April 2, 2009
Give Obama a Chance to Do What?
By Kevin Gosztola
IF IT WEREN’T FOR ALL THE EXCUSES BEING MADE for Obama’s and his administration’s actions, I would feel a whole lot better. I think others who suffered under the Bush Regime would too.
The populist anger across America is refreshing. People are angry and getting into it over issues that need to be deliberated over.
For all the problems America faces, its citizens do not have the time to give Obama a chance.
Americans should not just trust that Obama knows what he is doing. Political dithering should not be accepted on the basis that he eventually will get done what needs to be done. There are plans and policy proposals out there for doing what needs to be done now.
It does not make sense to give any president or leader no matter who he or she is a chance especially when giving that chance means letting a president or leader placate a public with wishful thinking, especially when it means brushing aside and hushing the populist rage that is currently inescapable in America.
When one says give Obama a chance, it means tens of thousands more troops deploy to the Middle East for wars of choice, not necessity. It means thousands redeploy for third and fourth tours of duty. It means maybe a million more brown people die, maybe trillions of more dollars are looted… and maybe some more no-bid contracts are given to dirty rotten private contractors.
When one says give Obama a chance, it means one more day where others have to listen to excuses on why America cannot investigate and prosecute the war criminals for torture, crimes against humanity, or war crimes. It means one more day when others have to deal with the reality that a constitutional law professor-in-chief lacks the moral fortitude to do what Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University, has the moral fortitude to do.
When one says give Obama a chance, it means allowing climate change, mountaintop removal mining, environmental racism, and an addiction to oil, coal, nuclear power continues unchallenged. It means further political manipulation of science so corporations can make profit at the expense of Mother Earth and the biological material which populates it.
When one says give Obama a chance, it means ICE raids. It means government secrecy and lack of transparency. It means a vicious erosion of civil liberties and constitutional rights continues.
When one says give Obama a chance, it means there will be one more online town hall meeting where the legalization of marijuana is a top question and it means that one more town hall meeting will be another time when Obama scoffs and patronizes tens of thousands of Americans. It means the war on drugs continues.
When one says give Obama a chance, it means our nation’s “pay or die” health care system continues and it means politicians consider instituting a hybrid of it instead of single-payer health care.
When one says give Obama a chance, it means more weeks where schools suffer under the No Child Left Behind Act. It means over-emphasis on standardized testing continues. It means militarization and corporatization of learning continues unchallenged by liberal intelligentsia and academic institutions nationwide.
When one says give Obama a chance, it means look out for Monsanto. It means “concentrated animal feeding operations” carry on. It means support for biotech and genetically modified or engineered food goes unchallenged.
When one says give Obama a chance, it means NAFTA and WTO keep on keeping on. It means unions fight for an Employee Free Choice Act because they know corporate dominance and bigotry toward unionization is unbeatable. It means more days of clocking in for a minimum wage instead of a living wage.
And, finally, giving Obama a chance means corporate criminals especially banksters on Wall Street get bailouts while corporations like GM, which makes cars with union jobs bear consequences Goldman Sachs and Citigroup will never face even though their schemes have been just as detrimental to the American people as GM or Chrysler’s have been. It means the Federal Reserve continues doing whatever it’s doing no questions asked.
What do those who wish to give Obama a chance cling to? What intangible change do they dream will take place?
Is it a withdrawal from Iraq or Afghanistan?
Obama chose to not vote on that on December 18, 2007, when there was a bill on the Senate floor dealing with redeployment of troops and training of Iraqi Security Forces. He also chose to not vote on May 22, 2008, when funding for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan came up for a vote. And, on September 20, 2007, he chose to not vote on the bill expressing support for General Petraeus and the Armed Forces.
Is it the development of alternative energy?
Obama chose to not vote on that on April 10, 2008, when a bill to extend tax credits to develop alternative energy came to the floor. He also chose to not vote on the Energy Act of 2007, which was a bill for increasing alternative fuel production and the alternative fuel economy.
Is it to end torture?
Obama chose to not vote on that on July 19, 2007, when a provision on the movement of Guantanamo detainees came up for a vote.
Is it to improve education?
On July 31, 2008, Obama chose to not vote on the Higher Education Amendment Act, which was a bill to increase the availability and amount of Pell grants.
Each of these pressing issues (the wars, energy independence, education, torture and U.S. violations of civil liberties) were issues Obama chose to not take a stance on while he was out running for president. Obama chose to take positions of political safety instead of positions of integrity.
Martin Luther King Jr said, “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” Why is Obama reluctant to mold consensuses?
Left or right, who cares. Positions need to be taken on issues that will solve dire problems this country faces.
Obama cannot bring change to Washington without being a challenging and transformative personality.
Obama cannot give us the change we need if every decision he makes is going to be dictated by what conventional wisdom deems to be the middle (and by conventional wisdom I mean those just slightly left of the hosts of “Fox & Friends”).
Obama cannot deliver if the people who elected him to office are reluctant to vigilantly offer constructive criticism, skepticism, and dismay as he tiptoes through the tulips—and by tulips, I mean, conservative Democrats and Republicans.
How can anyone demand people give Obama a chance and stand by as he creates gridlock in government by bending over backwards to look bipartisan?
Trying to bring people who were defeated at the polls in November along with him so those people can obstruct, decry, and veto Obama’s policies is lunatic. When one wins an election, he or she should run the damn country especially when the policy changes on the table are changes that were campaigned on during the election.
Unfortunately, much of what Obama is doing was done by Bush during his presidency. Obama is choosing continuity over controversy (“No Drama” Obama). It may have something to do with his background with the Democratic machine in Chicago.
So, why not be angry and critical toward Obama when he sends troops to continue the “war on terror” in Afghanistan like Obama supporters would have been when Bush was in power?
Why not fight for some kind of accountability and responsibility? It may be a lost cause with this cast and crew running the show, but without the uproar toward corporations and government officials suspected of crimes and misdemeanors, this country will make the institutionalization of lawlessness permanent. (It’s already temporarily taken hold).
This unity and support, which so many fervently call for—I don’t like it. It makes Obama into an authoritarian figure that I think subverts key tenets and principles of democracy.
So, if you want unity and a public that supports him unconditionally, I suggest you consider relocating to another less free, less democratic nation.
There’s no, “Can’t we all just get along?”
We who organized around “Yes We Can” deserve to be angry when we feel like we are being slapped silly by a presidency of “No, We Won’t.”
To echo Bill Maher, it’s time to be loyal to principles and not loyal to people.
Healthy skepticism and cynicism are necessary. The price of gullibility is far too steep.
Obama didn’t run for student council president. He ran for the President of the United States of America.
He will have to answer for all the decisions made now and also answer for the unchecked movements and trends that have been ongoing for decades and years. He will have to answer for the Clinton retreads he chooses to populate his administration.
When a president squanders political capital during a valuable opportunity to radically revitalize and re-envision a society spiraling downward, that president deserves to be criticized.
Until 2012, he’s responsible for the operations of the biggest empire on Earth.
Author’s Bio: Kevin Gosztola goes to Columbia College in Chicago where he is studying film. He is a YP4 2009 Fellow and is interested in becoming more involved in progressive leadership and using media for social change. Kevin Gosztola is a documentary filmmaker and also an At-Large Senator for the Student Government Association at Columbia College. On Columbia College’s campus, he is working to create a Student Civic Collective and increase funding and resources for political and social student organizations on campus. He is working to show students how they can use arts & media for social change and is the leader of Students for Media Reform at Columbia College (SMRCC).