Over the last six months I’ve discussed the progress of the Obama administration with hundreds of friends and RFC community members. The views I’ve encountered fall into two general categories.
The first group says, “Give the guy some breathing room. He’s so much better than Bush was or McCain would have been. He’s doing what he can with the material he’s got to work with [meaning Congress] and the forces he’s up against [powerful, entrenched and well-financed corporate interests, and their Republican and Democratic allies]. If he were to push more radical proposals it would cause a backlash and he’d accomplish nothing. And it’s a pleasure to have a hard-working intelligent leader we can be proud of who speaks in complete sentences.”
The second says, “Being better than Bush is not good enough. Obama sounds good, but his actions are not. The ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq aside, his human rights record (Guantánamo, torture, detention, black site prisons, etc.) is abysmal. His inaction on LGBT rights is more than disappointing. His environmental legislation started out timid and ended up pitiful. The Wall Street fox is guarding the financial henhouse. His refusal to back single-payer healthcare means that any ‘reform’ bill that passes will have little positive impact.”
I fall into the latter camp. I believe we’re in a radical moment, a time when caution is a guarantee of failure. Kevin Baker, in an article in the July 2009 issue of Harper’s Magazine, put it well when he wrote that the Obama administration is “espousing a ‘pragmatism’ that is not really pragmatism at all, just surrender to the usual corporate interests. The common thread running through all Obama’s major proposals right now is that they are labyrinthine solutions designed mainly to avoid conflict. … They bear the seeds of their own defeat.”
If that is right, the quagmire we are in will only deepen. The worsening conditions will demand not more compromise, but more mass organizing, agitation and conflict. And I don’t doubt for a minute that there will be an upsurge of activism which will create a new generation of potential RFC beneficiaries, and that current RFC families will be on the front lines. The need for our aid will grow dramatically.
There are many ways that you can help us to meet this emerging challenge. Your contributions are always welcome, but you can also help us by spreading the word about the RFC’s mission to your friends and community. Send them to our website – easy to do by clicking the links to “Tell a friend about us” (upper left corner) or “Email this page” (bottom, center) on every page of this site. And get them on our mailing list (our site also has easy email and surface mail sign-up forms on every page).
Help us to build the RFC and prepare for the onslaught.
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