Skip to main content

   The anger against the president that has been rocketing around many circles of liberal/progressive politics is misplaced.

    The crisis we face isn’t about what the president is doing, or failing to do.

    We are under siege, fighting the greatest class warfare in perhaps 100 years. And we can expect very little help from a political system that has aided, without regard to party, the looting of the country over the past 30 years.

    The crisis we face is about us: the people who count themselves as activists and leaders.

    Certainly, it does matter if we have good elected, political leadership—and it is legitimate to point out the lack of leadership, or just really bad leadership.

   BUT, leadership in the absence of a mass, focused, coordinated movement is powerless—even if leaders, somewhere deep inside, want to do the right thing.

   And we do not have such a movement.

Who Obama Always—ALWAYS—Has Been

   Somewhere, not long ago, I copied down a blog comment: “Obama is not who he told us he is. He’s not the person we voted for or the person who we want in the White House.”

   Respectfully, most of the statement is not true but it does reflect what a lot of people feel: Obama misled us.

   But, generally speaking, he didn’t. After poking at this piece, on and off, for six months, I decided to finish it mainly because Obama is likely to broker a disastrous deal with Republicans over the debt ceiling controversy--and the cries that he betrayed us will escalate.

    A number of the president’s critics today were once supporters and are now described as “disappointed”. But, they preferred not to listen to him, or they engaged in a serious case of wishful thinking or cognitive dissonance during the 2008 campaign. I understood who Obama would be—I actually listened to what he said, what he wrote, how he voted and what he believed in.

   During the campaign, then-candidate Obama said very clearly: I believe in the “free market” and I am a “free trader”. Sure, he said he would protect Social Security and, memorably, said that, as president, he would walk picket lines.

    Reality: he surrounded himself with many of the very people who were committed to the very concept of the “free market” that led to the implosion of the financial system and, casting our view much further back, to the decades-long robbery of the wealth of our country. Robert Rubin and his Wall Street-“free market” acolytes were in the Obama inner circle for a long time and they clearly held far more sway than any one or two token “liberal” voices.

fairtrade

   Then-candidate Obama repeated numerous times that the Iraq War was a distraction from the “right war” in Afghanistan—a bloody, foolish, immoral disaster that continues to cost our country the lives of American and Afghani men and women, and hundreds of billions of dollars. Afghanistan is Obama’s war now—and a stain that will follow him for years to come.

   You can accept Obama’s true core beliefs without trivializing the movement that brought him to office. Based on his actual record, I did not support Obama in the primaries until it came down to a two-person race. But, I was still amazed, and moved, by the huge crowds that filled arenas and the tens of thousands of people who put volunteer energy and many free hours into politics, some for the first time, to get Obama elected.

Obama crowd

   People understood that the country was in a crisis—after 8 years of the Bush Administration that was not a hard conclusion to reach—and they were really thirsty for a leader who could tap into what they were feeling.

   Obama tapped into those feelings. You can--and should--continue to celebrate the energy, optimism and commitment that put Obama into the White House, without having to be blindly in love with the candidate who represented that movement.

   And it was also clear that he had to win the election. I live in a grey world and sometimes I am forced (dammit!) to accept two opposing ideas at the same time—as do the millions of people whose day-to-day lives are deeply influenced by the decisions made by thousands of political appointees running federal departments.  The alternative (President John McCain) was unimaginable.

   I accept, not happily, that, on the one hand, we must overturn or spark an upheaval in the two–party political system that has been bought lock, stock and barrel by corporate power and, on the other hand, that one of those parties (in my view, Democrats), will actually make the vast majority of workers slightly better off today. So, in 2008, I got my ass out to Pennsylvania (since New York was an uncontested presidential Democratic state) to knock on doors to make sure the true lunatics did not win.

   Which leads me to another grey-world point: the Administration has promoted legislation that makes a positive difference in peoples lives, from expanding the SCHIP program that covers millions of children to a commitment to expand “green” infrastructure investments to saving hundreds of thousands of jobs via the auto industry financial rescue plan (a plan that worked, by the way) and on and on.

   It is not helpful, and not accurate, to be reductionist. Criticism of the president is needed and fair—and I have written my share of strong and harsh critiques. But, to engage in black-and-white rhetoric—that he is perfect or that he is entirely a sell-out—doesn’t help us understand where we are today.

   If you accept that the greatest threat to our nation today is the class warfare underway, then, the president has not been willing to confront that. And probably never will.

   But, that is not his responsibility.

   That is our responsibility.

   A responsibility we can only fulfill if we build a movement of people.

   And we have failed in that quest.

Why We Have Failed?

   I take as a given the vast powers arrayed in the country who have no interest in ending the robbery of our country’s wealth by the few: FOX News, the worst elements of corporate America, the current conservative majority of the U.S. Supreme Court, political leaders in both parties who get on their hands and knees to pocket campaign contributions from the rich and powerful.

   But, I think pointing to all the adversaries is a cop-out. Those who think Fox News, Corporate America and the Republican Party are too powerful didn’t live in, or at least didn’t read the history of, the early part of the 20th Century when the rapidly anti-union press thrived, Pinkertons and company goons killed union organizers without a second thought, the Robber Barons ran the country and outright political bribery was far more endemic than today.

Pinkertons Fire on Strikers

   And, yet, during those times, we had a great surge in people organizing for economic justice. And, unlike today, people were literally risking their lives.

   Ask yourself this question: if you believe, as I do, that progressive values—defined as sharing the wealth of the richest nation on earth, saving the planet from physical destruction and transitioning into a country that is a super country, not a superpower, because of the hand it stretches out in peace—are shared by the majority of people, why have we failed to seize the moment when we face truly global economic and diplomatic catastrophes?

   We have failed, in part, because too many liberal/progressive leaders and organizations repeat and strengthen the very failed narratives and myths framing the crisis. You can probably think of your own myths. My favorites are Three Grand Myths.

Three Grand Myths

Myth #1: The Debt and Deficit “Crisis”

There is no deficit or debt “crisis”. None.

   I share the anger at the Administration for buying and promoting the phony “crisis” frame (not the least of which was the president’s decision to set-up the goofy Simpson-Bowles Commission).  

   But, the real problem is this: virtually every policy group, and many leaders and “progressive” media organs, on our side—all well-intentioned people—strengthened the narrative of the “crisis”. Instead of making the argument that there is no crisis and that we have to spend far more money on the real crisis—jobs—to heal the economic crisis that has built over 30 years, they enhanced the phony debate by putting out their own plans on how to “solve” the “crisis”. Rather than be clear that there is no debt or deficit crisis, many of the people, who are viewed as intellectual and movement leaders, advanced the same framing.

   That has been a huge error.  

   Here is one of those frankly, idiotic and self-defeating statements—this from the mouth of a director of an organization that bills itself “progressive”.  In a press release incomprehensibly titled, “Conrad’s 50-50 Proposal Is A Good Sign,” the “progressive” leader praises Sen. Kent Conrad—one of the leading purveyors of the phony deficit crisis—for a proposal that would cut critical government services by hundreds of billions of dollars: “The Conrad proposal is the first strong Democratic proposal that has come out of these negotiations.”

   The statement is full of self-delusion—that is, that a “50-50 proposal” could cut $2 trillion from the budget but, the statement demands, the proposal has to be one in which, “No deal that takes more out of the programs for middle income and poor Americans than it takes from tax breaks, loopholes and havens for the rich and the big corporations, and no deal that undermines the economic recovery.”  

   The statement promotes and endorses the immoral framing of “shared sacrifice”—that people who have already paid dearly for the financial mess of the past years with millions of jobs lost and devastated retirement funds, should give even more to repair damage they had no hand in creating.

   I believe that the capitulation is typical: a bunch of people want to have their invitation to the cocktail party—see below—and you can’t be part of the clique of the Smart and Powerful People if you don’t mouth the mainstream accepted chatter. Worse, it shows a fundamental misunderstanding about the roots of our crisis.

   But, accepting this myth has had its effect. We have a foolish obsession about the debt and deficit—and we have put at risk what is left of a frayed societal network.

Myth #2: The “Good Years” of the Clinton Administration

   We continually recycle the nostalgic desire to return to the days of Bill Clinton because, boy, were those great years for the economy.

   Really? I suppose people yearn for those days in comparison to the ruinous Bush Administration years that followed. But, we should not.

   The Clinton “good years” were built on two massive financial and technology speculative bubbles—not broad, lasting, wage-driven prosperity and power for people.

   The Clinton “good years” were right smack in the middle of a 30-year decline in wages compared to productivity.

   The Clinton “good years” were led by a president, and supported by a Secretary of Labor (Robert Reich), who were enthusiastic supporters of NAFTA and its clones—the trade strategy that has, at its core, the lowering of wages.

   The Clinton “good years” were a high-water mark for mindless deregulation that put the entire country’s democracy and economic security at risk by increasing the power of two of the most influential industries in the country and the world—the media industry (thanks to the 1996 Telecommunications Act) and the financial world (thanks, among other things, to the repeal of Glass Steagall--see the gleeful pic below--in favor of the Orwellian-sounding Financial Services Modernization Act—we know how that worked out).
Clinton Signs Repeal of Glass Steagall
   In the “good years”, Clinton, Reich, and the whole lot of them only used the word “union” when they needed the labor movement—usually to write a check for some political campaign.

   In the Clinton “good years”, we allowed workers to feel like they were stupid because the president and his Secretary of Labor (the latter using his entirely goofy “symbolic analyst” phrase) kept telling people they had to be better educated to make a decent wage—even though the actual FACTS showed that the biggest growth in jobs were coming in places where college-level education was irrelevant.

   Neither the president, Reich and other Serious People had the spine or the inclination to say very clearly: corporate interests were robbing America and driving down wages (As an aside, I am in awe of Reich: he is one of the country’s great self-promoting, Zelig-like observers of what is intellectually “hot”. He escapes any responsibility as he hops from one sketchy idea to another and has now re-branded himself—again—into a new posture, this time as a defender of working people, a group of people he will drop like a plague when something “hotter” comes along. Breathtaking.).

   The Clinton “good years” raised to an art form the selling of our political institutions and electoral system to the highest corporate bidder or hedge fund manager who was willing to write a check to fund the Clinton political machine—an art form that cascaded throughout the Democratic Party, particularly to people who sat on Banking and Finance Committees.

   And, last but not least, the Clinton “good years” reinforced the fundamental dynamics of the so-called “free market”, which has robbed working Americans.

   Until we stop the foolish praising of the Clinton “good years” we aren’t going to be able to speak coherently about how we got into the mess we are in and how to get out.

Myth #3: “We Have The Best Workers in the World”

   It’s hard to find an article of faith that is more racist and, at the same time, politically acceptable than the idea that “we have the best workers in the world”. And it is a concept that is repeated, often, by political leaders across the spectrum, “liberal” thinkers and, yes, labor leaders.

   You can hear these words spoken a lot, whether they are wrapped cleverly in bizarre ideas like “symbolic analysts” or mindless chest-thumping about how American workers can kick anyone’s ass—if they are just given a “level playing field”.

   Consider what would happen to any candidate running for election if she or he said the following: “Our country does not have the smartest and best workers. We have very hard-working and bright people but so does every country around the world”. Those two sentences alone would, overnight, be a YouTube sensation and engender immediate calls for the candidate to drop out of the race because of his or her lack of patriotism and faith in America.

   And it isn’t true. By repeating this, we never make headway in building a broad movement to take on class warfare here and around the globe.

   Why do we repeat these myths, and other similar, nonsensical, factually incorrect arguments?

   Political elected leaders—the good people— do so because most of them just are astonishingly not curious individuals. They don’t read.  They don’t challenge what they hear in their own circles.

   To get elected, they lapse into the same way of thinking about challenges we face. To be accepted in the party machine, they regurgitate memes without even thinking what they mean (I call it the “we honor the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform” widget). And those are the GOOD people.

   Many just don’t live the crisis: the people who pocket most of the foundation money that keeps them going, or those who have been anointed “leaders”, enjoy a personal comfort and station in life enjoyed by very few of the people they profess to represent. At the end of the day, they return to their homes in Adams Morgan or the suburbs, or on the Upper West or East Sides of Manhattan, feeling none of the pain or threats faced by the rest of the country.

   They also deeply value, as one person astutely put it to me, the invitation to the cocktail party—an invitation that became even more valued in 2008 when Barack Obama entered the White House. No one wants to threaten that invite. And, so, it is dangerous to be seen as too “radical” or talking about “class warfare” because you might not be credible—credible means being accepted into the circles of the policy wonks, being able to raise money from rich liberals and/or liberal foundations, and, perhaps most crucial, getting THE invitation: the cocktail party invitation to The White House (or the Easter egg roll or the Hanukkah party).

WH cocktail party

   The drift can be very subtle and gradual.

   One day, you are a leader, usually young and energetic, who sees clearly that the system is rotten. And, then, years later, without even seeing the change, self-censorship sets it: a foundation gives you a little money to produce reports or organize a conference and, then, the organization gets addicted to that money. To get it again, you have to satisfy the predilections of the foundation program officer or board chair—and those inclinations are rarely about changing the system and usually about showing how many times the organization was quoted in the traditional press.

   There is also virtually no accountability inside the movement. If you are incompetent or, at best, you simply don’t make waves, you are continually rewarded with new jobs and new posts. If you are an organization that makes foundations or wealthy people comfortable, you just keep on thriving because the system is gamed.

   Almost no one asks: what has this person, or organization, done lately that is new, or that challenges what has been done and repeated year after year? Success is almost an after thought.

What Now?

   We should not wallow in nostalgia for the early part of the 20th Century when millions of people poured into unions (for a variety of reasons). But, a friend once pointed out to me that workers used to drive 50 or 100 miles to a union meeting. Why?

   People drove that far because they had no choice. It was about survival. People were desperately poor. The people who were arrested in strikes and other actions were the leaders, as well as the rank-and-file, because they all came from the same economic reality.

   I do not want to minimize how hard it is to build a movement. But, I think it is worth recognizing that, even with the crisis we face, we’ve been changed.

   Poverty and economic struggle has a different face: The Waltons are always there to make another buck from poor people who can’t shop anywhere else. But, people can shop and buy food (even if the food might be unhealthy). And, even though homelessness is at unimaginable levels, this country does not have deep swaths of people earning $2 a day like many other countries. Being poor here is not the same as climbing around on a trash heap in Mumbai.

   No doubt, people live in fear—even if they can shop.

   And, yet…

   Too many leaders do not live in the same economic reality as the rank-and-file. As long as foundations and/or rich people keep giving money, or as long as people can hold on to power for power’s sake, as long as liberals and progressives are willing to cross picket lines because they choose to make their own choices on what is individually, not collectively, good for them, then, we cannot build a movement.

   This is not because they are corrupt. It is because they are way too comfortable. Just think about this: what has YOUR institution, or the institution from which you receive yet another request to sign a petition, done recently to risk itself, its funding, or the personal liberty of its leaders? If the answer is “nothing” or “very little”, then, hard questions need to be asked whether all the policy papers, conferences, speeches, rallies and other efforts are making any difference.

   Aha, solutions…

   One school of thought argues that we need more people engaged in elections. I love electoral politics. But, until we have an entirely publicly-financed election system and we undo the Citizens United-type Supreme Court decisions, which are basically a blank check for the economically powerful to buy Congress and a barrier to normal, regular people running for office, elections are not the solution to ending the astonishing robbery of the people.

   We certainly don’t need more conferences.

   We don’t need more policy papers or ideas.

   We have plenty of ideas, papers and new “flavor-of-the-moment”, high-concept exhortations to save the “American Dream”—none of which is new (though, in fairness, one has to recognize how effective “Save The American Dream” pleas are in raising money because it is very, non-threatening and foundation-friendly).

   We have to risk institutions, not build new ones.

   We have to bring the country to a halt to stop the robbery.

   We have to stop commerce.

   We have to fill jails. Not with a few people but with tens of thousands of people.

   We have to do all of this peacefully but in a way that challenges the controlled orchestration of protest, which never puts our institutions and personal liberty at stake.
200px-Portrait_Gandhi
   People who want to replicate Tahrir Square--which is the new metaphor for protest--need to remind themselves each time that those people were risking their freedom, and their lives, each day. We do neither.

   Last year, I went to jail as part of a protest in New York City against the Arizona anti-immigrant laws. I had been through this type of efficient and pre-arranged protest and arrest before: we sat down in the streets, the police politely led us to the paddy wagons, we spent a few hours of inconvenience in jail cells, where we chatted and laughed while the (bored) officers processed paperwork and, then, we were out—waving to the jubilant crowds outside and feeling very good about ourselves.

   But I was very aware that the process was nothing like the fear that is actually felt when an actual undocumented worker is grabbed out of a home or workplace, dropped into a cell and, either jailed for long periods of time or deported—often ripped away from a family. That’s the way it really works.

   And did our action change the system? No.

   I don’t dismiss action that starts small and grows bigger…but I think the system has quickly adapted to the symbolic protests. I’m done signing petitions—they seem now to be mostly about list-building and further organization building, not action that is noticed.

   Action will only mean something if people are risking something more than a few hours of inconvenience. Days, weeks and, perhaps, longer.

   Otherwise, the system shrugs and moves on.

   Obsessing about Obama is a waste of time. He isn’t the source of the crisis. He won’t fix the crisis.

   That is up to us.

Originally posted to Tasini on Fri Jul 22, 2011 at 06:16 AM PDT.

Also republished by ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, Job Party, Jobs Wages and Community Investment Working Group, In Support of Labor and Unions, Fox Fighters, Income Inequality Kos, and The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

    •  How do you bring this country to a halt in order (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tasini, radarlady, joe shikspack

      to stop the robbery?

      As you observed, the people in Tahrir square risked death and torture for themselves and their families.

      I think we agree that the reason why their protest was effective has a lot to do with the fact that it was not symbolic.

      But for similar protests to obtain here we would need unprecedented levels of state oppression, corruption and poverty.

      It looks as if the robbery taking place here has not yet reached the threshold where people start protesting because they have no choice as opposed to protesting by choice.

      •  thanks for your comment (5+ / 0-)

        You wrote:

        But for similar protests to obtain here we would need unprecedented levels of state oppression, corruption and poverty[i added the emphasis]

        I guess that while we could say that Egypt was far worse, I think we have reached a critical level of corruption and poverty and state oppression (the last one being, to me, the willful ignorance of the rule-of-law).

        I emphasize: it is not easy. But, people are furious. And I believe ready to act in ways that were inconceivable say 5 years ago. But, we need to harness that energy--and high-concept pleas for "the American Dream" are weak.

        Follow me on Twitter @jonathantasini

        Visit Working Life.

        by Tasini on Fri Jul 22, 2011 at 07:14:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  This isn't about obsessing about Obama (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DarkestHour, joe shikspack

    This is about stopping Obama.

    The darkness drops again but now I know That twenty centuries of stony sleep Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle, And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? William Butler Yeats

    by deepsouthdoug on Fri Jul 22, 2011 at 06:25:19 AM PDT

  •  Obama is merely symptomatic (8+ / 0-)

    The underlying problem is the total hegemony of Reaganims-Thatcherism, and the deliberate breaking of the system in the effort by our richest and most powerful to make that hegemony permanent.  Obama, and the rest of the "good cop" Dem leadership are but bit players in that drama.

    "Tu vida es ahora" ~graffiti in Madrid's Puerta del Sol, May, 2011.

    by ActivistGuy on Fri Jul 22, 2011 at 06:34:38 AM PDT

  •  This is an excellent diary. n/t (11+ / 0-)

    You Never Get the Problem You Can Handle

    by gc10 on Fri Jul 22, 2011 at 06:35:37 AM PDT

  •  interesting perspective (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tasini, MKSinSA

    so what do we do about it?

    •  I'll be writing more abt this... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Deep Texan, MKSinSA, evergreen2

      but for the time being: I have at least started the conversation among people I know about how to move ahead. I would start by challenging the organizations each person belongs to.

      Ex: I recently went to a moveon meeting about the "american dream". It was a pointless exercise--People got a list of things to rank—and all those things are already pre-selected by people who submitted them to the website. So, there was this whole exercise where really there is nothing but ranking everything that is motherhood and Apple Pie (infrastructure! Unions! Good jobs! Tax the rich!...duh...). I honestly don’t get this...it feels like make-work for progressives. It gives the appearance of action when, IMHO, it's a facade for inaction.

      I think I made clear but to emphasize--this ain't easy.

      Follow me on Twitter @jonathantasini

      Visit Working Life.

      by Tasini on Fri Jul 22, 2011 at 06:48:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Perhaps you are right and I am wrong (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tasini, MKSinSA

    As you pointed out, he many times went to the right, or middle if you prefer, and perhaps I simply hoped that his statements were more to the right of his REAL position.  

    I was not completely enamored of him but I was ecstacic when he won because Bush was out so perhaps I worried about why he would invite that stupid preacher to do a prayer but I chided myself for being petty worrying about window dressing.

     Perhaps I care so much about SS, medicare, Health care, employment, etc because they are not abstract theories for the generl good but impact my life every day.

    Perhaps I hoped too much and perhaps I am part of the problem.  But for now, I am simply tired and mostly out of hope.

    "Whenever a separation is made between liberty and justice, neither, in my opinion, is safe." Robert Browning in 'Ceuciaja'

    by CorinaR on Fri Jul 22, 2011 at 06:49:54 AM PDT

  •  I agree with most of this. Obama's first obliga- (9+ / 0-)

    tion at this unfortunate moment is to save the country, which means the financial mess. BUT until WE wrest the corporation control out of OUR government and political campaigns, Nothing much will change.

    Exposing the bad corporations and jumping on EACH of those pile-on messes, like Murdoch's media mess, and then any other big Corporation melt down as they come along, by boycotting or whatever and taking care of our individual selves and families needs as best we can is the only honest actions we have any control over right now.

    Maybe working on campaign finance reform should be our main concentration politically for this moment in time.

    AND stop attacking each other- that's the BUSH-GOP meme.

    "Time is for careful people, not passionate ones."

    by roseeriter on Fri Jul 22, 2011 at 06:51:09 AM PDT

    •  very true (6+ / 0-)
      BUT until WE wrest the corporation control out of OUR government and political campaigns, Nothing much will change.

      exactly right.

      Follow me on Twitter @jonathantasini

      Visit Working Life.

      by Tasini on Fri Jul 22, 2011 at 07:02:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Caution: we must manage political gains... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ahumbleopinion, Whimsical, evergreen2

        ...within the context of current rules and regs.

        The only way we get Campaign Finance Reform - ideally Public Financing at all levels - is to make the impact of very Wealthy donors inconsequential. We have to prevail in spite of the very real obstacles that currently exist.

         

        The so-called "rising tide" is lifting only yachts.

        by Egalitare on Fri Jul 22, 2011 at 07:45:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Very true. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Egalitare

          IMO, the reason we fail so much is because we are obssessed with changing the rules of the game, which, as it stands, is impossible.

          We need to play by the rules to get into positions of power, and then and only then will we be able to change them.

          Once we start playing by the rules, rather than insisting that the rules be changed before we'll play, progressive ideals will gain a lot of ground.

          Until we do that, they'll go nowhere.

          "The future of man is not one billion of us fighting over limited resources on a soon-to-be dead planet. . .I won't go back into the cave for anyone."

          by Whimsical on Fri Jul 22, 2011 at 08:26:03 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I agree - good place to start (6+ / 0-)

      I think you have made a number of suggestions that are good ways to get started:
      1) boycott the business of the corporatocracy - easy to do with Fox Booze, but not so much with Exxon.

      2) work to make ALL elections publicly funded AND remove ALL private donations to holders and seekers of public office

      3) document and disseminate those actions of the corporatocracy that harm voters.

      "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

      by Hugh Jim Bissell on Fri Jul 22, 2011 at 07:22:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Very nice post (5+ / 0-)

    The great years, those before and after WWl and WWll were years in which organization was even harder than it is today.

    Today we have mass media and we can use it much as the Government and the corporations already do. Look at what the TV ad with the three older Americans complaining about the cuts to Social Security resound.

    And today, we don't have police with clubs and dogs attacking us when we do meet to protest. They actually ignore and even join us.

    In a blog last week, The Job Creators vs US, I show that both the Democrats and the Republicans as well as FOX, MSNBC, CBS, PBS, and more are failing to tell us the truth about taxation, and how the higher the tax the higher the investments become.

    But the blog and the writing will work.

    It took me weeks of writing to MSNBC shows to finally get one person to mention the lie called shared sacrifice. No one is really sharring except the elderly and the sick and that is sick.

    Communication is the answer to mobilizing and affecting changes.

    You hvae to look through the smoke to see the fire. Most of what we are told. and to which we all join the battle, is not what is really going on.

    by pangiel on Fri Jul 22, 2011 at 06:54:49 AM PDT

    •  We agree in part (5+ / 0-)
      Communication is the answer to mobilizing and affecting changes.

      yes i agree with that,

      BUT...truthfully, we then have to take that knowledge and move it into action. Too often we see communication as the beginning and the end.

      Follow me on Twitter @jonathantasini

      Visit Working Life.

      by Tasini on Fri Jul 22, 2011 at 07:04:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Action Is (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ahumbleopinion

        doing a cut and paste of your post and submitting it as a letter or OP ED to a large list of newspapers. Get the word out.

        People are angry about the make believe Debt Ceiling fight. They believe that the wealthy should pay more in tax because that is the choice the Parties have offered.

        And they believe that taxes hurt investment and jobs when the opposite is true.

        Say this in the news papers and the front pages will start changing what they say and the talking heads will start asking different questions on TV.

        You have to look through the smoke to see the fire. Most of what we are told. and to which we all join the battle, is not what is really going on.

        by pangiel on Fri Jul 22, 2011 at 07:21:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  "People were desparately poor" (8+ / 0-)

    Thank you for an excellant article.

    The activism in the early part of the 20th century that brought about the rise of the labor movement, social security and other social programs, and even the civil rights movement came about when voters, not politicians, not corporate owners, not bloggers, fought (sometimes violently) for their interests.  As you say, in many cases, those voters were desparate.

    I can't help feel that that needed level of desparation is lacking in part because those earlier battles: union protections, unemployment assistance, disability payments, aid to the elderly imfirmed, aid to infants and children.  These programs were put in place precisely so that later generations would not have to go through the 'knawing hole of hunger" desparation that drove earlier activists.

    Is it possible that previous progresive victories are part of what keep us from fighting today?

    And indeed, the counter-message from the corporatocracy yesterday was "the poor aren't really that bad off".

    I too believe a peaceful movement is needed to remove the corporatocracy from power.  I too wonder what it will take to see that movement come alive.  As I beleive Winston Churchill said: "The American people can be relied apon to do the right thing, but only after trying everything else."

    "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

    by Hugh Jim Bissell on Fri Jul 22, 2011 at 07:10:26 AM PDT

    •  interesting comments (4+ / 0-)

      It is true--we have lived better than most of the world. And it is true that it has made people leery about fighting, at least in the ways I would suggest.

      But, people fought in the South and got their heads bashed in and went to jail for long stretches and in some cases paid for the struggle with their lives--so we do have a history.

      Follow me on Twitter @jonathantasini

      Visit Working Life.

      by Tasini on Fri Jul 22, 2011 at 07:17:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  meant to say (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cassandracarolina, MKSinSA, Egalitare

        who fought in the South for civil rights and against segregation...assume ppl got the reference.

        Follow me on Twitter @jonathantasini

        Visit Working Life.

        by Tasini on Fri Jul 22, 2011 at 07:17:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The key is that PEOPLE fought. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Catte Nappe, evergreen2

        We cannot rely on President Obama or anyone else to get the job done.  We have to do it ourselves. How?  

        I am encouraged that some faith leaders are beginning to speak up - that has been a huge part of the GOP scam, they have co-opted people of faith with their sham Christianity.

        "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Maya Angelou

        by ahumbleopinion on Fri Jul 22, 2011 at 08:05:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree entirely (0+ / 0-)

          Conservative tell us we can't be sitting around waitng for the government to give us stuff.

          And we are guilty of this.

          We can't be sitting around waiting for Pres. Obama or Washington in general to fight our fight for us.  Yes, we elected them to do this, but (the joke's on us!) we are not the constituency of those holding office in Washington.  The corporatocracy is that constituency.

          For all of his great talk and popular appeal, Pres. Obama is NOT our ally in this fight.  He is firmly on the side of the corporatocracy.  Waiting for him will only lead to dissappointment.

          As for the church and the clergy, I point out they have been largely silent over the past 2-3 decades as their teachings have been mis-appropriated and twisted by and for the corporatocracy (Jesus was a liberal AND a community organizer).  Best not to be waiting around for them, either.

          "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

          by Hugh Jim Bissell on Fri Jul 22, 2011 at 08:23:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I cant say I agree with all of your observations (8+ / 0-)

    and I think you danced around some of the facts of what he has done and what he was elected to do. But You had enough in it for me to tip and reccomend.

    Ultimately, I agree it is up to us. And we did do something, we elected Obama. Which, IMO, was a good first step.

    Obama, Perlosi and Reid, delivered the goods, for the limited amount of time they had the control. They worked the system and gave us, maybe not what we all wanted but in most cases started us down the path of what we need.

    Right now, due to 2010 results, which our leadership knew was going to happen because they could read polls, we are in a defensive mode. GOP has the house
    and are doing everything in their power to undermine this president. Logic says this because they do not believe what he believes in and vice a versa. But if you read through the liberal blogs, obama goes duck hunting with Cheney and clears brush down in crawford with W.

    Focus is the key now. We need to keep the power we have now and build upon it again in 2012 by regaining the house again. imagine what they could deliver if they are able to run the table for a couple of sessions.

