in primaries associate her with Obama and his lovable odiousness? Or do they associate her with the Democratic Party and identify with that party as they might with a racial group? Or do they want to feel the warm tingles of watching a woman, instead of a man, pilot the empire over the cliff? Are good people going to double down on tokenism while the fascists prepare to play their trump card?

The answer is, of course, not to elect all white guys. The answer is to end the election obsession, and build a movement. And when we must have an election, elect the best person. Democrats need to stop loving the people who have created everything Sanders wants to fix. Obama and Hillary do not love you back, my friends. They’re using you. They have nothing but contempt for you. And if the morning ever comes, you’ll hate yourself in it.

Republicans, of course, need to stop bowing down before a fascist clown who openly tells them that he only loves himself and they should love him too. For him, you are beneath contempt, unworthy even of notice. You’d better hope the Democrats don’t run the woman you hate against him, because then he’ll be president, you’ll be the woman scorned, you’ll hate yourselves more than the Democrats hate you, and most people will give up hope for the electoral system — which will of course turn out to be even worse than falling for false hope with a nice smile.

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  • Kevin Dann

    What an extraordinary and elegant diagnosis of the disease, and in one terse final paragraph, a superb expression of the cure. Bravo and thank you David!