Insight Analytical‘s Friday post on Obama’s ongoing “Unity” campaign linked to an article written by Barry Grey for WSWS back in January 2008 (before the New Hampshire primary and in response to a conference on bipartisan unity). As IA notes, Grey’s article raises a critical issue. Titled “The U.S. Elections: In whose interest is the campaign for bipartisan unity?”, Grey writes:
“The demand, made in the name of the American people, for an end to what [ex-Democratic Senator, just-named-Obama-advisor Sam] Nunn called “rampant partisanship” is as brazen as it is absurd. What is an election about—if it is anything more than an empty ritual—if not the airing of political differences and the advancement of competing programs?
It is all the more ludicrous in a country where political discussion is suppressed as in no other “democracy” and the substantive differences between the two officially sanctioned parties are increasingly negligible. The Democratic 110th Congress is a testament to the fundamental unity of the two parties on all issues—war, the further enrichment of the financial aristocracy, the assault on democratic rights—that are critical to the American ruling elite.
The demand for bipartisan unity serves to obscure the objective reality of a society that is riven by class and social divisions. The agents of Wall Street who preach the gospel of “unity” have good reason to suppress any genuine political discussion. They preside over a country where the concentration of wealth has reached unprecedented levels, with the top 1 percent of families owning 40 percent of the nation’s net worth. And the economic disparities continue to grow.
The “unity” demanded by Messrs. Boren, Hagel & Co. is essentially unity of the corporate elite against the working class…”
This call for unity, backed by Big Media and Obscene Wealth, has swallowed up the Democratic Party, chewed away any platform for multiple voices, and spat it out in the willing form of “frontrunner” Barack Obama. Newbies, particularly if they can be seen to “represent” certain marginalized constituencies, are always excellent fodder for the ruling class.
We are not all the same and we are not all equal. We are multiple voices, living in multiple worlds with multiple ideologies, working towards multiple dreams. Democracy is the persistent struggle to keep these all alive, visible, and contemporary. If we give this up, as Obama preaches, would we not be participating in the construction of a new hegemonic order, the same neoliberalism behind China’s Olympic slogan “One World One Dream”? Monsters often have many heads.
Grey ends in a depressing note:
“The campaign for bipartisanship thus has a distinctly antidemocratic and sinister aspect. It is an effort to discipline the political squabbling within the US ruling elite in order to face a far greater danger: an eruption of social conflict produced by the increasingly desperate conditions facing the vast majority of the American people.”
With a population of over 300 million people, we don’t just need unity. We desperately need more political platforms and agonistic arenas within which to debate and negotiate our differences.