From the White House to the Boardroom

The Obama Foundation’s new board of directors embodies the neoliberal approach that failed to defeat Trump.
by Branko Marcetic

Donald Trump’s presidency is finally here, but so is the post-presidency of Barack Obama. Not only is Obama, at only fifty-five, set to have one of the longest post-presidential careers of any president, but now freed from the shackles of the office — which often forced him to temper his true beliefs and triangulate — Obama can become the progressive hero his most fervent supporters always wanted him to be. Or so the theory goes.

Part of Obama’s post-presidential legacy will be the Obama Foundation, established in January 2014 “to carry on the great, unfinished project of renewal and global progress,” as its website tells us. For the last two years, its chief responsibility has been funding and constructing Obama’s presidential library — “a living, working center for citizenship” as Obama puts it. But it will soon turn its focus to “developing the next generation of citizens” and building various programs and nonprofits around the country.

Still in its early days, the foundation’s mission is vague and amorphous, but nonetheless offers some hint of attempting to rebuild the kind of progressive grassroots activity that Obama’s election originally seemed to promise. This, coupled with a public letter in which Obama pledged to “be right there with you every step of the way” in the years to come has given some hope that Obama will play a role in resisting President Trump.

The launch of the foundation’s website five days ago, however, along with the publication of its full volunteer board of directors, raises questions about how effective the foundation will be as a springboard for progressive action, let alone a bulwark against the coalition of resentment Trump has mobilized.

The foundation’s board of directors is a combination of Obama friends and fundraisers, campaign workers and corporate leaders, and the politically connected, often all rolled into one. And many of them have long pushed for the kind of centrist, corporate-friendly policies that helped lead to the party’s loss in the presidential election and decimation at the state level around the country.

(snip of a ton of dreadful names & bios)

Yes We Can (Undermine Public Education)

Besides their corporate ties, a number of the foundation’s board members hold some questionable political views. This is most evident in education. A number of board members are scornful of public education and are active supporters of charter schools.