The Political Capital is Gone, Now What About Political Will?


It’s not surprising that people are fed up with politics.

When money determines who gets elected, when campaign promises are as easily tossed out as garbage and when most elected officials knowingly support policy that puts the special interests ahead of the people’s interests, why bother with a rigged game?

The Senate is firmly under the control of a Republican minority of 41, the House is stalled and thinking about re-election, the Supreme Court has decided that political office should be for sale to the special interest that is willing to spend the most on behalf of their chosen candidate and the President continues to “play nice” instead of pushing a progressive agenda.

Just a year ago there was a great sense of hope, not seen since the end of WWII.

A president whose idea of peace might not mean more “boots on the ground”.

A President who supported health care for all.

A President who believed in fair trade, not free trade.

A President who felt banks should help people better their lives, not gamble away their money.

Boy did we take the bait, the drift to the right continues with President Obama still thinking he can work with a Republican party whose game plan is blocking legislation.

Just as people used to hide those they were ashamed of away from public view, the Republicans have successfully hidden George Bush and the failures of his administration away.

The ills of the nation are now Obama’s problem, Obama’s fault and still he panders to those who vilify him; to those who want less oversight, more war, more for the rich and less for everyone else.

The militarism, the Wall Street free for all, the bankruptcies, the mortgage foreclosures, the top down bail out at the expense of the bottom; all the legacies of the Bush Administration are dumped on Obama and for solutions he turns to those who created the problems and offer more of the same as a solution.

In his State of the Union Address the President stated that “jobs must be our number one focus in 2010”, yet he intends to push for more free trade agreements, policies Presidents Clinton and Bush championed, policies that shipped jobs overseas and crushed the workers, the farmers, the labor unions and the families of America. Policies that have caused pain, policies that Obama seems reluctant to stop.

He barely mentioned Afghanistan and the nearly one hundred thousand American troops there, what could he say? It’s good? It’s working? How about the truth, that it’s bad policy with no end in sight.

The President said he was open to better ideas on how to remake the nation’s health care system, but he offered no ideas of his own, nothing he was willing to push forward.

What might the late Howard Zinn have said about President Obama’s speech? I doubt he would have criticized the President as a failure, but I do think he would have criticized him because he was afraid to try, because he was afraid to formulate his own policy and to push it relentlessly.

JIM GOODMAN is a dairy farmer from Wonewoc WI and a 2008-2009 IATP Food and Society Policy Fellow.


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