Friday, May 30, 2008

Obama for a New American Majority

From January 12th, 2008

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I support Barack Obama because I believe he would change the system. He also has great stances on many other issues which I have wrote about. However you can't get anything done if you don't build coalitions. In electoral politics on the national level you have to create a massive political coalition to be able to get you're agenda into law. There were two major political coalitions that have held power in the 20th century, FDR's New Deal Coalition and Reagan's Conservative Coalition. 27 years of conservative rule has put the middle class on the death bed and America has had enough. But will the Democratic presidental canidate be able to create a New American Majority to bring in a new era of progressive government? Out of the current crop, I think Barack Obama is the most likely too. Let me explain why.

First of all, he actually talks about it, quite a bit in fact. Lets take for example his post-New Hampshire speech.

You can be the new majority who can lead this nation out of a long
political darkness - Democrats, Independents and Republicans who are
tired of the division and distraction that has clouded Washington; who
know that we can disagree without being disagreeable; who understand
that if we mobilize our voices to challenge the money and influence
that's stood in our way and challenge ourselves to reach for something
better, there's no problem we can't solve - no destiny we cannot
fulfill.

Our new American majority can end the outrage of unaffordable,
unavailable health care in our time. We can bring doctors and
patients; workers and businesses, Democrats and Republicans together;
and we can tell the drug and insurance industry that while they'll get
a seat at the table, they don't get to buy every chair. Not this
time. Not now.

Our new majority can end the tax breaks for corporations that ship our
jobs overseas and put a middle-class tax cut into the pockets of the
working Americans who deserve it.

We can stop sending our children to schools with corridors of shame
and start putting them on a pathway to success. We can stop talking
about how great teachers are and start rewarding them for their
greatness. We can do this with our new majority.

We can harness the ingenuity of farmers and scientists; citizens and
entrepreneurs to free this nation from the tyranny of oil and save our
planet from a point of no return.

And when I am President, we will end this war in Iraq and bring our
troops home; we will finish the job against al Qaeda in Afghanistan;
we will care for our veterans; we will restore our moral standing in
the world; and we will never use 9/11 as a way to scare up votes,
because it is not a tactic to win an election, it is a challenge that
should unite America and the world against the common threats of the
twenty-first century: terrorism and nuclear weapons; climate change
and poverty; genocide and disease.

But beyond what the canidate has to say I want to talk specifically about a article by Matthew Kohut entitled "The Coming Liberal Cycle".

So what are the conditions that can bring in a kind of fundamental change?

Crisis of Confidence

Each cycle was precipitated by a crisis of public confidence. In the case of the Liberal Era, the Great Depression represented the most profound failure of government in American history besides the Civil War. The late 1970s, while nowhere near as dire, still rank as the hardest times of the last half-century. At home, Americans faced double-digit inflation and interest rates and waited hours in line for gasoline. New York City teetered on the verge of bankruptcy, while the Rust Belt rotted. In foreign affairs, the Iranian hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan served as harsh evidence that the world saw the U.S. as a paper tiger.

Today we are headed for a recession, the middle class that the New Deal build has been destroyed by the conservative War against the Middle Class. Our national debt is exploding. The neoconservative forign policy has failed and made America more hated then it ever has been. Economic disaster, violence around the world. We may not be headed for a great depression. But times have certainly been better.

Standard Bearer

The crisis set the stage for the emergence of a standard bearer with a new vision and a mandate for change. By 1932, the country was ready for anything that was not more of Hoover. FDR arrived with a plan to put the country back to work, one that would give a much bigger role to the federal government. At the dawn of the 1980's, Ronald Reagan brought the mirror opposite vision to Washington: government was not a solution to the problem -- government was the problem. He also espoused a staunch anti-Communism that manifested itself in a military build-up and a renewed emphasis on American strength. While in one sense FDR and Reagan were ideological opposites, both restored a fresh sense of optimism to a weary public.

By the time the standard bearers each left office, they had succeeded in getting the country back on track, and in doing so won the love of the majority. In a democracy, of course, love is never unanimous. Some always suspected that the cult of personality surrounding them was evidence of a fraud (Reagan) or demagogue (FDR). In the rear-view mirror, though, it was clear that each understood the public's mood in its moment of need, and consequently each was able to shift the political landscape in a way that cast a very long shadow for his successors.

Who better then a man who's father was a Kenyan economist and who's mother was a international aid worker to end the forign policy mess? Who better then someone who has organized those left out even in "good" economic times to bring us out of this economic mess?

