So is it mere incompetence or collusion?
By Mark L. Taylor
The Daily Call (7/18/11)
While progressives are beginning to see some promising shifts in the political landscape, ranging from Gov. Walker’s root cellar low poll numbers to declining viewership ratings for hate mongers Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh and a crackling progressive energy among the tinder dry grassroots, one stubbornly bleak part of the landscape remains moribund: our leadership.
After two weeks of state government shutdown, Minnesota Gov. Dayton meekly waved his white doily of surrender to the Republicans willing to drive the state straight into the ground to preserve tax breaks for the tiniest sliver of the undeserving wealthy. Instead of putting the GOP on notice for it’s greed and taking his case to the people, he signed on to a proposal the GOP offered, and he rejected as unacceptable, on the eve of the shutdown.
In exchange the GOP dropped some of their budget add-on craziness, like abortion restrictions and Voter ID disenfranchisement but that was just so much bunting on a manure spreader.
On the national level we have Obama, as he himself notes, “bending over backward” to please the likes of tea party apparatchik Eric Cantor only to receive the one-fingered salute as thanks. It has been calculated that if it had been accepted, Obama’s proposal would have given 75% to the Republicans and only 25% to the Democrats.
The betrayal of Elizabeth Warren
Now we hear that after a major push for her nomination by progressive groups that Obama has thrown consumer champion Elizabeth Warren overboard as the head of the new consumer protection bureau that is part of the financial “reform” package. This came on the same weekend the New York Times reported a gush of Wall Street money to Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.
(Here’s a free bit of “Daily Call” advice: save your small donations to Obama – he doesn’t need ‘em but you’ll need every penny you can hold onto by the time Barack and the banksters get done with your family.)
Change you can believe in? Not unless the change you sought was to see the Democratic Party become a wholly owned subsidiary of the radical right wing of the Republican Party.
We often hear from our supposed national leaders that it’s just too tough; the Republicans won’t negotiate or play nice; that it’s hopeless and, well, gosh darn it all, maybe if we show we are really, really nice maybe next time the Repugs will play fair.
Well, they don’t and they won’t, but the White House jellyfish masquerading as leaders just don’t get it.
Hocking the New Deal Holy Grail
When Obama happily extended the Bush tax cuts for the super wealthy without a flicker of fight (a fundamental source of our current deficit, BTW) he told shocked Democrats that we needed to understand that tax cuts are the “Holy Grail” for the Republicans.
And what do we get six months later? Obama is willing to haul the Democratic Party “Holy Grail” of fairness through Medicare and Social Security to the chopping block for some compromising Paul Ryan trimming.
It would be one thing if supposed leaders like Obama and Dayton put up a good fight and lost. Nobody expects to win every fight (unless you are a Republican, of course), but to not even fight?
That is as inexcusable as it is crazy.
Given the wide and ever growing disparity of wealth in this nation and upward of 70% of Americans supporting increased taxes on the wealthy and a mix of program cuts and tax increases to address the budget problems, it really shouldn’t be hard for smart guys like Obama and Dayton to take the debate to the people and expose the GOP for the theocratic greedheads that they are.
But does he really want to?
If (and that is a huge question) he wanted to, Obama could shift the whole debate overnight by going on national television with some simple Ross Perot style charts, paired with some social media illustrating the deadly income and tax divide in this nation. If he would get the kittenish congressional Dems singing from the same hymnal the debate in this country could be turned in a news cycle and the GOP would be on the defensive, scrambling to explain their defense of hedge fund rustlers and bankster highwaymen.
Recently, Obama made a mild jab in that direction when he spoke against corporate jet tax breaks but then flinched back when some Republican congressmen whined that he was being mean.
Dayton missed a golden opportunity to do the same in Minnesota.
Obama proved over and over under daunting conditions during the ’08 election that he has both the smarts and the magical rhetorical skills to address tough issues in language that both explains and moves people to action. But that Obama is a distant, evaporating mirage in the steamy heat of this summer of betrayal.
Think of it as a kind of political malpractice.
Obama and Dayton are – supposedly – political professionals. Their job is to frame issues, make arguments, bring together stakeholders and take the muddy boots right into the parlor of the opposition. You know, like the Repugs do.
Framing, addressing and challenging the rapidly unfolding right wing putsch that is ruining this nation and runs counter to American tradition and egalitarianism is their damn job; and to be frank, given the bald-faced, clumsy
audacity of the Republicans (I refer you to Sen. Randy “Bed” Hopper) it really shouldn’t be that hard to do.
What we have now is like having your high-priced plumber tell you she doesn’t know how to change your bathroom faucet.
Our responsibility is here and now
Pretty much every progressive I talk to have the same question: “What the hell is going on with these guys? Why won’t they fight?”
What we have here at best is incompetence and at worst collusion. I don’t have the answer. I do know we are not being served by our leadership. In fact, when it comes to Obama - most recently with the Warren appointment - we are usually betrayed. We deserve - and the country desperately needs - better.
I do know that our Wisconsin “Fab 14” and great progressive candidates like Jennifer Shilling appear to have what it takes and Obama should take a cue from what is happening here. But then, of course, this is the man who never once made it to the snowy streets of Madison when we were there in the frigid winter marching to preserve our democracy.
I also know we progressives need to demand more of our candidates and leaders and make it clear in unmistakable, forceful terms we are no longer to be taken for granted.
The national scene is beyond our control but our precious Wisconsin is our responsibility here and now. The outcome of the recall elections will be carefully watched. It would be nice to think they could nudge the quiet professor with the polished manicure in the White House to action, but I’m not that delusional.
No, the real gift of successful recalls would be to encourage and activate grassroots progressives across the country. Like a weed choked field in the spring, the cleansing fires of reform need to rejuvenate the Democratic Party - or lead to a third party.
Once the people lead, a few leaders will be forced to follow.
But don’t look over your shoulder for Barack, he already has his leaders, and it ain’t us.
Oh, No You Can’t
The following video was done during the 2008 election to support Obama and mock the Republican knee-jerk dismissal of Obama’s inspiring “Yes We Can” message.
Now, Obama is singing different lyrics and is in harmony with the characters in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gI7WwY4a9ro