“Despite their solid achievements and the satisfactions which they derived from their way of life, there was always an atmosphere of unreality surrounding the isolated life of the small black middle class. …urbanization and the increasing occupational differentiation of the Negro population undermined the privileged position of the old middle class. But more important still, the compensations which ancestry, puritanical morals, and especially education, provided in a hostile white world were inadequate in the life of the new black bourgeoisie.”
“Having become less isolated and thus more exposed to the contempt and hostility of the white world, but at the same time cherishing the values of the white world, the new black bourgeoisie with more money at their disposal, have sought compensation in the things that money can buy. Moreover, their larger incomes have enabled them to propagate false notions about their place in American life and to create a world of make-believe.”
– E. Franklin Frazier, in “Black Bourgeoisie”
Because of the illusory affluence of conspicuous consumption and the presence of the largest black middle class in history, some of us have bought into the lie of American democracy and have become captivated with the idea that we can somehow elect a black president. We have bought into the rhetoric of hope and the audacity of bourgeois hubris.
Sistah Obama was right when she said “If Barack doesn’t win Iowa, it’s just a dream.” It is a dream because Political Scientist Michael Parenti describes the Presidency as nothing more than a bait and switch game intended to pull the wool over the eyes of the public while slavishly serving the powerful. We have studiously avoided seeing that Barack Obama has signaled his intention to serve the powerful in everyway he can.
He rejects reparations, played footsie with Chicago’s corrupt Daley Machine and ignored its police brutality, caved to the Israel Lobby, voted for Condi Rice, equivocated on war funding (voting for it before he was against it), and his health care plan isn’t universal. The only thing he hasn’t done is walk up and down the streets of America peddling his ass like a prostitute.
Barack Obama’s presidential campaign is a black middle class fantasy, an idealistic delusion of epic proportions that those outside of the black community have hijacked to achieve their own malevolent ends. Most Americans will never grasp the significance of our nation’s role as an imperial power that enforces a bloody and repressive economic and political hegemony upon the world’s colored peoples. They have been uniformly brainwashed by patriotic propaganda advanced by a greedy and self-interested corporate media and indoctrinated by historical revisionists that omit America’s history of genocide, slavery and discrimination.
The President is the guardian of our undemocratic system and the character of the presidency perverts any good intention. Parenti writes, “If presidents tend to speak one way and act another, it is due less to some inborn flaw shared by the varied personalities who occupy the office than to the nature of the office itself. Like any officeholder, the president plays a dual role in that he must satisfy the major interests of corporate America and at the same time make a show of serving the people. He differs from other politicians in that the demands and expectations of his office are greater and therefore the contradictions deeper. …Like other politicians, perhaps more so, the president is caught between the demands of democracy and the powers of plutocracy.”
No matter what set of progressive policies our president claims fealty to, his responsibility to the capitalist power structure will always be greater and his response to the entreaties of its emissaries shall forever be swifter. Placing Barack’s narrow behind in the oval office won’t change this dynamic of power.
The futility of this delusional presidential exercise is borne out by poll numbers, which reveal that the majority of African Americans are still with Hillary. During the period of sky-high poll numbers and uncritical acclaim, Obama’s poll numbers with the black community were in the toilet. Now that the newness has worn off the Safe Negro and whitefolks adoration and worship has cooled, blackfolks have started to take a second look. He ain’t never gonna get off that racial seesaw and it will eventually become his undoing as a candidate.
We have the means through which to control a great deal that happens to and within our communities but haven’t because of a lack of vision. That will not change because Barack Obama stepped onto the scene. The relative weakness of our political leadership and the precariousness of our economic strength keep the enormous power of the world’s wealthiest black middle class in check.
In this respect, little has changed since Dr. Frasier wrote, “Since the black bourgeoisie is composed chiefly of white collar workers and since its small business enterprises are insignificant in the American economy, the black bourgeoisie wields no political power as a class in American society. Nor does the black bourgeoisie exercise any significant power within the Negro community as an employer of labor. Its power within the Negro community stems from the fact that middle-class Negroes hold strategic positions in segregated institutions and create and propagate the ideologies current in the Negro community.”
“In the political life of the American society the Negro political leaders, who have always had a middle-class outlook, follow an opportunistic policy. They attempt to accommodate the demands of Negroes for better economic and social conditions to their personal interests which are tied up with the political machines, which in turn are geared to the interests of the white propertied classes.”
Ultimately, it is the white power structure, not us, that will benefit from the next presidency, whichever candidate is selected. In the unlikely event that I am wrong and an Obama presidency materializes, those whose mission it is to turn back the clock on social progress will have all the ammunition they need to destroy forever the possibility of progressive change. His election will be hailed from coast to coast as a triumph over racism and our legacy of discrimination when it will be anything but.
It’s time to wake up from our middle class fantasies and realize the ideological cul-de sac American politics is and do something about the unequal power relationships that disadvantage us socially, economically, and politically.