I believe one of the biggest traps for left movement building is an obsession with the accountability of politicians.
I hear it coming up in left-moderate discussions about Obama, particularly between far left activists and democratic voters. It seems as if we have semi-consciously chosen accountability as the best angle to get progressives to stick to their guns in the coming years, to not fall prey to the guise that all is well now that we have democrat in power.
Further, it assumes that the left or left leaning people are responsible for his getting elected. While this may be partly true, I don’t think we should give ourselves too much credit. For instance all the mainstream press seems to have been pushing the swing voter thesis, as they do most every election, as well as focusing on the skill the Obama team had delivering its message and forging new coalitions.
All of this is a little vague, and I’m not trying to totally prove or disprove any demographic numbers or polling data. What I wish to do, is to problematize accountability as a tactic or strategy.
Firstly, what are we holding him accountable to? His standards or our own? His standards aren’t all that great, those of his advisors, appointed and rumored, aren’t all that hot either. As I questioned before, do we have the power yet to have him accountable to us?
Now, for most of the radical movement, our goals transcend merely holding presidents accountable. Our challenge I think is this: how do we articulate our ideas, dreams, and goals beyond accountability? How do we integrate accountability as a tactic in larger strategies for further radicalization of the populace, while keeping our intent on something grander and more complex?