Lest you think that I think Obama’s above criticism, there’s an interesting post at Reality Sandwich that echoes some of my own thoughts: that Obama’s a great and hopeful figure, but also merely fixing a system that is intrinsically damaging:
Because the president we elected -- out of so much hope for a definitive break with what came before -- is not who he seems. It's true that unlike the previous inhabitant of the White House (remember him?), Barack Obama is sane, intelligent, and mature. He's responsive to what others think. He hopes to institute real change in education, health care, the environment.
But even with his great charisma and silver tongue, he's a proper soldier for the system which is ravishing the planet. As he said in his inauguration speech in January, already aware of the huge financial mess he was inheriting, "We will not apologize for our way of life."
What do these words mean? They mean that the mall-i-zation of the planet will continue. They mean that the commercialization of all of life will not stop. They mean that our massive so-called footprint will never be substantially downsized.
All Obama’s doing is stopping the bleeding – I always thought this way, even when I was obsessed with the election and seeing him elected. When I say obsessed, I mean I was glued to every single detail to an insane degree. But Obama’s tasked with rescuing a system that’s killing the planet. It’s better to have him in power so that the degradation of this country occurs more gradually, but he may do it without the sweeping change that’s needed.
Right now we at least have someone bent on saving the system rather than someone actively trying to destroy it. The irony is the very far left wants to see the system destroyed as well, and if McCain/Palin were in power, that’s very well what could have happened. So it’s complicated, but better to have someone in charge of the country who represents the country’s better instincts, than the idiot cowboy instincts of the past administration.
I do think that Obama’s a progressive – a pragmatic progressive. The uptick of 20,000 soldiers in Afghanistan shows his military mettle so that he can get other things passed. A left wing agenda cannot happen overnight or else there would be revolt from moderates – and right now Obama has moderates – so he has to do this as death by a thousand cuts. That doesn’t justify increased military action, but it at least explains it. The question is if he’ll ever go far enough with progressive legislation, and chances are probably not because too much has to be done in eight years.
The other question is if progressive legislation will even work. The world’s a drastic fucking mess. Even if we were able to solve the world hunger crisis, find a cure for cancer, or other utopian scenarios, this would only hurt the planet’s ecology even further by ballooning an already-problematic population problem. One of the tragedies I write about in The American Book of the Dead is that depopulation is necessary to save the planet and save the human species. In a demented way, the Bush Administration’s apocalyptic policies, which had no regard for the long-term prospects of human life, make sense if we’re talking about needing to totally rearrange our current civilization. Bush almost killed capitalism – something that has been raping the planet. Obama’s mainly trying to make sure the current one survives, and if this system survives, the human race may not.
The apocalypse, in some sense, needs to happen because it’s going to come anyway via environmental collapse. As the Cheney character says in my novel, it’s “burning away the forest to save the trees.’” Killing off the population before that population kills us off via overuse of resources. I don’t believe this needs to happen – or at least I hope to not believe it – but the logic does make sense. Hopefully there’s enough time left that slow progress can fix what ails us. At the very least, it’s comforting to have someone who’s not willfully destructive at the helm, and can speak a clear sentence, rather than people who had such a limited regard for human life.