Sep 28, 2011

Can Obama Deliver?

by Lorenzo Canizares

That’s a question in many people’s mind. Pundits are debating back and forth if the American Jobs Act (AJA) could be implemented or not. Have no doubts about it, it will be very important to regular common-folks if AJA was able to succeed. But knowing the cast of players we can safely suspect that if the bill passes it might not be as attractive as the original proposal. After all, Republicans see the solution to the economic crisis through gutting regulations, keeping taxes on the rich low, cutting government programs, and preventing inflation from diluting the wealth of the wealthy.

But, as important as it is, the drama of the bill should not be the main concern of the progressive movement. The main concern of the progressive movement is to continue doing what it has started doing – organize people to take independent action. If we get organized it will help all, including Obama. It will provide the American people the ability to express their frustrations through organized channels, and maximize their power. Occupy Wall Street has shown to the rest of us that anger is widespread. It’s much broader than just the working class, women, gays, and minorities. I sincerely believe progressives speak to what most Americans have on their mind, our inaction in organizing or total dependency on Obama’s appeal could be disastrous for the nation. Representative Peter DeFazio, Democrat from Oregon, says it correctly “In my district, the enthusiasm for him has mostly evaporated. There is tremendous discontent with his direction.” (NYT 9/11/11.) We are talking here about a district that Obama won by 11 points in 2008.

The United States political movement went through a major change when the people that were the backbone of Roosevelt’s support in the 1930-40’s labor and community struggles, were expelled from the AFL-CIO and also had to suffer the McCarthy period. After cleansing the labor movement of first class political activists there was a failure by the Democratic Party to step up to the plate and organize the American people against the ideological offensive being directed at them from conservative forces. Many Democrats couldn’t lead any fight back because many of them “agreed” with what the conservatives were saying.

Obama still has magnificent appeal. Even though columnist Charles Blow points out that according to a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released in early September, Obama’s approval as a leader have descended from 70 percent when he took office to 42 percent last month. But, a turnaround is not out of the question especially if he shows people that he has a backbone after all. He has promised to take the case of AJA to every corner of America. Progressives should wholeheartedly support that, and furthermore, be participant in organizing people to wherever he is going to be speaking at. As Paul Krugman recently stated “ I was favorably surprised by President Barack Obama’s new jobs plan, which is significantly bolder and better than I expected…If it actually became law, it would probably make a significant dent in unemployment.” We need to create a movement independent of the Democratic Party but this movement certainly needs to open its doors wide to include most of the people that are Democratic Party loyalists.

A large movement will make everybody pay attention to the issues. Part of the Tea Party beginning appeal to common-folks was because it looked strong and could get things done. The progressive movement needs to create the same image and also use the same intertwining that is used by the Tea Party regarding the Republican Party. There are many trying in earnest to organize the progressive movement towards action. All of these independent efforts, including theAFL-CIO, will not mean much if these efforts don’t find common ground to act together. Grouping of a few thousands will not inspire fear or reflection.After all, we are trying to solve the nation’s stagnation peacefully and constructively, and working in peace always requires more strength to get things accomplished.

One very positive aspect that have been developed in the past few weeks is that organizations are making a serious attempt to provide an ideological platform with which we can rally the American people around. The spread of these ideas are indispensable to energize the American people into action and provide direction on what to fight about.

The American Jobs Act is a very powerful tool. As Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, says “The plan, if enacted would boost economic growth next year by2% and create 2 million additional jobs.” Also as Jules Witcover has stated “AJA is designed , if the Republicans slam the door on it, to give Obama more tangible evidence that the opposition party is responsible for what he called the ‘circus’ of partisanship and inaction in Washington.” The American Jobs Act is also a clear indication that Obama has abandoned the belief that you can work with Republicans to improve the economic conditions of the country. Maybe,he is also finally getting ready to remind the nation how Clinton left a balanced budget and how Bush/Cheney turned this balanced budget into a $10.6trillion national debt, with an ongoing $1.3 trillion annual deficit. And that the Wall Street collapse, as well as Europe’s, originated through the same speculative housing bubble.

To conclude,Progressive forces need to come together under a minimum program that will be able to have massive appeal, come together with as many as people as we can from the Democratic Party that agree with the common points, and start working energetically to defeat the Republicans attempt to change the character of our nation.
If we organize and fight back with a minimum program of positive proposals we will win.