Barack Obama, I Want a Divorce

My honeymoon with the Democrats has long since passed. Our relationship has turned sour, and I’m in no mood to marry again.

Anyone who has ever gone through a divorce or marital separation knows how traumatic it can be. Marriages are supposed to be forever, but then life intrudes. First, the blissful honeymoon when it’s unthinkable to be apart from the loved one. Then the middle doldrums when spine-tingling doubts arise followed by flimsy excuses to oneself, self-rationalisations, for the other’s bad behaviour. Love weakens but loyalty remains. (For some of us, constancy is stronger than lust.) We soon grow accustomed to abuse, insults, betrayals and infidelity to the marriage vows. After all, where would we go, what would we do, if we freed ourselves from the bondage of a bad relationship? It’s too terrifying to think about, so we don’t.

That’s pretty much where my liberal friends and I are today with the Democrats and Obama administration spiralling out of control and showing every sign of wanting to do us harm before it flames out. We, like battered husbands and bruised wives, feebly grab at straws of hope. The straws are real, too. There may be only an inch of difference between Republicans and Democrats but real people in a real world live by that inch. For example, north of Los Angeles, where I live, an Obama-reinvigorated Environmental Protection Agency is seriously probing a toxic scandal in the mainly Latino hamlet of Kettleman where carelessly dumped corporate chemicals may have led to babies being born with facial disfigurements. The Republicans wouldn’t have bothered. That’s no small thing for the people concerned. And Obama appointed a known workers’ friend in Hilda Solis as secretary of labour in place of Bush’s Elaine Chao who never saw a union she didn’t despise. In other words, our Harvard professor in the White House has done something.

But the fact remains he is a war president with blood on his hands like Lyndon Johnson – only without LBJ’s guts and arm-twisting talent. Obama leads a dysfunctional, cowardly and bribable Democratic party establishment, personified by his mean-minded economic gurus Larry Summers and Tim Geithner, and his frazzled secretary of state the war-loving Hillary Clinton. The few Democratic politicians who stand up for sanity – against the war, for a public health option – are like Florida’s Alan Grayson and Ohio’s Dennis Kucinich – marginalised by the media and their own colleagues as lunatics or, in Rahm Emanuel’s immortal phrase, “retarded”.

In a bad marriage, if we’re lucky, a sad, angry, unwelcome realism takes over and an existential fear invades our soul. But we do not want to be alone in a loveless world. A divorce often means being cast out into psychological darkness, exile from the “mainstream”, the loss of (and even abuse from) friends, a terrifying sense of isolation and inadequacy. So, stuffing our ears and blinding our eyes to our own victimisation, we recommit to the relationship. We continue to deny, deny, deny. Life goes on, diminished and undignified. Soul-suicide.

But now I want a divorce from the Democrats, the “party of the people” versus the Republicans who with a few honorable exceptions are the party of cruelty. Are there some good Democrats? You bet. Are they outnumbered by callow, fearful Democrats? You bet.

I don’t care that at the moment there’s nowhere to go and hardly anybody to cheer for.

Like the Tea Partiers I’ve had it up to here. But as a taker of GI Bill, social security and Medicare benefits, and as a child of the New Deal which put my unemployed mother and father to work, I know that only big government, as dangerous as it can be, can help pull us all out of the shit – yes, the same government that by deregulating and bailouts pushed us into it. (I wonder how many populists, screaming about “socialist” government, are only too happy to take their portion of federal money as I am.)

I wish I could get behind Ralph Nader or the Green party or Cynthia McKinney or even Ron Paul for his antiwar stance. But having just split from my heart’s desire – the Democrats – I’m in no mood to marry up again. I’m caught in a vise between a lingering wish to be “effective”, not “waste my vote”, and a Huckleberry Finn itch to light out for unknown territory.


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