Foreshadowed by his roots and bottle-rocket-like rise, Barack Obama’s legacy is one of betrayal and what might have been,… From the outset, he courted and was courted by the pillars of counter-revolution, his very blackness a cloak for his Manchurian mission.
by Jon Jeter
Part 3 - Barack Obama and the counter-revolution
A year to the day after another son of black Chicago, Barack Obama, vacated the White House, his enigmatic legacy can only be understood as a response to this insurrection, and any serious interrogation of his record makes it painfully clear that Obama was the titular head of a counterrevolution, intended to undo the democratizing efforts of a generation of Americans who found their voice in the the transformative post war years.
You cannot, in other words, begin to make sense of the Republic’s first black president without understanding Chicago’s first black mayor, can’t get your arms around what has transpired over the last decade without examining the eight decades that preceded it, and cannot appreciate the arc of America’s political universe without some clarity on both the top-down movement that catapulted Obama into the catbird seat and the bottom-up populist movement that produced Washington.
Washington was everything that Obama was not — reversing public policies steeped in white supremacy, while Obama deepened them. Washington weakened the influence of money in politics, Obama strengthened it. Washington accommodated immigrants and helped transform Chicago into a sanctuary, while Obama deported more than any president in history. Washington rewarded organized labor for its efforts to elect him, Obama gave labor unions the cold shoulder, when he wasn’t trying to bust them altogether. Washington opened space for women, people of color, and even workers in the informal sector trying to make a living any way they could in an enervated economy; on Obama’s watch, the nation witnessed an unemployed black man lynched on a Staten Island street corner merely for selling loose cigarettes.
Washington invoked the anti-colonial theories of Fanon, exalted the messianic quality of the African’s experience in the Americas, and exhorted people of color to never give up the fight against injustice and oppression; Obama invoked Reagan, trafficked in folklore, and scolded black men for feeding their children cold Popeye’s chicken for breakfast. Washington embodied Bessie Smith’s Blues, Obama the mediocre hip-hop of Drake.
None of this was by chance. If Washington’s election is viewed in its most irreducible form — namely, the pinnacle of what the Rev. William Barber characterizes as the nation’s second Reconstruction — then Obama can only be contextualized as the plutocrats’ man in the White House, installed for the singular purpose of preventing a third.