From hope to fear: 2008 versus 2012

Richard Falk writes: In 2008, Barack Obama rekindled faith in the American electoral process for many, and revived the deeper promise of American democracy, bringing to the foreground of the national political experience a brilliant and compassionate African American candidate.

When Obama actually won the presidency, it was one of the most exciting political moments in my lifetime, and rather reassuring as a sequel to the dark years of George W Bush’s presidency.

Of course, many Americans didn’t share such positive feelings. An important embittered minority believed that the election of a liberal-minded black man was the lowest point ever reached in national politics, challenging this segment of society that now was deeply alienated from the prevailing political current to mobilise their forces so as to win back control of the country on behalf of white Christian Americans, and also a time to indulge such absurd scenarios as an imminent Muslim takeover of the society.

Such polarisation, gave rise to an Islamophobic surge that revived the mood of fear and paranoia that followed upon the 9/11 attacks and was reinforced by evangelical enthusiasm for Israel. In this regard, the Obama phenomenon was a mixed blessing as it contributed to a rising tide of rightest politics in the US that poses unprecedented dangers for the country and the world.

Nevertheless, as mentioned, Obama’s campaign and election was at the time a most welcome development, although not entirely free from doubts. From the outset, my hopes were tinged with concerns, although I did my best to suspend disbelief.

All along I found little evidence that Obama’s leadership would liberate the governing process from its threefold bondage to Wall Street, the Pentagon and Israel. Such a political will to mount such a challenge was never in evidence and never materialised. [Continue reading…]

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