Thursday, June 21, 2012
obama delenda est
Roberto Unger, all his adult life a professor at Harvard Law, posted a video to YouTube a month ago in which he argued that "Barack Obama must be defeated in the coming election."
This is not some Republican booger boy mumbling incoherently about "socialism." Unger's leftist credentials are impeccable, and in addition, he was one of Obama's most influential law school teachers.
"He has failed to advance the progressive cause in the United States," Unger solemnly intones, looking and likely sounding like the Roman Censor Marcus Portius Cato, who concluded each of his Senate speeches with "Carthago delenda est" (Carthage must be destroyed).
"He has spent trillions of dollars to rescue the moneyed interests," says the professor, "and left workers and homeowners to their own devices. He has delivered the politics of democracy to the rule of money. His policy is financial confidence and food stamps."
This broadside from such a platinum-grade source was quick to draw fire from the ranks of the Obamapologistas, and Garry Wills, a heavy-hitting popular historian and former classics professor, wrote a serious rejoinder to Unger's blast. He begins by admitting that Obama's progressivism is "muddy and blunted," but shrugs it off with the kind of hey-nobody's-perfect-it's-a-dirty-game rationalization that makes me wonder why we ever vote for anybody. At all.
Wills defends not just Obama but the Democrats with an argument that boils down to the contention that they're not as bad as the other guys, which is debatable at best. Ask yourself if you're better off now than you were five or six years ago, when Dick and Dubya were co-kings. Except for being spared the King-Kong routine, it's a different day, same old shit.
Garry Wills says "To vote for a Republican means, now, to vote for a plutocracy..." And a Democratic vote means...what? Not plutocracy? Roberto Unger calls it "a policy of hand-holding." In other words, we're getting delivered to the same predators now as we were then, but with a sympathetic kiss.
The rest of Wills's piece is an attack on third-party voters, whom he characterizes as silly idealists attempting to create a perfect politics. But is it asking for perfection to reject this kind of cynicism, and actually believe in something?
When I vote this fall for the Green Candidate, Jill Stein, I know I won't be helping to elect someone, but I'll certainly be helping to un-elect a counterfeit-liberal president, and voting against a party which has lost a lot of people's respect.
"Unless he is defeated," Roberto Unger concludes, "there cannot be a contest for the re-orientation of the Democratic Party as an alternative..." And unless that happens, there'll be nobody anywhere near the top on OUR side, and no one to speak on our behalf.
Note: the video I linked to is just the tail-end of Unger's presentation. YouTube has more complete versions as well.