Cornel West: “The age of Barack Obama may have been our last chance to break from our neoliberal soulcraft.”


I was delighted when Barack Obama was elected to the presidency in 2008, and it wasn’t only because I viewed him as the lesser of two evils.

Now, eight years later — eight years older, eight years closer — it strikes me as important to be honest about Obama’s legacy. West’s essay nudges us in the direction of a balanced assessment.

I suspect the odds are in favor of posterity viewing Obama’s terms in office as positive, especially when compared with the coming tumult.

Personally, I can’t help thinking that numerous opportunities were lost.

Pity the sad legacy of Barack Obama, by Cornel West (The Guardian)

Our hope and change candidate fell short time and time again. Obama cheerleaders who refused to make him accountable bear some responsibility

 … The president’s greatest legislative achievement was to provide healthcare for over 25 million citizens, even as another 20 million are still uncovered. But it remained a market-based policy, created by the conservative Heritage Foundation and first pioneered by Mitt Romney in Massachusetts.

Obama’s lack of courage to confront Wall Street criminals and his lapse of character in ordering drone strikes unintentionally led to rightwing populist revolts at home and ugly Islamic fascist rebellions in the Middle East. And as deporter-in-chief – nearly 2.5 million immigrants were deported under his watch – Obama policies prefigure Trump’s barbaric plans.

Bernie Sanders gallantly tried to generate a leftwing populism but he was crushed by Clinton and Obama in the unfair Democratic party primaries. So now we find ourselves entering a neofascist era: a neoliberal economy on steroids, a reactionary repressive attitude toward domestic “aliens”, a militaristic cabinet eager for war and in denial of global warming. All the while, we are seeing a wholesale eclipse of truth and integrity in the name of the Trump brand, facilitated by the profit-hungry corporate media.