The return to the political main stage by President Obama is a welcome relief from the toxic rhetoric and constant lies of the Trump/Pence Administration.
President Obama’s recent call to action for voters and movement builders was inspirational and powerful. However it was a careful political speech. The former President spoke about the dire challenges we face. He spoke of the better traditions of the Republican party and attempted to separate those long-standing conservative perspectives from the corrupt, extremist Trump/Pence Administration.
It was a brilliant speech—as it provided leeway for those in the GOP that embrace the traditional party values to join with moderates and pragmatic progressives in charting a new, better course for America. However it largely ignored the fact that even those in the GOP who might publicly express concern about Trump are still voting in lockstep for his Supreme Court nominees, his tax giveaways for the wealthy, the lack of fiscal discipline—his budget adding significantly to the national debt (remember when under President Obama that was a core issue—and the Federal Budget Sequestration?).
What President Obama failed to address, perhaps intentionally, is that we are at war—and we have been since the 1970’s. In fact, societal imperatives that could have been addressed in President Obama’s first term were constrained by his failure to understand that this is not the GOP of Presidents’ Lincoln or Eisenhower. This is an extremist version that will stop at nothing to implement legislation and policy intended to accomplish one of two objectives. They have ironically adopted Malcolm X’s words “by any means necessary”. Voter suppression, gerrymandering, voting machine vulnerabilities, dark money pouring into campaigns, media consolidation, propaganda masquerading as news, the erosion of education—are all attacks upon American society and democracy itself.
The primary objective in this ‘stealth’ war against America is to concentrate wealth thus perpetuating their power. The Koch brothers, the Walton family (WalMart heirs), Robert Mercer, Sheldon Adelson, Big Oil, and more are all beneficiaries of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans that began with the Reagan administration. And post-’Citizens United—any of the above can drop “pocket change”—$100 million dollars or more into a Congressional race, an issue, a statewide private school voucher initiative, fight against environmental protections, diminish Unions and collective bargaining rights etc. They know that for every $100 million dollar “investment” (or bribe as more properly characterized) they will get their money back tenfold.
The secondary objective is to keep us divided, distracted, and thus conquered. Few of the obscenely wealthy would care one iota if a young woman in Texas has access to a Planned Parenthood clinic. However—they masterfully weaponize religion to cause many to vote against their own self-interests in order to support candidates that declare themselves as “pro-life”—or “forced-birthers”—as is more accurate. They work to suppress voters, gerrymander districts to perpetuate power, and act in other sinister ways to undermine democracy -while rabidly attacking Colin Kaepernick as ‘unpatriotic’. They claim to be “pro-life” -yet have never seen an AR-15 they didn’t like -and will gleefully welcome the NRA to divide Americans with ridiculous claims about Democrats coming for their guns, or “illegal aliens” pouring into America for the express purpose of selling drugs to our children (Big Pharma hates competition) and raping wives and daughters.
The current war front has shifted from destroying the Affordable Care Act to public education (where teachers in Arizona have been on the front lines in the #RedforEd campaign -and the Koch brothers are pouring money into ballot initiatives and State/Local races), social security, Medicare, and public lands and coastlines. And soon -another massive tax giveaway for the wealthy will likely be initiated.
By failing to recognize that this is an all-out war -the quality of the average American life will continue to be diminished -and worse -that of our children and grandchildren -and generations yet to come. Future generations will pay through greater economic anxiety, eroding worker protections, a severely weakened education system, the loss of voting rights, polluted air and water, and increasing violence.
We are at a time when we must all cast aside labels that are used to divide us—and unite on the American future we all want. Equal rights and justice. Economic opportunities and fairness. Feeling safe in our homes, our communities and in our travel—regardless of the color of your skin, what you believe, who you love, or your gender. Breathable air and drinkable water. A public education system that will ignite a fire for a lifetime of learning in the next generation—so they are well-equipped to address the challenges they will face together; and properly compensates and values teachers who are charged with inspiring young minds. A universal healthcare system that produces great patient outcomes while being cost-effective (as opposed to our present, spiraling cost, poor outcome system).
A pragmatic balance in preserving the beauty of America while meeting our demands for energy and natural resources safely. A fair, progressive tax system that encourages investment in our infrastructure, fairness in economic growth, and investment in our future. A justice system that prioritizes all people and planet over plunder and profit. Recognizing that the “Reagan war on drugs” has actually been a war on people of color and our impoverished—and should be addressed by treatment programs -not incarceration and disenfranchising citizens. A fair system of immigration that embraces the meaning of the Statue of Liberty—and does not separate children from their families and commit human rights abuses. A coherent foreign policy and support for the principles of the United Nations and human rights.
While again—I embrace former President Obama’s inspiring speeches and welcome him on the 2018 campaign trail—if we fail to recognize this as a long war, we may win a few battles, but we will ultimately lose -and our losses will shape the quality of life and potential for generations of Americans. We must, at an absolute minimum, vote.
We must protect the Mueller investigation and we must win the battle for 2018. However we must not rest on our laurels -we must begin to prepare for what winning 2018 will unleash against us. We must have candidates ready for EVERY race, from local School Boards, City Council, Mayor to Congressional candidates and President. And we must know that the obscenely wealthy will do all they can to divide us on our next Presidential nominee—by whatever means necessary. We have had two terms of Reagan, two terms of Bush/Cheney and now—the most corrupt Administration ever—all predicated upon their success in getting us to vote against our self-interest -or not vote at all.
We must be focused on the America we want for our families and not allow ourselves to be divided and conquered. And in 2020—if we succeed—we need comprehensive and sweeping legislation and policy changes to prevent anything like the Trump/Pence Administration from happening again.