Press "Enter" to skip to content

Illusions of an American Day dreamer

He’s on his way to win his party’s candidature to the White House. Rhetoric or not, there’s definitely more enthusiasm in the body politic in America since Barack Obama’s appearance on the Presidential battle scene. The man might have a better way of warming the hearts of disillusioned voters than Hillary Clinton, he might have some sparks of oratorical brilliance, despite those really boringly repetative epigrams shot from the hip.

Some say the man touches the podium with a silver hammer, every time he addresses supporters. That’s not true. There’s a hammer, alright, but it’s not always silver. It’s a hammer forced together of entirely different elements, now iron, now water. Forced and artificial at times. These shortcomings are gloriously redeemed by Obama’s gift to correctly gauge the sentiments in the crowd and pouncing on it. One ear to the unutterable voices of discontent, the other to Wall Street. The man plays to the gallery and that he does charmingly.

But he has two faces.

To the gallery he says: “When we have got CEO’s making more in ten minutes than ordinary workers are making in a year…then something is wrong.” To the dosh barons he says, in the same speech: “I believe in the free market”. To the anti-war sentiment he says: “It is time to bring our troops home”. And then appeasement to the military establishment: “As your commander in chief my job will be to keep you safe. And I will not hesitate to strike against any who would do us harm. I will do whatever is required.”

These two faces of the man, essential for his sponsors though this is, cannot for long sit side by side with the fictitious harmony it has now; it is about the character the campaign requires in its progression. One strand must become the undisputed trademark of the man. To be successful, he must prove his wholesale allegiance to the free market and its revitalising tool, the armed forces. Equally important, Obama will have to show his willingness to brutally dash the hopes of the many Americans he encouraged to dream his life size dreams.

There’s not going to be anything close to the kind of social change Obama promises enthusiastic supporters and freshly enthused voters across America. When he ascends the steps of the White House, his administration would have inherited a budget deficit of well over $400 billion and this alone will determine economic measures well within the sphere of austerity.

The hot air generated around liberalisation of health care, listening to ‘Main Street, not just Wall Street’, spurious opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will soon enough evaporate when all these dreamers’ lies meet with the penetrating rays of real politics. There’s no way in hell his party will allow him to implement a shade of his rhetoric on change; his funders will be in no mood to bind their profiteering appetites (do you really think Robert Wolf and Paul Volcker funds and endorsed his candidacy as a result of some sudden altruistic vagary?).

The predicament of the American finance barons is that they need Obama, but can he just grow up already and shed these illusions so typical of all dreamers? But they need him. Look around across the political landscape in that bigger-is-better-land-of-God. Come on. Look now. Do you see anyone other than Obama who’d be best placed to tutor the American poor on the need to tighten the belt and sacrifice more for the change they all voted for? Do you? Didn’t think so.

The man will soon be praised for his ‘fiscal and monetary rectitude’…, that is, if it’s translated so that ordinary Americans can understand it, he’ll soon tell ordinary people theeconomy can’t afford their hopes and dreams.


  • Steven Lamini

    Steven Lamini is a specialist adviser in one of the key policy fields troubling modern-day Europe and works across a range of equality fields, advising on policy and strategic approaches to cohesion. His interests are wide and varied, and he writes on world politics, economic issues, current events, mediocrities and lame-duck presidents of countries. He believes that heads should be enlightened, but somehow regrets having such a stubborn principle, for some heads are rather best chopped off. He lives in York.