Robert Reich could not have said it any better. A lot of support for the president was actually lost from those that wanted more. Many seem to believe that sitting out will be punishment to this President for not “fighting as hard” as he could for more of what they believe they elected him for. Note that the President is wealthy and will survive a loss just fine and wealthier than most. The problem is that most will not survive his loss whole.
Many progressives believe they did not get the public option or a single payer healthcare system. They did not get Guantanamo closed. They did not get a real reinstitution of the Glass Steagall Act. They did not get real help for homes in foreclosures. I could itemize much more.
I can however state that much was accomplished by laying the groundwork on all the above mentioned issues and more. One of the problems however is that during the debates on many of these issues while the Right Wing obstructers were well organized with much corporate influence, the Progressive base was squabbling.
While I believe Occupy Wall Street’s focus on wealth and income disparity and many other issues would be the savior of the re-election of President Obama, its unstructured design has proven to be its own enemy at times. It allowed many on the Right to make it much less effective than it could be. Much of that energy should have come much earlier to match the immoral obstruction that was occurring visibly on TV. In other words we seeded our American anger to those who effectively would make things worse for most Americans.
We should heed Professor Reich’s words below. It is a recipe for real progress.
If You Succumb to Cynicism, The Regressives Win it All
This is for those of you who consider yourself to be progressive but have given up on politics because it seems rotten to the core. You may prefer Obama to Romney but don’t think there’s a huge difference between the two, so you may not even vote.
Your cynicism is understandable. But cynicism is a self-fulfilling prophesy. If you succumb to it, the regressives who want to take this nation back to the 19th century win it all.
The Koch brothers, Karl Rove, the rabid Republican right, CEOs and Wall Street titans who want to entrench their privileges and tax advantages – all of them would like nothing better than for every progressive in America to throw in the towel.
Then America is entirely theirs.
The alternative to cynicism is to become more involved in politics. Help create a progressive force in this nation that grows into a movement that can’t be stopped.
We almost had it last year in the Occupy movement. We had the arguments and the energy. What we lacked was organization and discipline.
I’ve spent years in Washington and I know nothing good happens there unless good people outside Washington are organized and mobilized to put pressure on Washington to make it happen.
This isn’t new. In the election of 1936, a constituent approached FDR with a list of things she wanted him to do if reelected. “Ma’am,” he said, “I’d like to do all those things. But if I’m reelected, you must make me.”
We must make them.
I suggest a two-step plan.
Step one: Vote for Barack Obama for President and vote for every Democratic senator and representative in Congress. Get off your ass and make sure your friends and relatives do the same.
Step two: Starting Election Day, regardless of who’s elected, commit at least three hours every week to political organizing and mobilizing. Connect with other progressives in your city and state. Help find and recruit new progressive candidates to run against Republicans in swing states, and against conservative Democrats. Support the members of the progressive caucus in Congress. Raise money. Raise a ruckus.
Make it our goal to reverse Citizens United, even if it takes a constitutional amendment. And have public financing of elections (including requiring the media to provide free political advertising as part of their commitment to public service).
Also break up the biggest banks and resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act.
Put a 2 percent surtax on wealth in excess of $3 million. And a one-tenth of 1 percent transaction tax on every financial transaction. And restore top tax rates to what they were before Ronald Reagan became president.
Use half this revenue to pay down the national debt and half to make sure every American has a world-class education.
Put a tax on carbon, and use the revenues to reduce or replace payroll taxes.
Have a single-payer health-care system that delivers care at far less cost than our current balkonized and inefficient one.
And much else.
You say it can’t happen — the system is too rotten.
It won’t happen if you wallow in the comfort of your cynicism. But it will happen if you and others like you get fired up.
We’ve done it before.
I remember when progressives joined with African-Americans to get enacted the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. I remember when progressives stopped the Vietnam War. When women finally got freedom of choice over their own bodies. When the Environmental Protection Act became law.
Who would have imagined two decades ago that America would elect an African-American as President of the United States? Who would have supposed gays and lesbians would begin to achieve equal marriage rights?
Of course we can take America back.
Stop complaining and start organizing.
And by all means, vote.