What Happened To Change We Were Supposed To Believe In?
“Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.” - Albert Einstein
MANY PROGRESSIVES VOTED for Barack Obama hoping that we would see national leadership that would greatly differ from that of his predecessor, George W. Bush. It has been over two years since that historic election and many progressives across the nation are asking, Where's the change?
For some of us our questions began last year after the idea of Medicare For All/Single Payer healthcare was taken off the table of the healthcare reform discussion. When single-payer healthcare advocates including physicians, nurses and labor activists asked Senator Max Baucus, chair of the Senate Finance Committee asking why he did this they were ejected from the Senate building and arrested by Capitol police. So much for more "transparency in government."
As a result of rejecting single-payer healthcare we are stuck with “health insurance reform,” a program that guarantees continued profiteering by the HMOs and other healthcare insurance monopolies!
The next issue that comes to mind is President Obama's continuation and escalation of the war in Afghanistan. To be sure, this is exactly what he promised to do. Along with the war in Afghanistan, however, the war in Iraq also continues. Despite some troop withdrawals, the U.S. military leaves behind unknown numbers of "advisers," mercenary contractors and covert operatives. The United States continues to throw away billions of precious dollars on two immoral, illegal, unjustified and unwinnable wars.
Other issues that are of concern to the Left/Progressive community include:
1) Obama's recent capitulation in not rescinding Bush's tax cut for the wealthy. His reasoning for this was "that a fight in Congress was not in the interest of either the economy or the American people!"
2) In two years the Obama administration has yet to come up with a progressive alternative to present immigration laws and policies. Thus a very unjust and racist immigration program continues to exclude people from Latin America, Africa and other people of color. President Obama has challenged Arizona's racist SB 1070 in the courts, but deportations are happening at a greater rate than under the GW Bush regime.
3) Despite organized labor's overwhelming support for Obama he gave up pushing for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, which is now dead with the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives. Workers in this country must face intimidation (much of it illegal), and other unnecessary obstacles to choosing a union for themselves.
4) While more and more people express opposition to the use of nuclear energy, President Obama continues supporting such, putting the environment and the people at risk for contamination – and announced the expansion of offshore deep-well oil drilling, until the BP oil disaster interrupted that project.
5) President Obama shields the Bush administration’s perpetrators of torture and war crimes, and contrary to his own promises has maintained the prison camp at Guantanamo.
Other issues of concern are his complicity in the coup that occurred in Honduras, as well as his support for the NAFTA style trade agreement with South Korea that will cost an estimated 159,000 U.S. jobs! Need I say more?
To the chagrin of more and more of their supporters, President Obama and the Democratic Party in general appear to have no will to fight for the interests of the people. While his apologists attribute this cowardice to "pragmatic strategy," the truth is that the Democrats receive millions if not billions of corporate dollars, and act accordingly.
It's clear that the political situation in this country is far from what is needed for social justice. For many progressives this is a very difficult issue. Many remain loyal to the Democratic Party clinging to hope that some day the party will somehow reform itself.
Evidence indicates, to the contrary, that if anything the Democratic Party has worsened over the past 30-40 years. It has become less "democratic," and more top-down and obedient to corporate capital. Many Democratic activists have discovered that to even get a progressive resolution passed at the state or national level – which will subsequently be ignored anyway -- practically requires an act of God. In Texas presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich was denied ballot status for the primary in 2008 because of his refusal to sign a loyalty oath!
Refusing to recognize this ugly reality will only serve as an obstacle to the nation achieving the justice we need and deserve. When the Democratic Party continues to promise us change, yet continues to betray us... well, something is clearly wrong -- definitely something wrong with the DP, also with those who choose to remain in denial of the facts.
The point of this article is not to insult or poke fun at anyone. The intent is to face up to reality. We have not only a choice, but an obligation to do what is best for ourselves, our communities and our nation.
In San Antonio, Solidarity is working with others to build a viable alternative to the sellout Democratic Party and the arrogance of the Republicans. Not to do so makes a mockery of everything we stand for. The U.S. left must set aside secondary differences and become a force for real change!
Pancho Valdez has been active in the civil rights, labor and peace movements since 1965. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 210-882-2230