Monday, February 1, 2010

Your Disappointment In Obama Is Your Teaching Moment

By Carolyn Baker for Information Clearing House

It's the end of the affair, and the stale taste of limerence stays on your tongue. You were promised the sun, moon, and stars, and you desperately wanted to believe it was real, especially after the betrayal of your former relationship of eight years. You had considered escaping-riding off into the sunset to another country where he couldn't find you, or so you hoped. You feared for your children and what he was setting them up for. You feared for yourself in the face of his brutality and intrusiveness into your life. Though you wouldn't admit it, you secretly prayed for assassination or some elaborate exposure that would take him down.

Then along came Mr. Wonderful with his irresistible smile and infectious inspiration. He wooed you with his charm, that smile, and his engaging discourse-so articulate by comparison with the unintelligible babbling you had put up with for eight years. He cared about you and your children. No longer were you alone; like Martin Luther King, he had a dream-a dream congruent with yours, and the passion you both shared for the dream was hypnotic and felt deeply spiritual. You actually thought that he was a messenger sent from another world to rescue you and take you out of the nightmare. He used transcendent terms like "hope", "change", "yes we can." And not only were you totally surrendered to his embrace, but you begged everyone else to do the same. He's our only hope, you told them and yourself. You could scarcely contain your ecstasy when they all chose him in the last hours of the eight years you had all excruciatingly endured.

It was a new day, one year ago at this time. Your sighs of relief could not have been longer or deeper. You and your children were now safe at last.

But today, you ponder reflectively the past year, and what you have now come to understand is that the hero you married is a prisoner. You believed him when he told you he was free and at liberty to make the changes he proclaimed. You trusted him, committed yourself to him, and fought for him. And now you discover that he's betrayed you and that his actions really aren't that divergent from his predecessor's. In fact, he is a prisoner of the same forces that terrorized you for the previous eight years. Fooled again. Betrayed. You sink into despair and depression. You talk to your friends-the others who also believed in him. You feel those old and familiar emotions you felt from 2001-2008 that you thought you'd never have to feel again. "What can we do?" you ask. "What are our options?"

The affair is over, and you don't know whether to cry, rage, get drunk, stay stoned, or rethink leaving the country. You've married a prisoner; you've made another bad choice. You feel bitter and perhaps a little self-loathing. In fact, you want to take a shower because you feel dirty all over.

OK, I could be talking about a real love affair here between two people-one a professional con artist and the other, an enabler. Or I could be talking about a nation of hopeful citizens who wanted to believe so desperately that their new hero would reverse the course set forth by the sociopaths of the previous administration and lead them forward to a better, more humane life, a more bonded community, a saner world for themselves and their children.

What we all must ask ourselves at the end of a relationship that turned out badly-a relationship at the end of which we felt betrayed and disappointed is quite simply: What is my part? Why did I make this choice? What did I not wish to see? What were the red flags I chose to ignore?

This week, Michael Moore was interviewed by Democracy Now and confessed his sense of betrayal and disappointment with Obama's first year. What I heard from him and hear from almost every progressive liberal who expresses similar sentiments is a jaw-dropping naïveté regarding the nomination of candidate Obama and the system he represents. It is the epitome of the definition of insanity: repeating a behavior proven erroneous without exception, time after time, yet expecting that the next time, the result will be different.

Yet both sadly and fortunately, as is true whenever the betrayer shows his true colors, this is a teaching moment for the enablers. And this particular teaching moment is more important, more momentous than any in our national history. Why? Because of what is at stake in terms of the future of the planet, and that future is inextricably connected with a paradigm to which we have been "married" as a people since the birth of our nation.

Last week's Supreme Court ruling lifting limits on campaign financing by corporations was truly the last nail in the coffin of democracy and sealed the fundamental definition of fascism attributed to Mussolini which was simply, "the corporate state." Abramoff rules, and politicians no longer have any reason to function other than corporate whores. As a friend suggested to me a few days ago, members of Congress should now dress themselves in NASCAR uniforms indicating which corporations own them so that we don't need to bother researching the facts but can see them wearing the information on their bodies.

During the 2007-2008 hyperventilating euphoria of progressives regarding the candidacy of Obama, my website, Speaking Truth to Power, was exposing Obama's corporate connections and forecasting that little if anything would significantly change with his election. I was labeled Debbie Downer from Doom and Gloomville and called a conspiracy nut. And so here we are: Revelations from Matt Taibbi and others regarding Goldman Sachs as the largest contributor to Obama's election campaign, an escalation of war in Afghanistan above and beyond the proportions of Bush's war in Iraq, Obama's sanctioning of Bush's policies on torture, Obama's prone position in relation to Wall St. and his choice to surround himself with economic advisors who were directly responsible for creating economic collapse-I could continue ad nauseum. The similitude between the policies of Bush II and Obama are so glaring that last week, progressive journalist, Danny Schechter, asked, "Has Obama Become Bush II?" (I am particularly fond of the Photoshopped image attending the article-a picture worth more than a thousand words.)

