‘For All’? Not so much.
Posted on September 20, 2012 at 8.44 pm
In a new campaign called “For All,” Obama supporters are encouraged to “[c]hoose one of your reasons for voting and write it on your hand, then pledge to vote.”
While some have called the whole hand gesture thing creepy, I see it as a good marketing idea. After all, this is the age of We Are the 99% and Pet Shaming — the whole have-supporters-submit-photos-with-text-following-a-strict-format thing works for online marketing, and it works well. I have no doubt that we’ll see “For All” photos on Buzzfeed any time now (if they’re not there already).
For me what’s creepy is the brazen hypocrisy of the theme of this project: “For All.”
The reference, of course, is to the end of the Pledge of Allegiance — the “with liberty and justice for all” bit. And the implication is that liberty, justice, and other good things like cleaner energy, as the back of Ms. Johansson’s hand declares, will be available for all under a second Obama term…not just the few rich people Mitt Romney invites to his weekend clam bakes.
That’s a great message, but it’s not one which meshes with Obama’s actual record in office.
Glenn Greendwald has a great book out which has an incredibly appropriate title for this discussion: With Liberty and Justice for Some. If you’re not familiar with Greenwald’s work, he’s a civil liberties litigator and prolific writer whose online home was Salon until he very recently departed for the UK’s Guardian.
[The book] is a damning indictment of America’s two-tiered justice system in which political and financial elites are vested with virtual legal immunity while everyone else is punished for the most trivial of legal infractions. Instead of the law being used to protect those most vulnerable, it has instead, especially in the past four decades, turned into a weapon to protect the powerful from prosecution for their many crimes, and these crimes are outlined in the book with shocking effectiveness.
To give an example on which Greenwald spills a lot of ink, one of the defining features of Obama’s promise of change in 2008 was a return to the rule of law in contrast to the Bush era. He specifically indicated in debate with Hillary Clinton that he would investigate Bush Administration officials for potential war crimes. Yet, even before he took office, Obama indicated that he would not actually pursue the matter. “Nine days before Obama’s inauguration,” Greenwald writes, “the New York Times published an article headlined ‘Obama Reluctant to Look Into Bush Programs.’” And, indeed, the Bush torturers have gotten away scott free.
That’s not the only instance in which “For All” has been proven a flat-out lie in an Obama Administration policy vs. Obama Campaign rhetoric match-up. In an interview on the book, Greenwald comments [emphasis added]:
Obama has displayed no interest whatsoever in holding elites accountable for criminality: not just political actors, but financial elites as well.
If anything, it’s even more unlikely that he would hold elites accountable in his second term…by shielding those who came before him, Obama ensures that he can commit crimes with impunity as well. That’s why all elites—political, financial, media—are motivated to defend and preserve this lawbreaking license for their class.
For further examples of the lack of equal treatment under Obama, consider his assassination without trial of an American citizen and his innocent, 16-year-old son.
Consider his endorsement of additional drug war spending, a failed program which disproportionately targets minorities and the poor. (Is Lindsay Lohan in jail? No? Ok, I think the point is made.)
Consider Bradley Manning, who was held naked and alone in a tiny cell for up to 23 hours a day while the people responsible for the crimes shown in the documents he leaked walk free.
Consider how eager Obama is to retain the power to indefinitely detain Americans without charge or trial.
Consider what would happen if you committed fraud and also what happened to the Wall Street execs who committed fraud (I don’t have a link for that, because nothing happened except that they got tons of free money).
However nice the pictures may look and however well this campaign may work, Obama is not “For All.” Not even close.