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Where is the real hope for change in America?

Adam Parsons
09 November 2012

What should we make of President Obama's election victory this week? Only one thing is for sure: the intense focus on the bombast of politicians is somewhat misplaced, and we still await the public to rise up in a concerted call for sharing and justice.

Was it good news, bad news or not-much-news-at-all with the U.S. election result this week? That will of course depend on your perspective. While many pundits criticised the lack of attention to climate changeby either candidate in the frenzied debates and endless electioneering, many others argued that actually, despite all the rhetoric and vitriol, there is not really that much to celebrate following Obama's victory.

As Seamus Milne pointed out in The Guardian after the TV debate on foreign policy, Obama's position is all too similar to the Republicans, with both demonstrating unconditional commitment to Israel and a determination to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons at all costs. Obama remains far from a pacifist and, contrary to popular opinion, he has explicitly stated that the war in Afghanistan will continue. Let alone his continued sanctioning of extrajudicial killing with drone attacks.

On domestic issues, Jeffrey St. Clair points out that President Obama - a "committed neoliberal, a closeted agent of austerity" - will soon begin to slash away at Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and "the last frail fabrics of the federal social welfare programs" in response to the looming fiscal crisis. Is this the right direction for strengthening and scaling up the sharing economy, as defined in STWR's recent  report?

If Obama was truly committed to sharing resources even within his own country, there is no mistaking where he could start: by slashing the bloated U.S. military budget, perhaps, and instead spending the money on jobs, schools and health. But there was no mention of redistribution in Obama's $2 billion election campaign, and clearly no chance whatsoever that the word ‘sharing' was ever going to replace ‘hope' or ‘change' as the Democrats' T-shirt slogan.

But is Obama entirely to blame when the wider public has yet to rise up in a concerted call for sharing and justice? Or is the intense focus on the bombast of mainstream U.S. politicians somewhat misplaced, when all their efforts are geared to maintaining an outmoded imperial order that is now coming to an end?

As STWR's Mohammed Mesbahi wrote at the time of Obama's first election win in 2008, the real ‘hope' for ‘change' in America does not involve mass public mobilisation around a moribund election campaign. What we truly await, he wrote, "is for the American people to show the world, on a scale never seen before, how public opinion can influence the creation of a new social order from the ashes of a failed, unjust and obsolete economic system."

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