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Chris Hayes on Barack Obama

Chris Hayes reminds that in the platforms of both Democratic candidates, there is still much to be desired:

Neither front-runner is calling for the nation to renounce its decades-old imperial posture or to end the prison-industrial complex; neither is saying that America’s suburbs and car culture are not sustainable modes of living in an era of expensive oil and global warming or pointing out that the “war on drugs” has been a moral disaster and strategic failure, with casualties borne most violently and destructively by society’s most marginalized and—a word you won’t be hearing from either candidate—oppressed.

Nevertheless, he asserts that Obama is special, not in spite of unsettling pleas for unity—which sometimes sound like John McCain’s fetishization of bipartisanship—but because they have the potential to create something new1 in the political structure of the United States.2

1 “Something new” is not actually new, of course, except inasmuch as “new” means “new voters.”

2 Then, Hayes compares Obama to Ronald Reagan, a comparison that I get, but I do not entirely agree with. It is true that, through high-minded rhetoric and fine-tuned platform, Reagan built a conservative coalition that altered the face of politics for the entire last half of the twentieth century. It is that fact that Obama himself appealed to last week. But, like all analogies, this one falls apart if you push it too hard—especially since the comparison is still between something that happened and something that might happen but has not yet. It is worth remembering that Reagan’s coalition was built by fusing the opposite interests of social and fiscal conservatives. That fusion has created a weird, unnatural creature who swears that it is necessary to coddle the rich and the warriors, the least selfless in all of human history, in order to preserve life as a form of selflessness. Such a monstrosity ought to have been aborted, but now, thanks to Reagan, it still walks the earth, pillaging all in its wake.



I loved that article, btw, and almost blogged on it myself last night. It was just about exactly the same argument I would like to think I would have made, caveats included, if I had sat down and thought and wrote about it for a few weeks myself.

Good lord that last sentence was unwieldly.

I often think the same about Hayes. The Nation was smart to hire him.