Democracy, the 'Obama army' and change

PHOTO: Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky recently spoke about the Miraculous Display of Democracy, a.k.a. our election of Barack Obama. I thought this passage was good food for thought:

In Haiti, there was an election in 1990 which really was an extraordinary display of democracy much more so than this.

In Haiti, there were grassroots movements, popular movements that developed in the slums and the hills, which nobody was paying any attention to. And they managed, even without any resources, to sweep into power their own candidate. A populist priest, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. That’s a victory for democracy when popular movements can organize and set programs and pick their candidate and put them into office, which is not what happened here, of course.

I mean, Obama did organize a large number of people and many enthusiastic people in what’s called in the press, Obama’s Army. But the army is supposed to take instructions, not to implement, introduce, develop programs and call on its own candidate to implement them. That’s critical. If the army keeps to that condition, nothing much will change.

Tangentially, the point made by Chomsky relates to the pledge I posted yesterday. Politics and democracy are about organizing around policies. Obama may be more inclined to enact “liberal” policies than John McCain, but that doesn’t get liberals very far.

Obama needs to feel more than a vague responsibility to the supporters that got him elected, he needs to feel like a public servant in the truest sense. Otherwise we’re nothing more than subjects in a dictatorship of the Obama.

Anyways, I’ll get back to watching in horror as Obama picks nothing but Iraq War supporters and financial deregulators for his Cabinet.


  1. Ian

    There are only so many people high up in the Democratic party who are properly qualified for cabinet positions. Also, Obama still has the final say on what his cabinet members do and I buy into (or at least am open minded about) the whole putting people who disagree with you on your cabinet. I truly believe that you are wrong on using the Iraq War vote as a measuring stick. You are talking about public service, and thus serving the will of the people. I thought that the people did want the Iraq War originally. Also, Congress never voted specifically for war. They voted to give Bush the authority to use it were it required. I know that’s a cop out of sorts, but it still falls more on Bush and the GOP for beating the war drums. The real ones to blame for it are the media and their helping to sway public opinion towards supporting the war rather than being objective and critical.

    But overall, I still think its early to pass judgment on Obama. He hasn’t even been sworn in yet. Wait and see how it works out first. He can always kick out cabinet members if they don’t fit into his way of wanting to do things. I personally think he’s saying and doing the things now that he has to do, i.e. trying to build up the confidence of the American people and looking at how to get us moving forward.

  2. Chris

    I’m not passing judgement on Obama. I don’t have buyer’s remorse or anything like that. However I think it’s always better to be overly skeptical than deferential.