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As I was tending the garden my mind pondered the two diaries posted last night on Alan Grayson and the so-called truth of progressive realpolitik. fickle tease, what's that I hear..........."and now, will the real Obama please stand up?"

Well, what to make of such a mess?  I mean, does he or doesn't he... (or does only his hairdresser know for sure)?

It's a shame Rodney King is not a dKos diarist, because I am sure of what he would say at such a time...

What emerged from the ether follows after the break....

But seriously folks, the bottom line is not who Obama is or isn't, or whether he is a certified political ju-jitsu master or's about how real change happens in America or any other nation.

The only thing I know of that really scares the bejeebers out of the political class and causes any type of social change to happen that is counter to the vested interests of the power structure is widespread social dissent.  Look at Egypt, Syria, and Israel.  Or even America in the 60s.  

So don't exclusively blame Obama, or the tea-baggers, or Michelle Bachmann, or the Koch brothers.  It might also help to take a look in the mirror and ask, do I have what it takes to leave my comfort zone and stand up for those who have no voice?  Not an easy question to my experience.

What would that protest look like?  Ghandi and MLK have given us examples of a pattern of large-scale protest that has been time-tested.  Creative, collaborative, collective effort.  

Rosa Parks showed us how individual action also has power to make a positive difference, in totally unforeseen and unanticipated ways.  Participate in what you see happening around you, what is right before you, actively, and with uncompromising integrity.

Just for the record, I suppose that I have come to the conclusion that Obama is a product of our current system and a believer in the ability of our current system to self-correct itself.  Would he be "more progressive" if he had cover from the left...who knows?  But also, for the record, I have for the most part not followed politics with any real passion or interest until the last decade.  I've also been wrong a lot in my life.

Most of my politically savvy friends who have been really passionately active since the 70s believe otherwise...they clearly believe that Obama is a tool of Wall Street put into office to dismantle the last vestiges of the New Deal.


We are different in our analytical process...BUT...I believe we are united in what we are striving for.


diarist is

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (14+ / 0-)

    "At macro and micro levels, reality behaves in strange ways that stretch the popular worldview beyond its limit..." Marcus Borg

    by Wonton Tom on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 03:35:53 PM PDT

    •  Pretty much agree. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Ultimately, it's up to us to create the world that we need.

      But I do think we need to dispel any illusions about Mr. Obama being an ally in any significant way.  

      One of the things that keeps people from taking to the streets is that many of them (still!) believe that Obama is "our guy."  We need to continue expose him for who and what he represents.  

      "It's not a question of worrying or of hoping for the best, but of finding new weapons." -- Gilles Deleuze, Postscript on Control Societies

      by GiveNoQuarter on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 04:11:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No. That's not the reason. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Nashville fan

        People should have taken to the streets on December 12, 2000 when the election was stolen.  To use Obama as the reason is just another cop out excuse.

        "The bottom line is, we've got to wake up. We can't allow our disappointment in Obama to lull us into allowing a truly dangerous strain of conservative philosophy to gain any more traction than it already has." --ObamOcala 4/5/11

        by smoothnmellow on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 05:35:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  You r right on. (0+ / 0-)

      "The bottom line is, we've got to wake up. We can't allow our disappointment in Obama to lull us into allowing a truly dangerous strain of conservative philosophy to gain any more traction than it already has." --ObamOcala 4/5/11

      by smoothnmellow on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 05:32:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I disagree... (0+ / 0-)

    ..since Obama is president of the United States, he is definitely the solution.

    When Fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in excess body fat and carrying a misspelled sign.

    by wyvern on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 03:44:37 PM PDT

  •  Tricky though that united business. Agreeing on (4+ / 0-)

    what the problem is, how it should be solved, how long it should take, the importance of the problem or problems, etc., is pretty difficult, especially now with so many fucking problems.  
    I can say U.S. Imperialism, or antiwar, and you can say climate change.  One can say the financial oligarchy and another can say the republicans.  Some say we need protests, some a consiitional convention, some a primary, and others to elect more and better democrats.  
    Seemed easier back in the old days when we had 3 channels and no internet.

    S.A.W. 2011 STOP ALL WARS "The Global War on Terror is a fabrication to justify imperialism."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 04:00:12 PM PDT

    •  don't forget about the antenna (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      on the roof.  I thought when  my Dad installed a "rotor" which allowed us to rotate the antenna to pick up different channels that things just couldn't get any better...

      "At macro and micro levels, reality behaves in strange ways that stretch the popular worldview beyond its limit..." Marcus Borg

      by Wonton Tom on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 04:05:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I do agree that people like to argue, it seems (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and this can be a real obstace.  Maybe we need to re-
      learn what it means to work together towards a common goal, in spite of differences.

