Following 20 years as the now retired sociologist in residence at Marist College. I want to comment briefly here on the current presidential election process in relation to my experience when Obama was running for president in 2008.
For background, I have considered myself to be essentially a "democratic socialist" akin to Bernie Sanders since 1968.
In 2008 I assessed Obama as a transformational candidate who would challenge the obscene levels of inequality and other aspects of our society which is thoroughly rigged in favor of the super rich and major corporations. I--quite naively, it turns out--saw Obama as a black FDR who would strive to implement similar social policies in a "New New Deal."
In my Marist classes at the time I made some linkages between critical sociology, my political perspective, and the Obama phenomenon. And I can tell you unequivocally that the vast majority of my hitherto self-identified conservative or "unpolitical" students were totally enamored of and agreed with most of my "socialist" positions when I unpacked and explained the specific issues which this standpoint endeavored to explain.
By 2009 it was very clear to me that Obama was a thoroughgoing corporatist "incrementalist" President who would make no great challenges to the corporate oligarchy which America was becoming--indeed, has thoroughly become. My and many of my idealistic students' hopes were dashed.
I forbear to go into details here but refer you to my 2010 article, "America: Night of the Living Dead", which critically outlines what I saw as Obama's terrible betrayal of the transformational potential of his presidency. In similar fashion the African-American religious philosopher Cornel West has aptly called Obama a "puppet of the plutocracy."
Fast forward to 2016: Whereas Obama's posturing proved to be a sham, Bernie Sanders' campaign is the "real deal" that is growing a genuinely populist democratic revolutionary challenge to the American corporatocracy. People everywhere are waking up to this new reality, and whether it ultimately succeeds or not is up to all of us.
In my judgment this Sanders inspired movement is America's "last chance saloon" before American democracy, now on terminal life support, dies beneath the weight of corporate rule--what social philosopher Sheldon Wolin astutely frames as "inverted totalitarianism."
By: Professor Bruce Luske