Perhaps one way to understand Obama’s relationship to the Elites is for us all to stop either whimpering or recriminating and recognize that he, like all Presidents, merely rents the house that the Elites own. He can make some limited repairs, some customizing to suit his understanding of the world and what’s politically important ( as did, George Jr. and all the rest who preceded him,) and some relatively minor improvements (useful and helpful in their own limited way) but he cannot tear the house down and build a new one.
Why not? Two reasons: The Elites who own it won’t let him, and the public, which has ingested, each of us in our own way, the culture we live in, will not permit it. Kissinger said if it is necessary to choose between order and justice he would choose order. I believe that is true for most people most of the time.
I believe it is always true, and has to be true for politicians. Even revolutions fought in the name of equality and liberty devolve into hierarchal command structures that, so far, have always been required to maintain the newly established order. Think French revolution. Think Russian Commissars. As creatures we are a long time away from becoming as good as would like to be.
At this point it may be more important for all of us to get intelligent about the world we live in, before we try to get to be good about it, because the road to hell is a familiar one, sign posted with short sighted good intentions.
It may be that we need to think about political innovation in terms of the long term; we need to think about seed planting, and leave the on-going weed pulling, watering and harvesting for later generations.
Within that context we have to understand the reality of out political system. It functions fundamentally and practically as an undeclared Oligarchy wrapped in the popular delusion producing costume of Democracy. And it will continue that way for a long time to come.
The task may be for those of us who do not trust the Oligarchy to look out for the interests of the general public to free ourselves from the constraints of the delusion and thus become free enough to see our system for what it is, to strip the costume away, and to understand that our obligation is not to “become a real democracy” but rather to acknowledge what we are, and in response to that, develop stronger communal and democratic practices to serve as a polarity of balance: we need to employ democratic principals as an ongoing public watch dog process guarding against the excesses of the hidden self-interest of the Oligarchy.