Thought on Obama as we mourn RBG
Such overwhelming sadness on this day.
Víctor thought something terrible had happened when I screamed out at the TV last night when I heard the news. And it had.
But, I take to paper this morning to talk about something else - former President Barack Obama - whom I DO want to scream at right now.
The Great Conciliator who brought us insurance-based health care, rather than the single payer he could have pushed for when he had the House and the Senate. The Great Conciliator who thought he could win over Republican racists by being the kind of African American they would be prout to say "I'm not racist - see, I have a Black friend) (Oh do I miss you Miriam)
Obama - the man who saddled Puerto Rico with PROMESA, to pay up usurious debt while all basic services in PR, including public education, the UPR and the Power Authority (and our crater-ridden roads) go to hell, as we prepare for a new Puerto Rico inhabited by playboys and billionaires, without much need for any Puerto Ricans.
Watching the news from the States this morning, I was struck by one commentator's observation, which I immediately felt obligated to share - Obama's ridiculous nomination of Merritt Gardner in February of 2016.
So, the Great Conciliator thought if he put up a man who looked like the Republican Senators, white (of course), male (of course), moderate, leaning conservative, middle aged, who would be liked by family members at the at the holiday dinner, that the Republicans would say, OK, that's better than we thought it would be.
NO, No, No, No - what a chance Obama missed --- to nominate a woman, a person of color, a die-hard progressive, someone that the progressive base would have been willing to fight for (and whose rejection, if it happened, could have been a boost even for such a poor candidate as Hillary Clinton was.)
Conciliation - quite simply - has a limited shelf-life.
I write this as a litigator and a law professor, as well as a life-long activist whose fight for social justice was shaped by the Holocaust, the McCarthy era, the TV images of police dogs fighting back Civil Rights protesters, the killings of Goodman, Shwerner and Chaney, as well as Viola Liuzzo, as someone who went to college before birth control and abortion were legalized, who went to law school with no female professors, and only one African American, Derrick Bell, who was hissed by my fellow (white) classmates and was eventually driven out after a principled protest of the fact that there were no women of color on the faculty. RBG has been an influence in my life since the late 60's when were fighting for civil rights, gender equality and against the Vietnam War.
As a litigator, I know I often decide to promote conciliation rather than a fight, because that's the best way to protect my client's interests, given the simple realities of the legal system. But, it often goes against my grain and causes me terrible stress, as I continue to work within a system which is plainly more about inequality and injustice than justice and equality.
So - now, with the death of RBG, the Supreme Court will probably be locked into the strict control of the right-wing for decades, affecting the lives and options for my dear grandchildren.
And yes - OBAMA - I will always be very very ANGRY for the paths you took. I was so thrilled to see an African American President, something I never thought could happen in my lifetime. But, you were, in so many ways just a pretty face.
Someone who was tolerable to all those crazy uncles at those dinner tables in the United States.
Someone who valued conciliation over principle - and look where it got us.
Just my two cents on this very sad day.