In this teaching moment, those disappointed and despairing of their tryst with Obama have a golden opportunity to ask themselves what his betrayal of them reveals regarding the political and economic systems of America and the reality that no politician can even be nominated for the Presidency by the two-party monstrosity, let alone elected, unless that candidate is permanently dressed in his or her NASCAR uniform. If you do not ask this question, you will continue living out the definition of insanity with every national election because you refuse to look deeply at the fundamentals of how the corporate state functions. You will cover its rotting stench with come cloying cologne of "hope" and thereby not only enable your betrayers but waste precious time by not attending to life and death issues.

My 2006 book, U.S. History Uncensored: What Your High School Textbook Didn't Tell You, endeavored first and foremost to leave the reader with an understanding of who owns and operates the American political system. Others have offered their brilliant analyses-Naomi Klein in Shock Doctrine, Mike Ruppert in Crossing The Rubicon, and Kevin Phillips in Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism. Your failed love affair with Obama is now your teaching moment-a critical opportunity to research these four books above and buy out of the putrid, perfidious American political system and buy into making your local community resilient and self-sufficient.

I have long since rejected the American political system and have not voted in any national election since 2000, nor will I again in my lifetime. To do so is to buy into a system that has created what for years I have termed the Toxic Triangle of energy depletion, economic meltdown, and environmental devastation. Every drop of human energy I invest in that system is energy divested from working with my community, my neighborhood, and my loved ones to respond to the current and coming horrors that have been wrought by the three "E's": catastrophic climate chaos, multitudes of environmental refugees, impending global food shortages, the depletion of safe and clean drinking water worldwide, widespread droughts and environmental disasters, unprecedented energy depletion, environmental illnesses and pandemics, and global economic cataclysm.

Visionaries such as Buckminster Fuller, E.F. Schumacher, and Herman Daly have demonstrated that global challenges are most effectively addressed on the local level, where pragmatic responses and options can be created as an alternative to investment in the fantasy of global solutions. That is to say that in the 21st century, "global" is synonymous with "corporate" and therefore guaranteed to exacerbate rather than grapple with the daunting issues confronting the earth community.

Some individuals argue that focusing on re-localization forces us to ignore the global corporatism of an international ruling elite. My response is to ask why we must do one or the other. It is crucial in my opinion to be aware of the powers that be and their machinations, but I must also ask, what realistically, any of us can do to alter or avert their agenda? The answer is nothing; however, there is much we can do to protect ourselves and our communities from it by becoming self-sufficient and resilient.

On Inauguration Day, 2009, I was intrigued as I watched the swearing in of Obama, by the presence of one man standing behind and to the right of Obama--none other than Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia. I doubt that the positioning was intentional, but for me, it was symbolic. It forces me to ask, which interests, which ruling elite families are "standing behind and to the right" of Obama? To what extent is he their creation and theirs alone? For that reason, I chose a photo of that symbolic moment to accompany this article. Take a closer look and think about it deeply. On Inauguration Day, I scoured the internet to find a photo of Rockefeller standing behind Obama during the Oath of Office because I knew its symbolism would later be appreciated by many more Americans than just me. This moment is the moment I had in mind.

Some enablers are capable of changing their behavior and making saner choices. For example, those that have a magnetic attraction to prisoners might find themselves losing interest because they have discovered the deeper meaning of freedom-the ability to create with the support of others, authentic, meaningful responses that do not seduce one into the prison system itself.

This particular affair is over. The "hopium" has worn off. It's time to choose whether you will pursue another affair with another prisoner or walk away from all forms of incarceration, theirs and yours. This is your teaching moment.

CAROLYN BAKER, Ph.D., was an adjunct professor of history and psychology for 11 years and a psychotherapist in private practice for 17 years. Her latest book Sacred Demise: Walking The Spiritual Path of Industrial Civilization's Collapse, is unique in its offering of emotional and spiritual tools for preparing for living in a post-industrial world. Her other books include: Coming Out From Christian Fundamentalism: Affirming Sensuality, Social Justice, and The Sacred (2007) , U.S. History Uncensored: What Your High School Textbook Didn't Tell You (2006) and The Journey of Forgiveness, (2000) She is available for speaking engagements and author events and can be contacted at carolyn (a) carolyn