Looking Forward

fdr and barackDeficit Commission, More War, Tax Cuts

Before the end of his first term, President Franklin Roosevelt denounced “the economic royalists.” He said: “They are unanimous in their hate for me — and I welcome their hatred.
FDR did not say, “They hate me — and I want them to like me.”
Today, we need much more willingness to push back against the Republican Party’s right-wing ideologues and the forces they represent.

Contrary to the conventional media wisdom, the Obama administration did not “overreach.” Far from it.

After the grim national election, I wrote about The Tragedy of Under-Reaching. We need principled backbones in high places — and stronger progressive activism at the grassroots. (If you’d like to watch my post-election appearance on C-SPAN, when I discussed these issues, click here.)

In moral and electoral terms, the status quo is indefensible. Grim economic realities include high unemployment, routine home foreclosures, and widening gaps between the wealthy and the rest of us — in tandem with endless war and runaway military spending.

It was very sad to read the news that McClatchy Newspapers broke last week: “The Obama administration has decided to begin publicly walking away from what it once touted as key deadlines in the war in Afghanistan in an effort to de-emphasize President Barack Obama’s pledge that he’d begin withdrawing U.S. forces in July 2011.”

Escalation of warfare in Afghanistan is running parallel to escalation of class war — waged from the top down — in Washington. Deficit Commission co-chairs Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles are pushing scenarios that would undermine Social Security, while all sorts of contorted rationales are in the air for continuing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

Let’s get a grip on matters of principle.

More and more warfare in Afghanistan? Extending massive tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations? Pushing plans to slash Social Security and Medicare? Pretending that “clean coal” is not an oxymoron? Failing to uphold habeas corpus and other precious civil liberties? . . .

The best way to fight the Republican Party is to stop giving ground to it.

The best way to defeat right-wing xenophobic “populism” is to build genuine progressive populism. In the process, we can draw on the spirit of the New Deal.

Back in the 1930s, FDR — and millions of progressive activists of the day — fought for economic equity. Today, our scope of understanding has grown to include more dimensions of social justice and ecological imperatives.

These days, progressives have plenty of reasons to feel discouraged. But we have a lot more good reasons to rededicate ourselves to the vital tasks ahead.

A much better world is possible.

Si se puede!

Norman Solomon

Norman Solomon is co-chair of the Healthcare Not Warfare campaign, launched by Progressive Democrats of America. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.”


  1. Joe Weinstein says

    Obama, unlike FDR, hates fighting, and moreover every day makes clearer that above all he wants to be accepted by Republicans, (whether or not his sellout policies are acceptable to Democrats).

    A century ago Francisco Madero sent out the call to his Mexican countrymen to reject sellout president Porfirio Diaz:

    Today, as very little time remains for Obama to demonstrate that he is NOT a sellout president, we must prepare to insist:

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