Obama: What Blacks and Progressives Have Bought Into

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Blacks and so-called progressives have abandoned their obligation to demand anything from Barack Obama. Especially among African Americans, there is a refusal to even listen to Obama's actual policy positions on matters such as military spending and troop strength or subprime lending disaster relief - issues that go to the very heart of his often profoundly unprogressive policy stances. This historical abdication of responsibility to make politicians accountable has already rendered progressives of all races, irrelevant. Left and Black "leaders" claim they will get around to challenging Obama later on - after he's ensconced securely in the Oval Office. They know nothing - or pretend to know nothing - about mass social behavior. Grass roots action cannot be switched on and off. Once the last vestiges of a movement are shut down, it takes many years to start it up again.

Obama: What Blacks and Progressives Have Bought Into

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

 "Blacks and progressives have neutered themselves."


ObamaWithFlagBlack Agenda Report has lo ng held that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are identical, politically. Both are associated with the Democratic Leadership Council, the corporate rightwing of the Democratic Party. Clinton proudly upholds the DLC banner, while Obama claims to not be a member, but behaves exactly as if he were one.


Both Obama and Clinton have repeatedly told us, if we were really listening, that they plan to defend America's so-called "interests" in the world - however the U.S. defines those interests. In real-world language - as opposed to American double-speak, code-speak, and warlike nationalism-speak - both are imperialists who call for huge increases in military manpower, that will inevitably lead to more wars of aggression. Hopefully, neither is as crazy as John McCain, who is busy trying to convince Republican voters that he's itching for a fight with anybody, anywhere, for any reason. But these are only cosmetic differences among imperialists - differences in tone, not substance.

Our primary concern is the effect this electoral season has had on masses of Blacks and those non-Blacks that consider themselves progressive. We have witnessed a capitulation to the DLC-inspired Obama campaign on the part of white so-called progressives. African Americans are now near-universally in the Obama camp. Both groups imagine they are witnessing a "movement" in the making, when in fact there is no such thing as a movement being born in a hundreds-of-millions of dollars electoral campaign. Rather, progressives of all races have abandoned movement politics, thus ensuring that Obama remains unchallenged by the Left, free to move further to the Right as a general election campaigner and in the White House.

"Especially among African Americans, there is a virtual refusal to allow issues to intrude on Obama's parade."

This wholesale surrender to Clintonism with a Black face and winning smile cannot be justified on any substantive political basis. Therefore, progressives find themselves with no choice but to "hope" that progressive "change" will somehow occur, despite the fact that Obama has laid out positions that are anti-progressive by any measure. Especially among African Americans, there is a virtual refusal to allow issues to intrude on Obama's parade.

There was only a remnant of a movement left in the United States, before Barack Obama's phenomenal rise. Black and white progressives claim they are prepared to resume agitation after Obama's election - that they will rev up the movement once again if they discover the new president turns out to be what he has repeatedly promised to be: a corporate Democrat committed to imperial policies abroad, who shuns any analysis or demand that does not conform to his own "race neutral" - in practice, "race blind" - domestic policies. If progressives truly believe they can turn mass, grassroots politics on and off, like a switch, they are delusional. Large groups of human beings don't act that way. Barack Obama's honeymoon will surely last for years, no matter what crises he mishandles or provokes.

Blacks and progressives have neutered themselves. They have dropped out of struggle, and made themselves irrelevant by refusing to make Obama accountable for his own policy positions and statements. It will be a very, very long journey back home.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].