No,, that's not the end but the beginning of the story. Or rather yet another
wake-up call for Progressives to shed all delusions about "Progressive" big D
Democrats, as the men and women on the mythical white horse and to maintain their
principles and agenda, keep organizing around them, and hold the feet of those
politicians within the system who can be worked with to the fire.Back to Obama. On December 16, Glenn Greenwald wrote that Obama actually got the health care bill he wanted and that all
the noise about how he couldn't overcome the congressional divide is
just self-serving baloney (my paraphrasing). He cites the White House playing hardball
last June with the war funding bill. At that time, various freshman members of
Congress reported being cajoled and threatened by the WH to play ball or else. Is that a cynical reading of the facts or does
Greenwald's reasoning resonate for you?
that's pretty clear. Was there a candidate you preferred? Or do you
think the system simply isn't conducive to enthusiastic choice?
Greenwald got it mostly right and I'd add two more things. Obama
has deftly let the world take shots at Lieberman for being the hog
blocking the stream but that deflects attention from Obama who all
along wanted a bill, any bill, no matter how hollow, to pass so that he
could crow to the world that he did what no other president including
FDR was able to do and that's get health reform. The proof: the two
dozen secret meetings with big Pharma and private insurers at the White
House earlier this year to craft the industry-friendly bill, the early
dump of the public option, and the refusal to meet with the Progressive
Democratic Caucus on the bill.
Well, Obama has certainly disabused anyone of the notion that he is a modern-day FDR.
Sadly, regarding those secret meetings, he sounds more like the
previous occupants of the White House. There are literally millions of
people out there who are disappointed with what we've seen so far. Do
you think that people of color are especially disappointed because
Obama is a person of color? Are you?
To be disappointed in Obama you had to have had an expectation in the
first place. From day one, I was virtually a lone voice warning that Obama was a
back-room, deal-making, Beltway, corporate, centrist Democrat. The early warning
signal for me went up with his coming of national age speech at the Democratic
convention in 2004. His pitch that we're not red states and blue states set off
a bell and whistle that here's yet another Clinton type, centrist
Democratic who will compromise, conciliate and cut deals every chance with
the GOP and Wall Street.
His terribly compromised and right-center voting record in the Illinois
State legislature, his top-heavy bankroll by the major Wall Street banking,
financial houses and leading corporations, his back peddle during
campaign on every issue from the Iraq war to the death penalty, his
absolute refusal to utter a peep about increased civil rights
protections, his repeated 'blame the victim' bash of black males for
the dire plight of poor blacks, his numerous deceptions and falsehoods
about Hillary Clinton (not a cheerleader of her, just a point to show
his politically chameleon tactic). The topper was his tout of Afghan
war-making (August 2007 speech) and championing of Bush's patently
illegal and civil liberties-busting, anti-terrorism measures.
The only thing I got wrong was that he's turned out even worse than even I
Cynthia McKinney had the right position and politics and positions
on the issues. The problem was her personally. She alienated as many
persons as she inspired with her abrasive, take no prisoners,
hard-headed, personal attitude. Third party, and Progressive Democrats
have and can win office and even make some changes around the edge, as
well as raise public consciousness if
they combine the qualities of a sensible progressive
position/program, build a solid grassroots organization, and develop an
expansive small donor funding network. But they must keep their ear firmly
attuned to people's most immediate needs and concerns (can't get too far ahead of the masses)
and even be willing to make strategic compromises (as opposed to flip flops and
betrayal of positions and principles).
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An example: some years ago my neighbors (regular salt of the earth working
folk) wanted to organize a block club. All the neighbors came to the initial
meeting. They all knew and respected me. I got up and railed about police abuse.
They politely listened. And then, my neighbor across the street got up thanked me
and then said "But I just wish I could get the city to fill that pothole in front
of my house." He got thunderous applause and much favorable head shaking.
The lesson: talk about potholes (literally and metaphorically, first win the
people over) and then get to the big ticket, macro stuff.
This was a valued lesson I learned about people. A lesson
Progressives too often forget.
What keeps you from being thoroughly depressed, pulling your hair out or both?
Hair first: I'm bald, so I
don't have that problem. Depressed: I had one of the greatest remedies
for depression in this world. My father he lived to be 101 years and he
taught me patience, understanding, and always look at the better angels
of human nature. He lived through the century when African-Americans
were lynched, burned, belittled as subhuman, had absolutely no rights,
could live nowhere but in American apartheid neighborhoods and schools,
confined to the dirtiest jobs, last hired and first fired, excluded
from all avenues of economic and political power in America.
Yet he persevered, never stopped hoping (and fighting for change), and did
it all with a laugh and a smile. He and his generation went through the test of fire, took everything that
America could throw at them, and still stood remained standing
tall. He showed me how to do the same by his example and life. That's why even
though bald, I have a full head of well nourished head of hair internally, and
refuse to be depressed about the human foibles of this world.
Your father was a wise man. You
were lucky to learn from him. Thank you for talking with me, Earl. It's
been good to talk with you.
of my interview with Earl