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Elections Ought to Matter

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Kevin Gosztola       (Page 1 of 4 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   3 comments

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Thursday night on Hardball w/ Chris Matthews, Matthews posed the question that has been the focus among many Democrats since Barack Obama was elected president. He asked, “Can he do the big stuff (like millions of green jobs, promised infrastructure construction, health care, energy, etc.) or does he have to wait?”

Matthews discussed this question with historian Doug Brinkley. Matthews staked out a position and firmly stated that this country needs a “bold, bold Democratic administration.”

“One thing the Republicans have taught the Democrats is when you get into office even if you don’t get the popular vote as George W. Bush did and even if there’s a dispute about 'making that decision---Bush came in and did what he wanted to do. Ronald Reagan came in and did what he wanted to do. The voters elect you to do what you promised to do. Why should he take advantage of his first year in office, use the budget which guarantees him a vote for big changes in spending and big changes in taxation to do what he promised to do? The deficit’s going to be high no matter who’s president, no matter if nothing’s done.”

Brinkley explained that he though Obama should wait. Obama should appeal to human rights advocates and environmentalists and close gitmo, give a speech on upholding the Geneva Conventions, and use an executive order to make ANWR a national park. But, he should not get ahead of himself especially when we have bailouts and a faltering economy to deal with.

Matthews could not accept Brinkley’s reasoning. He ended the segment saying, “Elections ought to matter.”

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Perfect. Exactly. Put that on a bumper sticker so I can stick it on my car because elections ought to mean something.

I have no rosy misconceptions about the system which we live under. I have no evidence to suggest that what we want to see happen will happen in the next four years (or eight years if Obama is reelected). But, I do have the fortitude and courage to stand firmly behind the belief that Obama won a mandate on Election Day and we the people should take advantage of this mandate with grit, gumption, heart, soul, passion, and nerve.

Americans should not fall for this “center-right” mythology being perpetuated by media pundits and political analysts.

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The country over the past eight years has had and still has, as Bill Maher said in his comedy concert The Decider, “f*ck-up fatigue.” As Maher said, it’s what happens when a f*ck-up’s in charge and when he fucks up the country goes, “Eh, he’s a f*ck-up,” and that’s fucked up.

From this “fatigue”, a mandate was born---a mandate for real change. The electorate on November 4th gave Obama the power to decide where our nation would go in the next four years because they were tired of seeing government f*ck up.

But, that doesn't mean we should have low expectations for government. That doesn't mean we should have little to no vision for our nation's future.

Americans should not simply accept a return to conventional politics or a departure from extremist politics as the “change” Obama promised during his campaign.

Think about it---Essentially, one could make the case that Obama’s mandate is built on the fact that he is not Bush. And so, that means Obama could do the opposite of what Bush did.

Obama could strengthen human rights, the rule of law or the Constitution, end the “war on terror”, restructure the economy to deal with the problems that free-market capitalism creates, move on initiatives to fight global warming, push for the creation of alternative energy innovations, crackdown on corporate crime, corporate greed, and corporate welfare, support a Workers’ Bill of Rights, and create a single-payer health care program for Americans to coincide with his tax cut plan and his green jobs program.

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Obama could do all of this because Bush did not do any of this and Obama campaigned on the basis that he was not Bush and so if Obama’s policies and governance is strikingly different the public should have no problem with this.

If Americans do not employ such a criteria, one where we decide to pursue policy changes that happen to be diametrically opposite of what Bush fought for, than the least we could do is firmly display a belief that the “progressive promise” is “mainstream.”

Rep. Barbara Lee of Oakland expressed this sentiment saying, “We're certainly not going to lose sight of our goals and our values. ... If you look at the progressive promise - 95 percent of what we advocated for, energy independence, infrastructure, health care reform - it's mainstream.”

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for

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