Saturday, June 07, 2008

Defining the Candidates - Professor Obama

As the Republicans make their inevitable attacks on Barack Obama as "inexperienced", there are some things the voters should be aware of, but that the conservative corporate media is not going to tell them.

First lets remember that many of the scandals of the Bush administration came out of the fact that he neither knows nor cares about the law. Bush is a CEO president with a background in business. He has open disdain for lawyers, who are the primary mechanism for we the people to redress grievances with business. Bush's ignorance and disdain for the law is reflected in his actions and his exercising of illegal powers, like torture, or the pushing through the Patriot Act which gives the President the unconstitutional power to take away any citizen's rights. This illegal and unconstitutional power-grab by the executive branch is a serious threat to our freedoms and our Democracy. This is understood by all liberal activists and many lifelong conservatives, but because of the partisan "division" which is perpetuated by the corporate media in this country, there is not yet enough reaching across the aisle to work together toward what we know are common goals that would benefit all Americans.

The conservative corporate media has been promoting the idea that Barack Obama is an "unknown" and they used the Rev Wright "scandal" to start referring to Senator Obama as "the black candidate". Instead of fulfilling it's responsibility to the public to inform us and tell us who he is, the corporate media choose instead to lead us along with nebulously scandalous declarations that the people "don't know who he is". Of course they don't know who he is, because after a year and a half of campaigning the media still hasn't properly informed the public about who he is!

Why?

Because simply informing us is not as profitable as sensationalism.

Here are some of the facts about Barack Obama that the corporate media has been ignoring that may help you understand who he is:

  • Barack Obama is the son of a black father and a white mother. He is as much a "white candidate" as he is a "black candidate".
  • Barack was raised by his mother in a lower middle class household in a mostly white community in small town Kansas.
  • Barack Obama put himself through college with his own ability and hard work, using scholarships and working numerous jobs to pay the bills.
  • Barack Obama is an attorney and a Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago.
  • Barack Obama started in politics as a community organizer in Chicago and his whole campaign has been founded on the values of community organizing and citizen involvement in politics.

Because of its foundation in community organizing, the Obama campaign is more than just a campaign to elect one person. It is a movement to get citizens involved in the political process which is so necessary for us to take back out Democracy. Voting is not enough! If you want your Democracy to work right then you have to get involved! Getting involved means a lot of things. It could mean getting involved by joining a party, participate in setting the agenda and picking the candidates. Getting involved also means learning how to organize with our fellow citizens effectively and one you organize, how to effectively lobby our representatives to pursue your causes. Our represenatives can only represent us if they know what we want.

Hillary lost because she made her campaign about mostly one individual... Hillary. She constantly talked about herself, her experience and what she would do for us. Barack Obama's campaign is about us... all of us. It is about America and it's future and empowering We the people to take back our Democracy. That is why the Rev Wright attacks did little to slow down Obama's growing support, because his campaign is not about one man alone. Many Republicans still have not figured this out and they will continue with character attacks that just will not work. As one Republican talking head who does get it said, "Obama is not a butterfly, he is bulletproof."

If you are one of those people who believes that if only we could get the right people to run for office, they would fix all our problems and everything would be better, then I have news for you.

It is never going to happen.
There will never be one person who gets elected and solves all our problems.

It is when We the people get involved in our own Democracy, that our problems get addressed.

There is a historical pattern here that most people are not seeing. The cycle of freedom in America has not been about the individuals we read about in history class, like Thomas Jefferson, Abe Lincoln or FDR. The thing that happened at the same time those people were in office was a great influx of public participation in the political process.

The Tax Acts from British Parliment effected the daily lives and local economies of many American colonists and thus motivated a large number of people to find some way to act out. The Boston Tea party wasn't committed by founding fathers alone. The 13 states were not each convinced to join in union against the British by just a few men, but rather because enough people got involved who also demanded change.

The same thing happened when slavery because such a hot issue that the nation erupted in a civil war. People did more than fight during and after the civil war. Again, the daily lives of so many average citizens was so impacted that many of those who came home from fighting or didn't fight got involved in the political process and started movements of people for causes.

Again, after the depression and into WW2, so many people's lives were effected that they wanted to do something, to act somehow, and so they got involved in their communities and the political process. Many movements were started or gained surges in membership during and after that period. FDR's many public works projects also brought many citizens into the workings of government and got then involved. Thus the period from WW2 to the 1980s was the greatest period of prosperity and wealth America has ever seen. In the 1980s, government became the enemy and the people stopped participating in our Democracy. Ronald Reagan famously declared that "Government is not the solution, government is the problem."

People who do not believe in government cannot govern effectively. That is why Reagan ran up the largest national debt in history at the time. He has since been overshadowed in fiscal irresponsibility by G.W. Bush because he took the same conservative anti-government ideology one step further. Now we have an era of private mercinary armies that pose as much a threat to our freedoms as any rouge nation.

Barack Obama knows history and he understands this cycle and he knows that what needs to happen for America to make the recovery we all want to see, we are all going to have to start getting involved in our communities. Barack organized his campaign in such a way to help enable the kind of community organization that empowers us. That is why his campaign has been about inspiration and he spoke so much not about himself, but about the possibilities of what we can achieve if we work together.

The presidential campaign of Howard Dean was a similar precursor of this phenomenon and as a result the Dean for America movement survived the 2000 election cycle and grew into Democracy for America, which is now a nationwide organization going around teaching citizens how to get involved in our Democracy. They hold classes regularly and if you are one of those who is waking up and wants to find out how to get active, I recommend you check them out.

When the Republicans inevitably attack Barack Obama on "experience", ask yourself this: What kind of experience do I want a President to have?
Do I want a President who knows and respects the law, like Barack Obama? Or do I want a President who is willing to break even a law bearing his own name, as John McCain is doing? Do I want a President who wants citizens to get involved in the political process or one who just wants us to go shopping?
Do I want a President who's campaign is full of corporate lobbyists, like John McCain's? Or do I want a President who's campaign is staffed and funded by We the people, individual citizens acting out of a sense of social responsibility?

We have tried the President we wanted to have a beer with and who ran the country like a business, now America knows it is time we try a President who could teach a class in Constitutional law and who represents the unique and varied nature of modern American society.

After 8 years of a President with open disdain for the law America is ready for a President who knows and respects the law.

Barack Obama has the right kind of experience for America.

No comments: