One year after Barack Obama’s inauguration as president of the United States the hope his candidacy raised has now given way to dispondency. There is nothing more natural. Of course the election of a "non-white" president in a country where the notion of race is, in Studs Terkel’s words, is a "national obsession" was greeted by virtually everyone as a step forward. But the chickens always come home to roost, and in this case the illusions of change have been so short-lived that it is almost cause for optimism.
In spite of Obama’s attempts to overcome the scepticism inspired by the contrast between his flights of oratory and his pusillaminous decision-making, his deeds speak for themselves: the promises will not be fulfilled. Obama’s eyes have been on the prize, but the prizes are only for himself.
But all this must be placed in large perspective. Obama is only the latest example in forty years of disappointment in African-American politicians who have been elected or appointed to high office. The conclusion that should be drawn is that there is no "color" or "gender line" with respect to political ambition and false promises.
The beginning of the year 2010 is a time of memorial celebrations for Martin Luther King Jr., assassinated in April 1968. It is also exactly 45 years since Malcolm X was assassinated (in February 1965) also with the connivance of the FBI. These were men who spoke out, but more importantly ACTED against racism and imperialism.
Today, we should do everything necessary to communicate one essential message: the government of the United States directly represents capitalist interests and a system of imperial control for which Obama is the chief political spokeperson. However well-meaning and intelligent the man may be, he cannot be expected to modify a system dependant upon the continued domination and exploitation of the world’s people and the material resources over which only they should have control.