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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 6/12/10

Obama Needs to Decide Which Side He's On: Corporatist or Populist. Time is Running Out

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Message Stephen Crockett

It is time to purge the corporatists from the Democratic power structure. The real work of the Democratic Party is done by grassroots activists. These activists are the Democratic Party. They should run it at every level.

This conclusion has become clear in the aftermath of tainted Blanche Lincoln primary victory in Arkansas. It took massive voter disenfranchisement and the intervention of both former President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama for Lincoln to squeak out a victory.

Obama still has not learned that the Obama Movement that put him in the White House was not really about Obama. It was about a set of progressive policies that constituted "change we can believe in."

Former President Clinton started the process of going Republican-lite and selling out parts of the Democratic base around specific policy issues. Union members and American workers were shafted by the false promises surrounding "so-called free trade deals." Poor Americans really suffered from some aspects of his welfare reform ideas. Deregulation helped create media consolidation that gave the corporations excessive control of public policy discussions and American politics.

Hillary Clinton was the driving force behind the most progressive policy goal of the Clinton Presidency which was the failed attempt at healthcare reform. America would have been a much better place if she had been President instead of Bill Clinton. One note of caution in her background was her position at one point on the Wal-Mart Board but her overall political history is solidly progressive.

President Clinton was not a bad on corporate issues as Reagan or both of the Bushes but he was pretty bad for a Democrat. He was not as bad as Senator Blanche Lincoln. Lincoln received more campaign money from Big Oil than any other Senator regardless of political party. She was the leading force in blocking the public option in healthcare reform.

Blanche Lincoln stopped the Employee Free Choice Act from even getting debated on the floor of the US Senate. She has a terrible record on trade policy, environmental protections, tax policy and deregulation. Blanche Lincoln has proven herself the most "corporatist" Senator in the relatively small "corporatist" wing of the Democratic Party.

Union activists, progressives and environmentalists are the majority of foot soldiers that go to battle for Democratic candidates at every level in every community of the nation. Along with civil rights leaders, civil libertarians, peace activists and the progressive Internet community, these activists give more money to elect Democrats than every corporation combined.

The corporations make the big donations and control the mainstream media but their values are really more Republican than Democratic. They value money over people. They value money over traditional American values. They value money over American patriotism. They value money over ethics, honesty and decency. Their values are directly at odds with the core values of the Democratic base.

We need to return to the values of FDR and the New Deal. We need to capture every Democratic Party office and drive out the corporatists. The Democratic Party is a much better institution because we drove out the Southern racist faction (and the northern one) and we need to do the same with the corporatists.

Obama needs to decide if he is going to the leader of this effort or an obstacle. If he elects to be an obstacle, he will not get a second term. If he joins in this populist effort, he might go down in history as an equal to our greatest American President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

With or without Obama, we need to take over every local Democratic Committee, every Democratic club and elect our "real Democrats" to public office. Government is not our enemy as long as it has not been captured by corporations. The US Constitution says we "the people" are the government. Corporations are not people despite the radical Right Wing Supreme Court rulings.

The Tea Party crowd has been captured and in some cases created by corporate forces. They cannot be the populist engine for "change you can believe in" but you and your friends can be that populist engine. Get angry, get active and fight corporatism regardless of political party.

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Stephen Crockett is co-host of Democratic Talk Radio and author of the Democratic Voices opinion column.
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