My neighborhood went nuts last night. A street party spontaneously combusted as the reports came in of Obama’s win. Whoops, whistles, howls of joy. And pots and pans! Love it when people bang on pots and pans. On New Year’s Eve it happens too, but this was way better. Congo drums in the streets of Harlem. In Chicago’s Grant Park: joy on faces not used to exuding joy.
This was my favorite layer of meaning to what happened Nov 4th, 2008, as Uranus and Saturn opposed in the sky. The transit assured us of the extraordinary nature of this election. For one thing, there were all these firsts. History pays a lot of attention to firsts. Astrology holds that the first moment of any life process is its most important moment.
The first (half-) black president. I know his official title is “the first black president,” but the truth is more interesting: Obama is in fact as blatantly half-and-half as one can get — making his racial status far more symbolically resonant than it would otherwise be. He did not spring from the vague American melting-pot whence most of us spring; he is the clear composite of a Kansan and a Kenyan, making him a much more literal embodiment of the phrase “African-American” than usual.
This point was briefly and sloppily discussed, and quickly discredited, among black thinkers early in the campaign, under the rubric of the judgment-laden question of whether Obama was “black enough.” Of course when posed that way, the question is either meaningless or insulting, depending on how you look at it. But if we’re parsing this phenomenon on a symbolic level, we miss a couple of layers of meaning if we gloss over the fact that this is a man who was born of and raised by a white single mother; and whose father’s blackness means something different from what it means to Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson (who both, by the way, despite the way their comportment flies in the face of the American bourgeois sensibility, deserve more credit here than they have received for this historic moment). America created for its first nonwhite president someone who is not a descendant of slavery. He does not carry in his blood the taint of one of America’s original sins.
Another first was how much time and money went into this victory. Historians are arguing about whether this was the longest campaign in US history, but everyone agrees that it was the most expensive. Some analysts are even saying that Obama’s opting out of campaign-finance limits was the coup-de-grâce of his victory (not that it should have been, but that, given the reality of the system, it was). This is rather an unsavory first, as firsts go; if one is a fan of democracy. That this hemorraging of cash occurred just as the country entered its deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression is quite a statement.
What happened to McCain? The pundits say he was done in by the mortgage crisis (how ironic, for a guy with 14 houses). The astrology of his and the USA’s chart reflects the fact that he was a national premier father figure a few years ago. But the old vet sold himself out. One by one, he betrayed the few conscience-driven stands that could have justified his campaign slogan as “The Original Maverick.” (This phrase was a great example of politios borrowing a gambit from commerce: branding a candidate. But hold on: weren’t mavericks horses that were unbranded? To brand oneself as a maverick is not only morally ludicrous in the case of a guy who voted with the Establishment 90% of the time, it’s linguistically ludicrous.) But I do not have the heart to goose on McCain at this moment. He is a tragic figure: the wounded soldier who never healed.
The pundits also say that this election was “a referendum on George Bush.” But when we step back from the big-media-show approach to American politix and look at things from a slightly longer view, Bush-the-individual matters very little. Dubya was a creation of a cartel that one could call the Cheney/Wolfowitz machine, though that doesn’t go far enough. In fact Old General Eisenhower’s coinage, the military-industrial complex, still works best for precision and accuracy. I don’t believe the election of one man can undo complex Plutonian power cartels. Even if he wanted to. And we don’t know yet whether Obama wants to.
What is clear from the transits is that the euphoria surrounding this election reflects the last passionate flames of Pluto in Sagittarius: a religious craving for a savior to redeem the sins of our times. Is Obama a match for this projection? He is an intellectual prodigy and a brilliant politician (those idiots who sneered at him for being a “community organizer” are eating their words at this moment: they know that it is at their own game — that of campaign organizing — that he beat their pants off). He is preternaturally poised; seeming, like Hillary Clinton, to gain strength from murderous degrees of stress. And he looks better in a suit than anybody in public office.
But the defining transit of this race, that of Saturn (the status quo) opposing Uranus (revolution) tells us that there are other things a leader will have to be, if he’s going to match the needs of this epoch. Saturn governs the Past, whereas Uranus governs the Future. (Dick Arney [R., Texas] might want to consult an astrologer right about now. When asked yesterday what his wounded party should do to regroup, the old lawmaker opined, “They need to get back to what worked in the past.” Uh, no.) The last time these two planets opposed, in the mid-60s, we had leaders like Abbie Hoffman and Richard Alpert (Baba Ram Dass) rising up in a cacophonous orgy of defiance against the Chicago police and Harvard University, respectively.
At this moment Obama seems to be rather more Harvard Law (Saturn) than Chicago Seven (Uranus). Charles Ogiltree, the esteemed black scholar who taught both Barack and Michelle when they were rising stars in law school, says he found them so conservative he thought they were Republicans.
On Nov 25th Pluto is going into Capricorn, the sign of social class. The next 13 years are going to reveal the dark secret of America’s gaping class divides. Everything is relative, in astrological symbolism as in everything else; and by contrast with McCain, Obama is Abbie Hoffman. But in terms of social class, with his Harvard background and impeccable suits our distinguished new president definitely has one foot in Saturn’s camp.
noteworthy, moreover, that the big two priorities being advanced for the new administration to tackle are the American economy and healthcare reform; which, though critical, must ring a little hollow to soldiers and civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. Observers in and of the Middle East are skeptical about the much-touted change signified by this election. During this moment of elation one hates to bring up the foreign policy similarities between McCain and Obama; but the fact that their approaches to Iraq, Palestine and Pakistan are pretty much indistinguishable will soon enough be hard to ignore.
Ogiltree said something else interesting about how the new President and First Lady came across in their student days. He said that of the two, it was Michelle who he thought most likely to succeed. How telling this is about the relative revolutionariness of shattering ceilings: as John and Yoko sang during the last Saturn-Uranus opposition, “Woman is nigger of the world.” Demurely tucked into the background during the past two years, Michelle Obama has been every inch the little woman behind her man. As First Lady, she may turn out to be the true Uranian surprise.
I dreamed of Michelle Obama last night. I was her elder daughter, and she was leaning over me maternally at bedtime, straightening my hair, lock by lock.