      Many of the issues you listed are definately inter-related.  This seems to be the case, more and more.  Maybe it was always the case, but now just more evident.

      Thank you for your thoughtful response.

      "At macro and micro levels, reality behaves in strange ways that stretch the popular worldview beyond its limit..." Marcus Borg

      by Wonton Tom on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 04:13:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The whole point... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, mightymouse

    of electing Obama was to forward the progressive agenda. Obama assiduously courted the progressive base during the primaries and election campaign, only to abandon them when he became president.

    The idea that none of that matters because change is exogenous to the political process is mistaken. Gandhi had Nehru, and MLK had LBJ. Change started from without, but was only consummated when the political establishment accepted it. Obama was supposed to be our in.

    If you're talking about change that is purely exogenous, then you're talking revolution. Literally.

    And that's who other ball of wax.

    •  a young guy at work said just yesterday (0+ / 0-)

      that "I went to the bathroom to start a revolution, but all I could come up with was a movement..."

      "At macro and micro levels, reality behaves in strange ways that stretch the popular worldview beyond its limit..." Marcus Borg

      by Wonton Tom on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 04:06:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  but seriously... (0+ / 0-)

      I did mention that I am a relative newcomer to politics and no student at all of theories of social change.

      My political friends warned me about Obama way before the national election.  So while I still think he "means well" the idea that things would not change in really big ways was already part of my mindset.

      "At macro and micro levels, reality behaves in strange ways that stretch the popular worldview beyond its limit..." Marcus Borg

      by Wonton Tom on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 04:16:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And your mindset was correct. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Change takes time, it doesn't happen overnight or even in two years. It starts slowly and it moves slowly. Gays serving openly in the military took a long time and lots of work towards that  goal, but now it is the law of the land, however it took more than a generation to acheive. Part of the problem with all this impatience is, we spent 8 long years sort of going in reverse, so just to get us in gear to create change is not going to be easy. I think that is the reason I would like to see this President serve for 4 more years, these 4 were simply a correction, the next four I beleive more will be done.

    •  What you said there (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Vera Lofaro, sewaneepat
      Change started from without

      Obama actually has moved our agenda forward (health care, gay rights to name just two), but against some pretty strong opposition; yet without particularly strong backing if you compare it to the level of popular Ghandi or MLK led backing. My take would be we need to be focusing effort and energy on creating more of that backing instead of castigating Obama for not getting it done on his own.

    •  Exactly, And there's Never Been Revolution Here. (0+ / 0-)

      We had 2 secessions, the colonies from UK, and the South from the US.

      But never a revolution, overthrowing our own sitting government. I don't think the global superpower can be overthrown, especially with 30-40% popular support for the authoritarians.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 04:21:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I don't think he courted the Progressive base, I (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      do think they were there for him. I know lots of conservatives, real conservatives, not right wing crazies, but pragmatic conservatives, who feel that Obama was just what they were looking for as well. Look at Andrew Sullivan, not exactly your left wing liberal. I think he sincerely beleived our health care system needed to be fixed, and I think he is socially progressive as well.
      I think too many Progressives make the mistake of thinking he was way out there on the left, because they wanted him to be way out there on the left. I don't find much difference in the values he has while governing, from the values he had while campaigning. Before you list all the things he said during the campaign that he seemed to flip on once elected, remember, it is very different when you have the awesome responsibilty of leading the entire country as opposed to winning an election.
      I am  quite satisfied with his job performance to date. I do disagree with him in some areas, but I disagree with lots of people in some areas and I still can be satisfied. I know, I am not an expert on world affairs, domestic policy, economic policy or environmental policy, so I differ to those who know more. I also like that this President does that as well, he listens to all positions and then decides. I even like that he hears out the Republicans as wacko as their positions may seem to you or me. I would not have the patience to do that, but am pleased that he does.  

  •  Wait This Is Entirely Different. Those Examples (0+ / 0-)

    were of societies solving problems that had never been solved before.

    And by the way, for all the marches and sit-ins of the 60's, civil rights was a bill passed by government after intense pressuring by the President.

    Our situation is different. The solutions to all these problems are IN OUR PAST and were established and proven BY OUR PARTY. (Well all but climate change. Even health care we've solved, we simply limited the solutions to veterans and the aged.)

    We don't need movements or martyrs, we need middle IQ functionaries who can add & subtract and cut-and-paste.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 04:19:51 PM PDT

  •  Another poll option -- in the ball-park . . . (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wonton Tom, mightymouse

    but a line drive single to right, not quite a home run; or some other analogy that expresses partial agreement.

    I agree that fundamental change comes from a broad based political movement; and that those movements take years if not a decade or more to build and sustain.  I disagree that lasting political change necessarily comes outside of the political system with political actors merely affirming public opinion.   I think this undersells the impact of political leadership in the whole process.

