Monday, January 19, 2009

Cautious Optimism and the Hard Work of Real Democracy

Am I happy that this is George W. Bush's last night in office? You bet. Do I think that Barack Obama will be an improvement from the last eight years? Absolutely. Do I think that he will solve all of our national an international crises? Nope. I am cautiously optimistic. I did vote for Barack Obama because I share many of the political and social values, as well as the policy changes, that he spoke to during his campaign: investing in education and reforming No Child Left Behind, investing in alternative fuels, affordable healthcare for all, etc.

So, why am I cautiuously optimistic instead of completely confident that this country is going to become a haven of social justice within the first 100 days of Obama's term? Here's why. Obama has and continues to be deeply entrenched in the corporate government that has left millions of Americans without access to healthcare, led America into the deepest econmic recession since the Great Depression, and allowed a war based on deceit and fear to take the lives of more than 4, 000 Americans and hundres of thousands of Iraqis (at least).

While millions of Americans donated to and volunteered for Obama's campaign, Obama also accepted millions of dollars from corporations that oppose the values he preached. Obama accepted millions of dollars from top Wall Street firms including Goldman Sachs -$955,223, JB Morgan Chase-$642,948, Citigroup-$633,418. No matter how well-intentioned Barack Obama may be about restoring the economy by bringing jobs to the middle-class, he will have lobbyists from these Wall Street firms reminding him daily of his debt to them.

So why am I evenly cautiously optimistic? Why am I not a complete pessimist ready to escape the country and take up the life of a disgruntled ex-patriot. I actually believe that at his core, Obama really does want to change policies so that all Americans have access to healthcare, teachers have the tools they need to educate the next generation, and that economy must be restored so that Wall Street does not bully Main Street. I also believe that he is a charismatic and competetive individual that is very susceptible to the thrill of power.

That is why it is so important that Americans who supported Obama with their $25 or $50 dollar donation do not allow him to cave to corporate interests that have already succeeded in dictating his appointments. There are some really great websites that are organizing citizen lobbying efforts. On inauguration day, celebrate your freedom an power by pushing your agenda. The corporate lobbyists are very powerful, but not as powerful as millions of citizens. Before I list these sites, I leave you with this thought by citizen activits Edward Abbey.

"A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government."

My America Project
Center for Constitutional Rights

Good luck and happy Martin Luther King Day.