Amidst the ecstasy of the Obama Inauguration, there lurks great danger.
Merely with his swearing in, our nation has broken an epic racial barrier. We are losing our worst president and getting one who was actually elected.
But the promise of change is not change itself. Inaugurating a brilliant young leader who speaks in complete sentences can only be good. But it is a fatal delusion to think this means we have gotten where we need to go.
Here are ten early tangibles that will be accomplished ONLY if we push:
1) Revise the Corporation: Corporations have hijacked the electoral process, the legal system, the 14th Amendment, the environment. They have human rights but no human responsibilities. They must be re-chartered and made to serve the public, rather than the other way around.
2) Restore the Bill of Rights: The first ten amendments to the US Constitution comprise a great guide for guaranteeing our basic human rights and liberties. The Constitutional lawyer entering the White House understands the issues; he need to be pushed to make sure these rights are enforced, including equal justice for racial/ethnic minorities and women, and reproductive freedom.
3) US out of Iraq and Afghanistan: These wars must end. The healing—moral, spiritual, economic, and in terms of violence—can only begin when the US leaves these useless battlefields and dismantles its global network of intrusive bases.
4) Slash Military Spending: We cannot continue to spend untold billions on detrimental weaponry. A 75% cut would be a good start; 95% would be a reasonable ultimate target.
5) Rid the World of Nuclear Weapons: Atomic bombs are instruments of mass suicide and of no tangible use. Even their production and maintenance is unsustainable.
6) TOTAL conversion to renewables and efficiency: We have the technology to run this Earth COMPLETELY on Solartopian green energy, with no fossil/nuclear fuels whatsoever. This means restoration of mass transit, and NO public funding, from taxpayers or ratepayers, for new atomic reactors or coal burners.
7) End Hemp/Marijuana Prohibition: This ancient plant holds the key to bio-fuels, as well as to sustainable paper production and much more, and must be restored to full production. And prohibition of a medicinal substance used by tens of millions of citizens makes for a police state. Pot must be legal; control of other substances must shift to treatment. The prison-industrial complex is as unsustainable as is the military.
8) National Health Care: Appropriate prevention and treatment is a basic human right. We must find the way to provide it.
9) Universal Hand-Counted Paper Ballots: Electronic voting machines are the nukes of the electoral process. Universal automatic registration, handcounted paper ballots (on recycled hemp paper) and workable campaign finance regulations are essential to the future of democracy.
10) Universal Free Education: In an information age, education through a college degree is essential to a sustainable society. Our public schools from K to the BA must be funded on a level now wasted on the military.
There is of course much more. But the greatness of this moment will be measured in history only by the extent to which we actually win on tangible issues.
This brief wish list should get us going. Send us more! But above all: remember that even with Barack Obama in the White House (and George Bush OUT of it) none of them will come without our hard—hopefully joyful—work.
HARVEY WASSERMAN, a co-founder of Musicians United for Safe Energy, is editing the nukefree.org web site. He is the author of SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth, A.D. 2030, is at www.solartopia.org. He can be reached at: Windhw@aol.com