The Obama Personality Cult and the Pied Piper syndrome

This whole thing about Obama not doing what it seemed he said he was going to do in order to get reelected to another term, what does this really mean to say?

President Barack Obama

It means to say that the president has to be something that he really isn’t, which assumes he really is something, because if he were who he really is, then he wouldn’t be reelected. So his supporters encourage him to deceive the public so he can during his first four years in office make law and policy that is contrary to the interests of his supporters all for the sake of seeing him for eight years.

“Please screw me for four years, Mr. President, so that you can get re-elected,” the progressive says. “It’s no problem you screwing me for four years, because what I really want is for you to be president for eight years. And, really, if you screw me for four more years, that’s okay, too. Because it’s really all about you being president, not about what you do as president. I just love you, Mr. President. That is all.”

It means to say that what progressives really want the president to do is not what most Americans want him to do, hence why they wouldn’t reelect him if he did those things. You’re right; this makes no sense. Had the president governed like Franklin Roosevelt during these first four years, the economy would be going gangbusters right now and he would be immensely popular. Progressives would not only see your guy reelected, but you would have your guy doing what you said he couldn’t do in order to get reelected—which, if you’ve looked at the polls, looks like a difficult proposition at this point. In other words, by supporting his decision to not do what progressives really wanted him to do—in fact they wanted him not to do what they really wanted him to do so he could get re-elected—progressives have likely fated him to the status of a one-term president. 

It means to assume that the president really wants to do the things progressives really want him to do after he is re-elected. Progressives assume that he is not doing the things they really want him to do because he knows that he cannot because he would not get reelected if he did. And, since he’s so super smart, being a Harvard Law School graduate and all, progressives support him on that by not wanting the things they really want.

Obama and his followers are winking at each other. But his wink is disingenuous. He’s smart enough to know that their interpretation of the relationship flows from their gullibility and that he can use them at will to do things entirely opposite of their interests and professed values. He must keep them believing that he would love to do those things but can’t because he must first get reelected, which is why he “accidentally” says those sorts of things while pretending not to know there are live microphones in the room.

Obama is the master of the bamboozle. He knows, like any good carnival barker, that people will line up to be bamboozled if it makes them feel good. 

The people we need to provide the bodies for a mass movement against corporate capitalism are in thrall of an irrational form thinking that accompanies personality cults, for cognitive style where everything can be rationalized. The “Pied Piper syndrome” accompanies the personality cult. The escape from freedom impulse is writ large on the very people who were supposed to lead the rebellion against corporate power.

All this reminds me of when I was a kid and telling myself that I wanted the toy at the bottom of the cereal box that I really didn’t want because I knew that if I wanted the toy I really wanted I would get the one I didn’t want. I figured I would trick the Toy God into giving me the toy I really wanted by saying I wanted the one I didn’t want. Why I assumed the Toy God was a trickster god who wanted to give me toys I didn’t want I don’t know. I was a little kid. I suppose it was something like, “With Andy’s luck, he’ll get the toy he doesn’t want.” The last time I used magical thinking like that to shape opportunities for obtaining the things I wanted was elementary school. Progressives, what’s your excuse? 

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Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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