Obama is coming

As the social democratic revolt — ever closer to open civil war within the Democratic Party — begins to blanket Iowa and New Hampshire — quite possibly Nevada, too , and heading into South Carolina and the Southern follow-on for Super Tuesday — the capitalist class is in both attack mode and a panic. In my own experience with tactical matters, this is an ideal combination for serial blunders. We’ve already seen them recently in the coordinated attack from Warren and CNN, followed by the mega-blunder of Hillary Clinton’s intervention. Both pumped up Sanders’ support and fundraising. It’s a scary thing when your attacks all begin to backfire. It generally means one of two things: your attacks are based on bad intelligence, or you’ve badly underestimated your foe. These two are both operant now, as the shrinking center leaves its leadership with an ever smaller actual popular base. Since 2016 now, we’ve seen them try to cobble together a new center, comprised of low-information elderly voters whose window on reality is network news, and an ideological merger between anti-Trump neoconservative Bush II refugees and the Wall Street servants of the Democratic Party leadership. They’ve been ineffective against Trump for the same reason they have thus far been ineffective in stopping the socialist/social democratic rebellion: they are living in an alternative universe of their own making — a bubble where everyone reassures everyone else that they are right. The essence of bad intelligence. And for the same reason they underestimated Trump, they are underestimating the Sanderistas. Both actually have mobilized popular bases that far, far outnumber those in the bubble.

In recent days, as Sanders continues to rise in the polls, former President Barack Obama has hinted that he may weigh in. And he is definitely the heavy artillery of the center right now, because his popularity among African American voters as well as petit bourgeois centrist white Democrats remains quite firm. Given that South Carolina’s Democratic base is majority Black voters (55%), and that the bases of all the Black Belt states with likewise substantial numbers of African Americans in the Democratic Party, an anti-endorsement by Obama could have an impact, though I’d be shocked if he endorsed Joe Biden. He reportedly never liked Biden very much, and his pick of Biden was a political calculation based on the same now-faulty predicate that centrists cling to today — that there is this smooth continuum between center-left and far-right, equally distributed, and winners have to capture a chunk of the center-right. Biden is a racist, deeply corrupt, a masher, and a water boy for Wall Street . . . and he has been all his life.

This is treacherous political terrain for anyone on the left, especially white folks, because — as I outlined in an earlier post — Obama is more than the man, and more than the former President. From that post:

Surely we remain aware of the ways we who opposed Clinton in 2016 and critically supported Obama in 2008 and 2012 had to call out Obama and Clinton on their dreadful policies on the one hand, while defending them against attacks that were explicitly sexist and racist on the other.

It’s a delicate dance for anyone — especially white folks — to criticize Obama. Obama-as-paragon and Obama-as-symbol are not going away. Because, while it should not be a totalizing idea, it’s still important. And I will say this to the chagrin of some, but white people have no standing to judge on this account. Nonetheless, this has to be understood and further elaborated as part of a shared, and yet unshared, political reality.

What is shared is a ruling class, money-dependency, and the state. What is not shared, or partially-shared, is a great deal of lived experience. Even in our multiracial family, the white folks have a different experience of the world outside our homes.

Where white folk can open up broadsides against Warren’s actions and Biden’s execrable record, white people do not have the standing to go after Obama with the ruthlessness we may employ in going after a Biden. Because in addition to Obama-as-symbol and Obama-as-paragon, President Obama was subjected to a great deal of plain racism from the right. (The same applies to men criticizing women candidates . . . the gendered insults are totally absolutely off limits). A good deal of the heavy lifting is being done in African America by the Black left, who at least have some immunity against the charge of being yet another white person dumping on Obama.

The warning here doesn’t mean to give Obama a pass. That’s not only kind of racially problematic, it plays into a ruling class calculation that weaponizes identity, symbols, and paragons, to silence the left. But it does mean white activists entering into the conversation with some humility and respect. Obama is more than his sins . . . to a lot of people.

Please look over the linked piece here which attempts to unpack the historical complexities of race and elections as they relate to Barack Obama — share if you like.

Meanwhile, do not panic. Obama’s going to Obama, but the Sanderista base keeps expanding, even and especially among non-white voters. One of Joe Biden’s South Carolina supporters — and not a flaming leftist either — Dahli Myers, just switched from Biden to Sanders based not on ideology but that intangible that motivates tactically-defensive voters: electability in the face of a Trump onslaught.

The Obama battering ram might be coming. There’s an army of millions out here ready to brace the gate. Let them come. Let him come . . . because what Warren and Biden discovered is that, while the campaign itself has a cautious approach to the opposition, this movement will hit back, and hit back hard. That’s our job. We’re those Rangers out behind the lines who specialize in skirmishing. And we’re getting pretty good at it. Don’t screw it up. This is a skirmish that has special circumstances . . . our opponent is beloved of many of our allies and potential allies. Hit hard on the facts, but always . . . always acknowledge honestly that you don’t have the same skin in the game as others.