Radical Solutions, Not Compromise, Needed

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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Comments

Robert Meeropol said it just right! Not being Bush is NOT good enough. We are in multiple crisises right now, in very large part due to GW and company. Small non controversial gestures will neither save us nor actually prevent conflict and win over the GOP. We all must write and email and call and fax what we want and that we want it now!

This is a good point to start a fruitful dialogue. I agree with the view that the time has come for demanding more radical solutions from the Obama administration. Little or nothing has been done to change the living conditions of the vast majority of poor people in this country, particularly in the big cities. Poor people, particularly minorities, are suffering as if Bush was still in the White House. Some are losing patience with the idea of waiting of things to work out…
Internationally, Obama’s policy pretty much follows the desires of the military-industrial complex. In the case of Honduras, to mention one, it is obvious that Obama has not exerted any control over the U.S. military officers and CIA personnel in that country of Central America. He has not even recalled the U.S. ambassador in Honduras. There is a universal feeling that this could be just the first step for the beginning of more and more adventures by military sectors in Latin America. Meanwhile, the movement is waiting to see when the “real change” is going to arrive. I guess that if we do not act, it would never come. Rafael

Unless we can wisely use our actions to stop this madness. First, we need to stop voting, as faith in this sham of a democracy not only consumes valuable time and energy, but helps to keep a failed system in place.
I know this is an unpopular view, but facing reality is not comfortable. We cannot alter this plutocracy by feeding it. We don't have all the time in the world to act, so I agree with Robert Meeropol.
Even if Barack Obama truly wanted to improve life on this planet, he is bound by his allegiance to Wall Street, and he'd be elininated if he stepped out of his role as spokesperson for the corporate power elite and their police / military protectors.
Encourage your friends and family to get news from independent sources, not corporate-supported news outlets. Gaining knowledge is the first step in laying the foundation of activism.

We must build a national independent political movement/Party
green, pink or violet to confront the common enemy-
transnationals and banks that unite all of the isses
justic and peace -exploitation and oppression/

perhaps with the leadership of Cynthia McKinney.
Dave Silver

As millions slip into unemployment, lose their homes, and lose their health insurance, I am amazed at the lack of a mass movement fighting for our economic and social well-being. What Obama needs is a strong mass movement pulling him to the Left. Lincoln could not have freed the slaves without a strong emancipation movement. Roosevelt could not have instituted his New Deal reforms without a strong labor movement and socialist movement. Without a strong mass movement now, Obama can do nothing but accommodate to the capitalists who still run things.

I agree with Robert. My most popular column as Community Advisory Board member of the Wilmington Delaware News Journal directly challenged capitalism and extolled the virtues of democratic socialism. For a reprint in Common Dreams, see
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/05/24
It is hard not to like Obama, but he is the best that the current system can produce, that is, a brilliant manager of the status quo.

"Radical Solutions, Not Compromise, Needed" is the title of this topic. Keeping the same system (presidential races; capitalism; getting someone else to represent your interests) does not constitute radical solutions. It is indeed compromise! Face it, folks! There's no justice; there's JUST US! I agree with Robert, so I'll repeat it like a mantra: Radical Solutions, Not Compromise, Needed!

Obama has asked for the peoples help from day one. He has told them nothing can be done without the people telling him what to do. He said that he’s listening. We the people need to stand up! This is the people’s country not only that of the extremely wealthy, and not only that of multinational corporations. The class divisions are widening. The people’s voices are defining. When we stand up we will try to be silenced. We must fight!
Yes, Obama is better than Bush. However he has shown that he’s afraid of a financial collapse by subscribing to Clintons old financial advisors and cushioning the collapse that still may happen. He would rather try to repair what has proven to be broken rather than let it all collapse and start over as Adam Smith would have recommended. Obama has been making his mistakes, and he will continue to make them unless we the people collectively push him.

Dear Friends, I'll respond collectively to those who have commented. I sense, both from the comments and from other conversations I had recently, that at least among the RFC constituency there is growing agreement that the time to give Obama a free pass is over (if there ever was such a time). And I know our people, increased progressive pressure on the Obama administration is inevitable.

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