    If Obama had read the political mood differently post election and maintained a more adversarial approach occasionally throwing a brush-back pitch to keep batters honest, or even beaning an opponent to inspire just a little fear (not the nutty fear of the Tea-Bagger variety, but the fear of a rational actor who makes calculations that are mostly reality based), I think he could have moved the ball forward more than any single actor.

    It's worth remembering that FDR's actions helped to empower the American labor movement.  The movement existed in 1933, but FDR still might have won the 1933 election without its support.  He didn't do everything that labor wanted, but he did more than any other previous president, and the net result was that organized labors' growth increased exponentially over the next three decade.

    Organized labor could not have become what it became without FDR's support.   It's conceivable that FDR could have won a first term and possible re-election without the assistance of organized labor.

    It's not as consequential, but the failure to pass the Employee Free Choice Act had negative consequences for the labor movement.  Perhaps this was a case of the time not yet being right, but on the other hand, maybe the time was ripe, but the political leadership lacked the skill to carry the ball across the goal-line resulting in a set-back for the movement.  Where does the bulk of the responsibility rest in those circumstances?  No single member is without some degree of responsibility, but responsibility and authority are not equally distributed within a movement or political organization.  So when the results don't measure up, everyone isn't equally responsible.  The caveat here is that while some members may bear greater responsibility for success or failure than other more junior members, that doesn't absolve the junior members of responsibility in the event of a failure.  On the junior member level though, part of "taking responsibility" may consist in part of replacing the leadership.  

    •  what do you think Obama would do (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      if 12 million Americans (4% of the population) were out in the streets as is happening in Israel?

      "At macro and micro levels, reality behaves in strange ways that stretch the popular worldview beyond its limit..." Marcus Borg

      by Wonton Tom on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 04:36:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Who knows . . . (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wonton Tom

        There are limits to the effectiveness of street protests.   12 million people might move the dial, and would get media coverage, but who knows.  The immigration protests in 2006 may not have had 12 million, but there were certainly millions involved, and it did nothing to alter the debate.   The anti-war protests in the late 60s and early 70s produced their own backlash against the Democratic party and were less consequential in ending the war than the release of things like the Pentagon Papers and the Nixon impeachment.  

        Money is what talks loudest in DC.  Organizing around elections is also a potentially effective exercise of political power.  In a society where free assembly is taken as a given, the media is pretty jaded about public demonstrations -- unless you have a network like Fox pumping them up into national events.  And even in those cases, I don't see them as being fundamental game-changers -- going into 2012 the Tea-Party is becoming as much of a liability to the GOP as it might have been an asset in 2010.  As far as civil rights goes, the March on Washington was a major moment, but the grass-roots organizing was probably even more important.  The protests in what were literally police-states in the south also helped to bring regional problems to the national consciousness.

        Also, the protest movements in the Middle East may have resulted in some short-term changes in places like Egypt, although it remains to be seen just how much permanent lasting change those are likely to have.  In a police state public demonstrations are likely to have a greater impact since they bring the brutality of repressive regimes out of the prisons and holding cells into public view.  In a society where public demonstrations are given room to operate, I don't see them as the most effective form of public pressure.  Calls to representatives, fundraising for causes and candidates, and organizing during elections and primaries are what move the dial the most.  Public demonstrations may have some value in terms of morale within a movement, but even a massive one involving 12 million, I think would be a lot less effective than getting 12 million people to raise $1.2 billion in the service of a slate of candidates and causes that they support.

  •  The passage of the Civil Rights Act was critical, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    But it took another two decades of struggle and legal enforcement to to get schools, jobs and housing desegregated. America became a multi-cultural society, but a great divide remains.

    The left had fooled itself into thinking those struggles were over, and the the election of America's First Black President was a final blow to racist conservatism.

    It was a blow to racism. But we badly underestimated the strength and swiftness of the inevitable backlash.

    The generation that "lost" the desegregation battles fled to suburbs, bunkered themselves in evangelical churches, and sent their kids to school at "christian academies". If they could have segregated themselves into all-white "homelands", they would have.

    Then the Republican Party invited them to transfer their resentment to a surrogate cause: hostility toward "big government". Why not? The federal government was the agent of desegregation. To them government really was "the problem".

    The "Amerikaaners" voted for Reagan, filed lawsuits against affirmative action, abandoned support for public education, and focused their aversion for "the other" upon gays, immigrants and Muslims.

    These people will deny that they are racist. But racism is the emotional "fuel" that powers their political action against government. It explains why they vote against their economic self-interest again and again.

    They are the Tea Puppets.

    The progressive agenda will be on the back burner while we, and President Obama, respond to their challenge.

    Have you noticed?
    Politicians who promise LESS government
    only deliver BAD government.

    by jjohnjj on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 05:25:02 PM PDT

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