Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Obama and Lincoln: Myth and Reality

President Obama’s State of the Union address created its own context and successfully addressed it.

Unfortunately, the context had nothing to do with reality.

Obama portrayed the task before Congress and the government as being an effort to move the nation forward, primarily economically but also strategically.

What American, Democrat, Republican or independent could disagree with that?

The problem is that Congress's real context is political, and it is all about power, not progress.

Sweet reason and cooperation has little to do with keeping, or seizing, power.

Republicans have to disagree to make themselves an alternative. Democrats have to defend themselves and push forward to be distinctive.

In a polarized political world, both can’t win, but both can lose, taking the rest of us down with them.

The reality is that both parties must raise hundreds of millions of dollars in the next year so that they can successfully hold onto or grab more power in 2012.

How do you raise that kind of money. You put forward a program that is “worth it.”

Worth it to whom?

Worth it to those who have the money. That's money to throw at a media-driven political system of attack ads and irrelevancy. Buy the propaganda system and you gain the power.

The political appeal now is not to the people, but to vested interests, primarily multi-national corporation executives and the financial market and hedge fund managers.

Obama’s speech was largely nationalistic myth-making. It shared the theme found in Lincoln’s First Inaugural address in which he sought to heal the ominous and growing divisions between North and South.

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

The words didn’t work for Lincoln, and they aren’t going to work for Obama. We have no “better angels of our nature.” Until “our nature” is fundamentally changed, it will be devoid of angels and inhabited by very human demons — greed and the lust for power.

If there is good news, it’s that President Obama is fully capable of identifying and addressing the problems of reality. The bad news is that if he does, he will be instantly unelectable.

HERE is another commentary that takes a similar, but not identical, tack.

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