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Tuesday, January 26, 2010


My letter to The Nation

Forgive the partial repetition of the post just below this one, but this is a letter just sent to The Nation, in response to this article by Gary Younge and this one by Katrina vanden Huevel and Robert Borosage:
Gary Younge is correct that many of those who placed too much faith in Barack Obama subscribe to the "great man" theory of history, but the idea that those of us who placed no faith in him share that belief is nonsense. It is precisely those of us who refused to drink the Kool-Aid who all along identified the entirety (with a mere handful of exceptions) of the Democratic Party (and, needless to say, the Republicans as well) as the obstacle to progress, and would not for a moment consider placing the blame for where we have come in the past year on Obama alone.

In the very next article in The Nation we find out who did drink the Kool-Aid, as Katrina vanden Huevel and Robert Borosage describe Obama as "the most liberal president in memory." Evidently their memory doesn't even extend as far back as Richard Nixon, who by practically any measure was more liberal than Obama. They admit "he has never been a movement progressive," as if he were in fact any kind of progressive, and hope for their "great man" to "counter [the right's] market fundamentalism." Apparently they have forgotten Obama's interview with the Reno Journal-Gazette during the 2008 campaign, which suggests precisely the opposite:

"I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. They felt like with all the excesses of the 60s and the 70s and government had grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think he tapped into what people were already feeling. Which is we want clarity, we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing."
vanden Huevel and Borosage do identify the necessary remedy - "progressive protest organizing." But if they really support that alternative, they (and The Nation) need to inform their readers about the one massive effort already in progress - the March 20 March on Washington (www.march20.org) whose main target is the wars which are draining the U.S. Treasury, and which are the biggest obstacle to progress in every area, be it healthcare, education, jobs, housing, mass transit, combating climate change, or anything else. As long as the United States continues to spend more than a trillion dollars every year on war, progressive change in the U.S. will remain a fantasy.

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