Everyone is so critical of Obama, but I find the things he says very reasonable and I just don’t understand the animosity he arouses (unless it is racist). He gave a speech today about America’s path to a solid economic future which contained nothing in the least objectionable. He believes that America will lose the character and philosophical underpinnings that make America a unique nation if we allow all of the wealth of the nation to become concentrated in the hands of a few Americans while the economic health of the middle class continues to decline. He spoke about how we are a nation that relies on consumerism to thrive and that in order to preserve our place among the nations of the world and continue to be competitive we must have a prosperous middle class. He tried to take the long view and think about what we need to do to keep America at the top of the global economy. He reminds us that the middle class is not necessarily feeling the recent recovery that is happening in other areas of the economy. And he believes that if we don’t do what we need to do to boost the middle class we will end up a backwater nation in the global culture that is coming.
Obama did not tick off any agenda items for America that are in any way bizarre or unusual. If the Republicans were not so determined to hate him they would have to admit that these are the areas that need improvement to guarantee the health of the middle class and of America. It is possible that we could find some ways to make our nation’s success less dependent on consumerism and that this might change the urgency to develop some of these areas but Obama did not suggest any changes in our national values that would turn us into a less consumer-oriented culture. He seems to believe that the consumerism of the middle class is exactly what is needed to keep America ticking along.
He recommended concentrating on education and training (once again mentioning the importance of preschool). He recommended spending on infrastructure. He listed the necessity of continuing to look for alternative energy sources, and the need for businesses to offer higher wages and benefits, especially given recent attacks on labor unions. Not once did Obama mention an urgent need to cut the debt and the deficit or the need to do away with the social safety net or to make government really, really small. He did mention that if we worked together we could find ways to cut programs that are not working and to streamline the social safety net programs so that we would not have to plan to ignore the poor and the disabled. He feels that we will come to value the Affordable Care Act because it ends the absolute control the insurance companies had over health care that allowed them to refuse to cover people with preexisting conditions, and because it offers insurance for young people who often can’t afford it, and it covers people who have been too poor to have insurance. He reminded us that we have never been an “it’s all about me” nation, but have always believed that we have a duty to lift up those who are less fortunate than us. He did not believe that we would ever want to become that totally “me” focused nation. I just don’t understand how anyone can object to this agenda.
What I hear news commentators saying is that Obama cannot deliver any of these things he is talking about but Obama admitted that he is not running for any other office, and that he is taking a long view. At the end of those 1276 days he will be 44 and he should be set for life. He will still be an American though and as an America he will not want to watch America be satisfied with a place at the edge of the global market place. He is not sure what will be accomplished over the next 1276 days, but he believes that this makes a great long term agenda for America and he hopes that future governments will build on these areas and that the people will help offer creative approaches that allow us to do this.
How will we fight our way out from under the strident insistence of the Right that we need to have all private schools funded by vouchers, we need vouchers for health care, and we need to cut all other social programs, although they do express some distaste at cutting loose old folks (perhaps thinking of their grandparents, you know). They do seem to think that old people are retiring too soon and that they need to work longer, that they are relying on the government to take care of them in their years and are therefore not saving and planning ahead. They really want to cut loose the poor and those who they feel are freeloaders and let them make a greater effort to make something of themselves. They believe that the churches will pitch in and take care of the poor and the disabled and the addicted and the aged as they did (very ineffectively) before we had a social safety net. Many of our churches are limping along as it is and are probably aghast at the prospect of being called on to provide the millions of services we are talking about. It is not realistic.
I do not see the American people gathering together to help restore health to the middle class or to talk about whether they really think voting to repeal health care 38 times and overturning Roe v. Wade and not paying America’s debts and getting rid of labor unions (especially for teachers) and closing the IRS but still collecting taxes are things that will improve the health of America. Even if some people want to repeal health care, end abortions and refuse to pay debts, I assume they are not the highest priority items on their list, and yet they are priorities for Conservatives. Perhaps wealthy Americans plan to take their money out of America and no longer pay any taxes to the nation and they are just preparing us for the inevitable. Can we afford the social safety net without them? We certainly can’t right now given the economic loses the middle class has suffered. Someone needs to draw a word picture of what America will be like if we follow the agenda of those on the Right. I don’t think that country will in any way resemble the America we know and love.
After watching Rachel Maddow last night I guess we will get a preview, a peek of this Conservative nirvana if we keep an eye on North Carolina, a state with a Republican majority in all branches of its government, a state which is passing some unusual laws such as, all seventh graders will have to be taught that if they have an abortion they will not be able to have any more babies, and all millionaires will receive a $10,000 check. Now just take a moment to roll your eyes and say “what?”