FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Needed: Three Obama Speeches for the People

by RALPH NADER

Dear President Obama:

All the daily decisions and crises you have to confront must not preclude occasional addresses to the country that rise to the level of statesmanship, transcending the hurly-burly of politics and executive branch administration.

There are three areas where the people need the views and vision of their President.

1. A major address on the resources and preconditions necessary for the government to wage peace as a continual policy of statecraft and not just sporadic initiatives between waging war or engaging in other violent conflicts. Consider the enormous disparity of time, power and money allocated to preparing for or waging military assaults with what is devoted to prevention of conflict and other fundamentals of securing the conditions for peace. The tiny U.S. budgets for nuclear, chemical and biological arms control with the Soviet Union and other nations over the years have certainly produced positive returns of incalculable magnitude and importance.

We have military academies but no peace academies. Vast sums are allocated for research and teaching about war and military tactics, but very little for peace studies at our schools and universities. You may wish to meet with former Washington Post columnist, Colman McCarthy, who teaches peace in the Washington D.C. area schools and has written pioneering books and articles that include his compelling arguments for having peace studies adopted in high schools and colleges around the country (see http://www.salsa.net/peace/conv/ for more information).

2. Earlier in 2009 and again in 2011 I wrote to urge you to address a large gathering, in a convenient Washington venue, for the leaders of nonprofit civic organizations with tens of millions of members throughout the United States. Not receiving a reply, I sent my request to the First Lady, Michelle Obama, whose assistant replied saying you were too busy.

You were, however, not too busy to address many business groups and also to walk over to the oppositional U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Well, it is the second term and such a civic gathering could be scheduled at your convenience. You could use this occasion to make a major speech on the importance and means of advancing the quality and quantity of civic groups and their chapters which, taken together, are major employers. Your advisers could even justify the effort as stimulating a jobs program by urging larger charitable contributions from the trillions of dollars of inert money in the hands of the upper economic classes.

3. Strengthening democratic processes and expanding democratic institutions and participation by the people are cardinal functions of the presidency. Indeed, Harvard Law Professor, Richard Parker in his little, seminal book: Here the People Rule (Harvard University Press, 1998) argues that the constitution authorizes the President “to facilitate the political and civic energies of the people.”

A major address on this topic should be right up your experiential alley from both your early experience in Chicago of observing and confronting the power structures’ many forms of exclusion and mistreatment of the populace and your more recent accommodation to that power structure and its influence over Congress.

As has been said, democracy is not a spectator sport. It requires a motivated citizenry, along with rights, remedies, and mechanisms that facilitate people banding together as candidates, voters, workers, taxpayers, consumers and communities. Concentration of power and wealth in the hands of the few who decide for the many is the great destroyer of any society’s democratic functions. It was Justice Louis Brandeis who, memorably, stated that, “We can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” And another well-regarded jurist, Judge Learned Hand declared, “If we are to keep our democracy, there must be one commandment: thou shalt not ration justice.”

As “politics” is seen by more people as a dirty word and as the people move from cynicism about political institutions to greater withdrawal from them, including public meetings, primaries, elections and referenda, they need a president who addresses these disabling symptoms of a weakening democratic society from the local to the state to the national levels of our political economy.

Such an address will have positive reverberations beyond the general public. Depending on your scope, recommendations and announcements, it will reach the youth of our country, our high schools, universities, workplaces and professional schools. Why it may even affect the moribund, technical routines of the Harvard Law Review (where you were president in 1990) as well as other law schools, bar associations and lawyers who aspire to higher estimates of their own professional significance (see my remarks “The Majesty of the Law Needs Magisterial Lawyers” before the Connecticut Bar Association June 17, 2013 http://nader.org/2013/06/18/the-majesty-of-the-law-needs-magisterial-lawyers/). If law means justice, as it should, then the rule of law needs presidential refurbishing to strengthen the fiber of our democracy.

I hope you will see the merit of these three suggestions. A copy of this letter is being sent to the First Lady, Michelle Obama, whose staff may be responsive in a different manner.

I look forward to your reaction.

Sincerely yours,

Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

December 08, 2016
John W. Whitehead
Power to the People: John Lennon’s Legacy Lives On
Mike Whitney
Rolling Back the Empire: Washington’s Proxy-Army Faces Decisive Defeat in Aleppo
Ellen Brown
“We’ll Look at Everything:” More Thoughts on Trump’s $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan
John Stauber
The Rise and Fall of Obamacare: Will the Inside Story Ever be Told?
Ted Rall
Ameri-Splaining
Michael J. Sainato
Mainstream Media Continues Absolving Itself From Clinton, Trump Election Failures
Ralph Nader – Mark Green
Divest or Face Impeachment: an Open Letter to Donald Trump
Gareth Porter
US Airstrikes on Syrian Troops: Report Data Undermine Claim of “Mistake”
Martha Burke
What Trumponomics Means for Women
Ramzy Baroud
Fatah, Hold Your Applause: Palestinian Body Politic Rotten to the Core
Steve Horn
Jeff Sessions, Trump’s Attorney General Pick, Introduced First Bill Exempting Fracking from Drinking Water Rules
Joe Ware
The Big Shift: Why Banks Need to Stop Investing Our Money Into Fossil Fuels
Juliana Barnet
On the Ground at Standing Rock
Franklin Lamb
Aleppo Update: An Inspiring Return to the Bombed Out National Museum
Steve Kelly
Hidden Harmony: on the Perfection of Forests
December 07, 2016
Michael Schwalbe
What We Talk About When We Talk About Class
Karl Grossman
The Next Frontier: Trump and Space Weapons
Kenneth Surin
On Being Caught Speeding in Rural America
Chris Floyd
In Like Flynn: Blowback for Filth-Peddling Fascists
Serge Halimi
Trump, the Know-Nothing Victor
Paul DeRienzo
Flynn Flam: Neocon Ex-General to Be Trump’s National Security Advisor
Binoy Kampmark
Troubled Waters: Trump, Taiwan and Beijing
Tom Clifford
Trump and China: a Note From Beijing
Arnold August
Fidel’s Legacy to the World on Theory and Practice
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix a ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
John Kirk
Cuba After Fidel
Jess Guh
Repeal of Affordable Care Act is Politics Playing with the Wellbeing of Americans
Eric Sommer
Team Trump: a Government of Generals and Billionaires
Lawrence Davidson
U.S. Reactions to the Death of Fidel Castro
John Garvey - Noel Ignatiev
Abolitionism: a Study Guide
Clancy Sigal
Caution: Conspiracy Theory Ahead!
December 06, 2016
Anthony DiMaggio
Post-Fact Politics: Reviewing the History of Fake News and Propaganda
Richard Moser
Standing Rock: Challenge to the Establishment, School for the Social Movements
Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi
Warmongering 99 – Common Sense 0: the Senate’s Unanimous Renewal of Iran Sanctions Act
Norman Solomon
Media Complicity is Key to Blacklisting Websites
Michael J. Sainato
Elizabeth Warren’s Shameful Exploitation of Standing Rock Victory
David Rosen
State Power and Terror: From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock
Kim Ives
Deconstructing Another Right-Wing Victory in Haiti
Nile Bowie
South Korea’s Presidency On A Knife-Edge
Mateo Pimentel
Some Notes and a Song for Standing Rock
CJ Hopkins
Manufacturing Normality
Bill Fletcher Jr – Bob Wing
Fighting Back Against the White Revolt of 2016
Peter Lee
Is America Ready for a War on White Privilege?
Pepe Escobar
The Rules of the (Trump) Game
W. T. Whitney
No Peace Yet in Colombia Despite War’s End
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail