If the "grand bargain" being put forward by President Obama were instead being promoted by a Republican president, Washington would look like Madison, WI on steroids.
But instead, we progressives have torn ourselves to shreds over questions of loyalty to President Obama, and the result is that, as far as the general public is concerned, we are largely silent. We have neutralized ourselves.
Why are any of us here? Because we care. Because we believe in the American Dream, because we believe in opportunity for all, because we believe in equal rights, and protecting our planet. Because we believe in people, in community. In dignity. In ensuring that nobody in this country goes without food, or a place to live, or essential health care.
We believe in progress. We are Progressives.
So, I'm calling the question, because everything that we believe in is being severely and imminently threatened.
I'm suggesting it's time for a new direction in our focus, and in our action. No for or against President Obama, and not focused on party. But focused on where we need to be going. Right now.
Let's start with a bit of time travel.
Many of us here are old enough to remember well the huge protests during the Viet Nam war, that led another Democratic President -- one who never shied away from a fight and who was greatly to the left of Obama and believed in the bedrock principles of the Democratic Party, who admired FDR and the New Deal, who put forth his own Great Society and passed the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act and Medicare -- to decide not to seek re-election. And remember, in 1968, the mainstream press strongly supported the war.
Somehow, we have to get over this impression that progressives are bitterly divided between "Pro-Obama" and "Anti-Obama" factions. I think the vast majority of us started off as ecstatic Obama supporters, but our faith, and our patience, have been tested beyond the breaking point. Most of us have ridden an emotional roller-coaster, alternately cheering and despairing.
But I suspect that most people here are like me -- having arrived at the point where the layers have been stripped away, and we are now seeing Obama quite clearly for the determined neoliberal that he is. Yes, he has accomplished many very good things, often against determined opposition, and he deserves much credit for those things.
But on the single central issue of our time, whether this country will continue to be an enlightened democracy with a fundamental belief that our strength is our people and NOT our corporations and the elite who own and control them, Obama is a turning out to be a monumental failure.
Barack Obama is, economically, to the right of DLCer Bill Clinton, and while opposing the anti-tax trickle-down lunacy of the radical right, he continues to pursue with great determination anti-Keynesian "austerity" remedies that only benefit the plutocrats, and in our current economic disaster, may spell the end of our middle class, and the permanent impoverishment of the working class.
This is unacceptable. The implications of what is about to befall us are monumental, and the American public at this point truly doesn't have a clue what's coming. This will be a catastrophic disaster for this country, and the opportunity to avoid this disaster is rapidly disappearing.
We can wring out hands, and vent and rant. We can continue to tear each other to shreds.
Or, we can be determined to unite in opposition NOT to Obama the man, but to the neoliberal economic claptrap that is going to bring this country to ruin.
We can either believe Paul Krugman, or we can believe Milton Friedman. it's time to decide.
NOW is the time to make our voices heard, LOUDLY.
NOW IS THE TIME TO BE TAKING TO THE STREETS, AND MAKING IT CRYSTAL CLEAR THAT ECONOMIC RECOVERY MEANS MAIN STREET, NOT JUST WALL STREET, THAT ECONOMIC RECOVERY MEANS JOBS AND DIGNITY AND GOVERNMENT THAT WORKS; THAT THE PLAN TO DESTROY THE MIDDLE CLASS, AND IMPOVERISH THOSE WHO MAKE THIS COUNTRY GREAT, AND USE AN ARTIFICIAL CRISIS TO DESTROY WORKERS' RIGHTS AND THE ENVIRONMENT AND CRIPPLE THE GOVERNMENT, IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.
Update (8:27 pm MDT): A comment on the President's prime time address, as it applies to the theme of this diary.
Never once did President Obama say: Tax cuts do NOT create jobs, and making the ultra-wealthy and corporations pay their fair share does NOT stifle job creation. It was a given that Boehner was going to pound away on the the endless refrain that the wealthy would just love to create jobs if we only would shower them with even more tax breaks. Obama had the opportunity to preempt the recitation of this myth -- the myth used as the Tea Party's rationale to extort this nation -- and he could have cited powerful historical evidence to debunk it. But nothing, zero.
He also said nothing about drastic spending cuts in the midst of a recession making the recession worse. In fact, he left just the opposite impression -- like the good neoliberal that he is. So, of course, there was no mention at all of a clean vote on raising the debt ceiling.
So, while Obama came across as Mr. Conciliation (and Boehner came across as, well, Boehner, whining, petulant, and unreasonable -- it's not necessary to say more), this was a rather predictable speech, a grand opportunity missed. His request at the end will generate lots of email and phone calls to Congress (reportedly the servers are already crashing) and that may exert enough pressure to end the stalemate. He may get his "grand bargain" in some form after all, but clearly, this will NOT result in a clean vote on raising the debt ceiling, because he never asked for that.
And he may win some political points for his own reelection. But this will do little if anything to help the Democratic Party because it does nothing to help (and may end up greatly hurting) Main Street, and it only serves to reinforce Republican framing of economic issues.
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Personal comment: I greatly appreciate that you all thought this worthy of the Rec List, and in particular, that the discussion below has been overwhelmingly thoughtful and constructive, with lots of good ideas. Thank you.