Johann Hari For two years now, most of the good and honourable people, who desperately wanted him to beat John McCain have watched his actions through a distorting haze of hoping for the best. So, when Obama set us all up for another global crash by refusing to re-regulate the banks or stop even their riskiest practices, we looked away. When Obama set us all up for more terror attacks by trebling the troops in Afghanistan and launching a vicious air war on Pakistan that is swelling the ranks of jihadis, we didnt want to hear it. And when a week from now if he is beaten at the mid-term elections - after having so little to show the people - we will weep for him. As Rober D. Hodge writes in his book entitled The Mendacity of Hope: Obama is judged not as a man but as a fable, a tale of moral uplift that redeems the sins of Americas shameful past. Our longing for him to be Martin Luther King reborn has meant that good people have not pushed and pressured and opposed him, even as he endangered us. But if you choose to see this as another fairytale, you will miss the point, and the real need for change. This is not primarily a question of individual failings, but of the endemic corruption at the core of US politics. The facts are not hidden. If you want to run for national office in the US, you have to raise huge sums of money from corporations and very rich people to pay for the adverts and the mailings that get you on the ballot and into office. These corporations will only give you money if you persuade them that you will serve their interests once you are in power. If you say instead that you want to prevent anything destructive they are doing to ordinary people, or tax and regulate them, you will get no money, and cant run. Obama knows this. In 2006, he said that taking money from the rich is the original sin of anyone, whos ever run for office in the US, and it ensures that Washington is only open to those with the most cash. Theres a term for this: legalised bribery. It is so naked that corporations routinely give to both sides in an election: Goldman Sachs, to name just one, gave to both Obama and McCain to ensure whoever became President was indebted to them. Obama was brought to power by the donations - actually investments. So, it is unsurprising that his Presidency has largely served their interests, which are very different from our interests. The corporations are getting massive returns on their investment in Obama. Two-thirds of them pay no federal tax on their income. These corporations get to veto any law that would eat into their short-term profits, like a freeze on kicking Americans out of their homes while the banks dodgy and probably illegal boom-time mortgages contracts are clarified, or a transition away from climate-destabilising oil and coal. And they rake in a fortune from the reality that 44 percent of the entire federal budget is spent on a largely unnecessary war machine - a figure that is growing rapidly on Obamas watch. The fact that corporations have this power over what the US government can do means Obama - or any other President - is unable to approach a problem by asking: how do I fix this? Instead he has to ask: how can we get corporations to consent to a small cosmetic gesture that will, for a while, appease public anxiety and anger about this problem? The healthcare reform trumpeted as Obamas greatest achievement illustrates how this works. The biggest problem with US healthcare is that squatting between a doctor and his patient are the bloated insurance companies whose job is to turn down any claim from a sick person they possibly can, in order to maximise their profits. Some 45,000 Americans die every year as a result. Obama had within his grasp a way of taming these corporations and saving the lives of all these people. It was called the public option: a government-run healthcare insurance programme that would guarantee affordable care to all American citizens. It was supported by 61 percent of Americans. But as it would have cut into corporate profits, the administration stopped it. Yes, on the night Obama won, I too felt that great global ripple of hope, and shed a little tear - but the people weeping today are those having their homes repossessed in the Rust Belt and their homes blown to pieces in the Swat Valley, as a direct result of Obamas decisions. They are the ones, who deserve our empathy now, not the most powerful man in the world, who has chosen to settle into and defend a profoundly corrupt system, rather than challenge and change it. The Independent