    Cheers

    "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room." - President Merkin Muffley

    by Farkletoo on Fri Jul 22, 2011 at 07:20:02 AM PDT

    •  What, you don't agree w EVERYTHING??? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MKSinSA, Farkletoo, evergreen2

      Damn...LOL

      Fair enough. Look, I didn't list everything that has passed--because, well, this thing is long enough as it is. But, I will underscore--on a day-to-day basis, it matters that, for example, the National Labor Relations Board can go after Boeing for union-busting, which it would never have done under a John McCain Administration.

      That said, the friggin' labor laws are putrid--in part because of a bi-partisan embrace of the rights of companies to do whatever they please in the workplace...

      So, the system is just beyond repair--and that isn't Obama's fault because he is a product of this system.

      Follow me on Twitter @jonathantasini

      Visit Working Life.

      by Tasini on Fri Jul 22, 2011 at 07:26:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You are right. (3+ / 0-)

        But dont you agree, Obama's first term has to be played the way he has played it to be able to be re-elected in 2012? The middle voters are the ones who decide national elections.

        Yes, he has not walked the lines with the workers yet but I have seen nothing he has done that would say he is against labor.

        If anything, his not getting in the middle of the labor issues is the best thing for the movement. The people roled up their sleeves and took to the streets to correct the problems THEY allowed to happen in the first place.

        I think we, you, me and barack agree on more than we disagree with.

        cheers

        "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room." - President Merkin Muffley

        by Farkletoo on Fri Jul 22, 2011 at 07:42:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Well said brother. (5+ / 0-)

    What do we do now to better organize without falling into the trap of false or hollow organizations? I have my doubts about the Dream stuff too. I saw first hand how the One Nation Working Together bs turned into just another Democratic Party GOTV op and then died. The web site has expired. How do we avoid the astroturf and get down to real meat and potatoes?

    •  thanks bro (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      One Pissed Off Liberal

      And for all your amazing work.

      I guess let's start with step one: every person who signs a petition or goes to an organizational meeting should ask the leaders questions--why is this different than before? How is what you are proposing going to mobilize people in a way that the same thing has failed to do before?

      And don't be satisfied with BS about "pressure", "message", "framing" etc...

      The new cries for the "American Dream" are a tragic waste of time--not because we should not aspire for a decent living but because it's just organizational BS...I mean, please, we need more slogans?

      Follow me on Twitter @jonathantasini

      Visit Working Life.

      by Tasini on Fri Jul 22, 2011 at 07:33:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Tipped and recommended as always (0+ / 0-)

    And agreed on all counts. Keep the ideas coming. Thanks.

    "Lash those traitors and conservatives with the pen of gall and wormwood. Let them feel -- no temporising!" - Andrew Jackson to Francis Preston Blair, 1835

    by Ivan on Fri Jul 22, 2011 at 07:44:36 AM PDT

  •  Nice post. (0+ / 0-)

    Something we should all be giving serious thought to.

  •  This is an Excellent Diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    evergreen2, sberel

    And summarizes well most of my very complicated thinking about President Obama, the failure and refusal of so many to see him just as he was during the campaign (because, like you, I also was one who listened to what he said fairly unblinkered despite the profound emotional significance of his candidacy to me as a Black woman), the failure and refusal now of so many to accept that what has occurred is not, for the most part, inconsistent with what was said then, and the reality that we now must squarely face as a country because President Obama's incumbancy has not, as it turned out, slowed the train that left the station with Reagan.

    Thank you.

    If you don't stand for something, you will go for anything. Visit Maat's Feather

    by shanikka on Fri Jul 22, 2011 at 08:14:47 AM PDT

  •  This: (2+ / 0-)
    We have to bring the country to a halt to stop the robbery.
    has been on my mind for a while.

    I don't know how bad things will have to get for a critical mass to be reached, nor do I imagine it even being close to peaceful - but sooner or later..

    It has to happen.

    An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics - Plutarch

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Fri Jul 22, 2011 at 09:25:39 AM PDT

  •  Kuccinich said Obama was a conservative Dem (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sberel

    I concur, and I am really not too disappointed based on this premise.

    I understand I am a Liberal Democratic Socialists, and the President is not.

    OTOH its a shame what we've seen out of DC policy wise.

    FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

    by Roger Fox on Fri Jul 22, 2011 at 10:58:17 AM PDT

Click here for the mobile view of the site