He then notes the heir apparent presidents (Truman and Bush) and their failures, then the "midcourse" correction president (Ike and Clinton) who governed from the opposite ideology and therefore didn't make many fundamental changes and finally the "Overreach" presidents (Johnson and Bush). But that's all history. What will happen now?

The Coming Cycle

If the notion that we have reached the end of the conservative era proves correct, the question still remains what will replace it. Has the public reached a crisis of confidence where it is ready to embrace a new standard bearer? While polls show great public dissatisfaction with the Bush administration, Congress, and the direction of the country, the current predicament bears little resemblance to 1932 or 1980. The issue this year is not the economy, stupid. Ours is a time of insecurity, not mass deprivation.

Assuming the public is ready, can one of these candidates articulate a coherent vision to lead the country into a new era? All of them come armed with plans: plans for health care, plans for troop withdrawal from Iraq, plans for restoring the middle class. But standard bearers bring more than an armful of three-ring binders to the Oval Office: they bring an overarching concept of the role government should play to address the challenges of the day. One defining characteristic of the age of insecurity is our interdependence on others. We are tied to a relentlessly competitive global economy that creates winners and losers among us. We face global threats like terrorism, pandemics, and environmental catastrophes. We are at the mercy of increasingly tight global markets for oil and gas. Our insecurities are also home grown, of course, as health care and the subprime mortgage meltdown spell disaster for increasing numbers of Americans. The politician who can synthesize these problems within a big picture and offer a positive way forward is the one who may become the next standard bearer.

Finally, he or she must have the personal magnetism to inspire the American people to follow. Charisma alone is not enough to make a standard bearer -- Bill Clinton and Jack Kennedy both had plenty -- but it's hard to imagine FDR or Reagan pushing through their sweeping agendas without it.

Much as liberals would like to believe that the next cycle will begin in November 2008, they should note that it took 16 years from Goldwater's emergence as the national firebrand of the new conservatism in 1964 to Reagan's election in 1980. Will Howard Dean one day assume Goldwater-like stature as the cranky godfather of a Second Liberal Era? (Before you laugh, contrast Goldwater's standing in 1968 with more recent reappraisals of his importance to the conservative movement.) Do the seeds of a new liberalism already live somewhere among the "netroots" movement, or the Truman progressives who seek to reclaim the mantle of vigorous liberal internationalism? Is the time just not right?

Think back to what the leading Democrats say about why they're running. Of the three, only Obama clearly acknowledges the present opportunity in visionary terms: "We find ourselves in a moment that comes along once in a generation." It sounds like the rhetoric of an aspiring standard bearer. If he overcomes the current odds and wins the presidency, he will get his chance to make the most of this moment.

(emphasis added)

We have such a opportunity. If we seize on this moment we could fundamentally change America for a generation. Hell, maybe this time Obama will actually pick a VP that can carry on the cycle and we will have more then 50 years of progressive government.

Corruption, attacking Social Security, Terri Schiavo, Iraq. All that and more have made many independents and Republicans who were Bushies rethink their party and political beliefs. Those recovering Republicans are most attracted to Obama. The youth of the nation that have been so long inactive in politics are breaking records and coming out for Obama. People who have never voted, never been involved in politics, they are flooding to Obama. Millions of people that wouldn't normally support a Democrat much less a progressive one are supporting Barack Obama. Once you get people to go that far they start to think and they might just vote for another Democrat. And then they might decide that the Democratic Party isn't so bad after all and they might become committed progressives and if you get enough people to do that you can transform a nation.

As John Kerry said in endorsing Obama:

"Barack Obama has the greatest potential to lead a transformation, not just a transition"

Barack Obama has the potential to create a New American Majority and transform American politics. This is what we've been fighting for, a new majority. A progressive era. Isn't that what we want? I'm 14 and I want to be able to grow up in a during a progressive era were we value work not wealth, service not being a superpower. I want to be able to raise a family in a world that values people and that cares about people.

Barack Obama has the potential to bring about that kind of world. That's why I'm supporting him and that's why I'm working my ass off for him. And I hope you'll join my in supporting him. Get out and canvass, make calls, blog. Anything and everything. And if you want to give a little change for change, please consider dropping it into my Obama jar. Me and my generation would much appreciate it.

Si Se Puede! - Yes We Can!

1 comment:

The Young Sentinel said...

Hi

This is Eyck Freymann from www.youngsentinel.com, a blog like yours. We have several contributors from around the country, including Duncan Hosie of Kids for Change. We have both tried to contact you about a joint blog effort, but I don't know if you've got the emails.

Contact me at eyck@youngsentinel.com.

Obama 2008!