The Team Obama Should Have Picked

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More and more people may soon feel that the “choice” was not deep enough to be meaningful, except in the narrowest of senses. 

An Administration in Search of a Progressive   

    

      The Team Obama Should Have Picked 

      By RAMZI KYSIA | [print_link]

      I feel cheated. I feel betrayed. And I’m not even a Democrat.

      OUR NATION hasn’t yet finished counting all the election returns, but the outlines of a future Obama Administration are already clear: Clinton at State, Geithner at Treasury, Summers to head the National Economic Council, Holder at Justice, Emmanuel as Chief of Staff, General James Jones as the likely National Security Advisor, and Robert Gates likely to stay on at Defense.

There is not a single progressive among them. Not even one. If Obama was vague about his personal politics during the primaries and general election it was for a reason: he doesn’t have any.

      I’m not sure what I honestly expected, but I know it wasn’t this. In the history of American politics we’ve had quite a few “conservative” administrations that didn’t do much of anything save look after the interests of the powerful. We’ve had corrupt administrations, and reactionary administrations. We’ve seen the appointment of so-called centrists, alongside people so far to the right (Al Haig, James Watt, Ellen Sauerbrey, John Bolton, among many others) that they make Attila the Hun look liberal. But we’ve seldom seen anyone who even mildly represents working-class America.

      Obama is as close to a complete outsider as has ever been elected to the White House. His personal history and cultural narrative are unique and compelling. His rhetoric is uplifting. He has been elected by the largest margin of victory in twenty years. His party comfortably controls both houses of Congress. His campaign energized millions and created an incredible network of volunteers across the country who can now be called upon for continued political action. And, beyond these things, our nation now faces economic and foreign policy crises that have even our elites worried, and looking for fresh approaches.

      With all these advantages, if Obama can’t find it in him to name even one person from the so-called “Democratic wing” of the Democratic Party, then it isn’t because he’s a coward, and it isn’t because he’s reaching out to conservatives – it’s because he doesn’t want to.

     I’m a radical. I’m an anarchist and a pacifist, and I didn’t expect Obama to name bell hooks as Secretary of State, or make Amy Goodman his Communications Director, or install Michael Albert at Treasury. I’m not a fool. I expected him to reward his political supporters. Napolitano at DHS and Daschle at HHS are no surprise, and they may even do well in those positions. I hope so. I did expect Obama to name moderate Republicans and centrist Democrats to some positions as well. He should, if he intends to build a new movement in American politics. But not these people, and not just these people. With Henry Kissinger and Bill Kristol endorsing Obama’s team – you know we’re in for trouble.

      Our nation is lost, and the problem with the team Obama is putting together isn’t simply that they’ve generally supported (or at least acquiesced to) the Bush agenda for the last eight years – it’s that they have no vision, and they leave us with seemingly no direction home.

      This election was an opportunity that is quickly being squandered. In the space of three weeks we’ve gone from change we can believe in to no change at all, and I for one feel as though I’ve been utterly betrayed.

      Some of my friends have asked me what I really expected from Obama. I don’t know, but this is what I’d hoped for. President-elect Obama, if you should read this, pay attention because this is what I thought you were promising, and it’s why I’m so heartbroken today:

      The team Obama should have picked

      Secretary of State: Joseph Stiglitz

      Deputy Secretary: Tony Hall 

      Secretary of the Treasury: Tom Campbell

      Deputy Secretary: Gar Alperovitz 

      Secretary of Defense: Chuck Hagel

      Deputy Secretary: Lawrence Korb 

      Attorney General: Gabrielle Kirk McDonald

      Deputy Attorney General: Joel Rogers 

      Secretary of the Interior: Douglas LaFollette 

      Deputy Secretary: David Baron 

      Secretary of Agriculture: Dolores Huerta

      Deputy Secretary: Jill Long Thompson 

      Secretary of Commerce: Roxanne Qualls

      Deputy Secretary: Michael Shuman 

      Secretary of Labor: Maria Echaveste

      Deputy Secretary: John Cavanaugh 

      Secretary of Health and Human Services: Tom Daschle

      Deputy Secretary: Sidney Wolfe 

      Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: Angela Glover Blackwell 

      Deputy Secretary: Elliott Sclar 

      Secretary of Transportation: Shelley Poticha

      Deputy Secretary: Janette Sadik-Khan 

      Secretary of Energy: Claudine Schneider

      Deputy Secretary: Amory Lovins 

      Secretary of Education: Angela Valenzuela

      Deputy Secretary: Geoffrey Canada 

      Secretary of Veterans Affairs: Max Cleland

      Deputy Secretary: Isiah Legget 

      Secretary of Homeland Security: Janet Napolitano

      Deputy Secretary: Mary Schiavo 

      Chief of Staff: David Bonior

      National Security Advisor: Dr. Anne Cahn

      Ambassador, United Nations: Susan Rice

      Chair, National Economic Council: Robert Reich

      Director, Immigration and Naturalization Service: Bill Ong Hing

      Director, Environmental Protection Agency: Robert Kennedy, Jr. 

      First Supreme Court Nomination: Mari Matsuda


      Ramzi Kysia is an Arab-American writer and activist. He’s currently working with the Free Gaza Movement to break the siege of the Gaza Strip.

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