Peacemaking: Consensus or Submission?

by Alicia Ni'Tracy

[Nat’s article on this topic: “Obama: ‘Peacemaker’ at Harvard Law School Basketball Courts“]

The 2008 Presidential Election was the first national and presidential election in which I voted.  I remember that, when Barack Obama’s victory was announced, I was filled with painful emotions.  On one hand, I was glad about what it said about the public in regard to George Bush Jr’s performance: I believe it said the public was not pleased and needed a break from being under a Republican administration.  On the other hand, I also knew that much of the population saw Barack Obama as their saving grace – salvation from being a warring nation, from being a racist nation, from having a failing economy slumping further down the global ladder of national success.  And I knew, in the sense that I believed it as fact, that Obama was none of these things.  I knew he was another American president – another well-to-do man from an upper economic and social class who would not fight for the needs of the general populace.

Throughout the past three years, I have not been surprised.  The sadness and dread and heartbreak I felt that night, feeling the weight of what my vote had contributed to, have numbed somewhat but have grown into an acceptance that Obama represents the trained American desire for the McDonald’s version of a hamburger, for the “banana flavored” candy instead of the banana, for the thoroughly marketed and manufactured version of the real thing.

Obama is said to have been a peacemaker on the Harvard Law School basketball courts.  I see parallels between that history and his political behavior.  He regularly attempts to appease the absurd demands of the Republican political class.  He compromises the success of his initiatives to satisfy politicians who desire to maintain the power of the economic oligarchy.  He does not appear to fight for the needs of the general populace, let alone for what he believes their needs to be.

I feel somewhat divided about his efforts toward diplomacy.  I am a big advocate of consent: personal consent, physical consent, social consent.  Consent on a larger scale translates to consensus – if everyone’s consent is to be respected, we must reach and maintain consensus.  Consensus is not everybody being of one mind, consensus must be formed through discussion, it is an idea that all members of a group develop together and which all members can accept without blocking it.  Yet I see Obama achieving no success in mutual development of a health system that the Republican politicians would tolerate, which is just one area in which this failure seems evident.  Consensus does not appear to be occurring in this United States government.  I’m kicking myself for resenting Obama’s unsuccessful attempts to reach consensus between the Democrat and Republican parties, because as much as I prefer consensus, he’s being too submissive and the result isn’t getting the populace it’s comprehensive healthcare.

Even while Barack Obama is submissive in U.S. internal politics, he contributes to the continuation of war overseas even though, in his campaign for the presidency, he presented himself as desiring the end to the war in Iraq.  The war in Iraq is not over, having lasted eight years as of March 20, 2011.  Additionally, U.S. troops have been pushed into other Middle-Eastern countries such as Afghanistan and Iran, under “police actions” during Obama’s presidency.

How far does Obama’s peacemaking extend ?  I believe it does not extend past his attempts to cooperate with the Republicans, or past the desires of America’s oligarchs to maintain a globalized industrial economy – not past that to the rights of those native to the lands we draw oil from in the Middle-East, or to the lives of those Americans sent to fight to prolong that exploitation.  It looks to me as though his peacemaking does not extend past his ego, his need to be seen as a cooperative politician.  Obama does not appear to fight for the needs of the vast majority of the American public.

I would like to have leaders who seek consensus when it’s actually possible, yet know when to alter that tactic because some jerks are throwing temper tantrums and aren’t actually cooperating with the consensus process.

– Alicia Bryan

21st Century Woman


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