I have to admit, I continue to be surprised that the President’s seminal message since the Summer of 2011 was essentially crafted by a bunch of underemployed and over indebted 20 year olds who had the time and, credit where it’s due, will to get out in the streets and sleep in various parks for months on end. To be clear, this is not a good thing.
In 2008, I and millions of other self described Progressives cast our votes for Barack Obama knowing that, despite the glut of “get disappointed by someone new” memes on the internet, this time would indeed be different. We were in a crisis and that would necessitate a new kind of leadership and cooperation. The Right, we prayed would ravenously seek a new path away from the war years of the Bush presidency and the Left would be there to horse trade with them until our country started looking more like a thoroughbred again rather than the old gray mare that had gaspingly towed us across the January 1st finish line that year. It was going to be different because the alternative was just unthinkable to say nothing of being just incredibly stupid. And when the Democratic super majority passed the Affordable Care Act which gave private enterprise a guaranteed customer base in the largest sector of the American economy we all thought…well, ok, maybe, uh. Then we justified it. We told ourselves that single payer was just unreasonable, that the narrative of history was very often slow and that this was merely a step in the right direction. We told ourselves he did all he could do.
And when the economy didn’t come back in the first four years at all we blamed Republican intransigence (still a favorite of mine, really) and short-sightedness. We blamed the extremist Tea Party and their ignorance of American democracy, their ignorance of economics and the rising tide theory of economic comebacks. I still do, for the most part. But there’s another guy I blame just as much and he’s out and about giving speeches on the economy right now and he’s making you dumber. Stop me if you’ve heard this one:
You may not have even known that this “big economic policy push” was happening so don’t bother watching them all. It’s the same speech every time and it’s the same speech I’ve heard since 2008. I’ve yet to see a concerted effort to make much of it actually happen and by effort I mean legislation and air time that expresses passion, not whiney pandering. So, why haven’t we seen anything like this? Well, I’ll tell you. Barack Obama is a centrist, he’s basically a union friendly (as long as the union is weak) Ronald Reagan. He’s the furthest right of any Democratic President in recent memory. There, I said it. He’s the most Right wing Democratic President in the history of the 20th century. He sincerely thinks that young people spending 10s of thousands of dollars on college degrees so that they can be unemployed graduates is the future of American business. He hasn’t seen the writing on the wall. Skilled labor certifications are the future in this country, not college degrees, but he’s missed it. He thinks that the economy is still able to grow at all through trickle down economics. He thinks that college graduates can still produce monetary value in the US.
My argument is that they can’t. We’re tapped out. There’s nothing else to get out of us. Our country’s economy is so ill that all of our growth is going to have to come at the bottom. There’s nowhere to go at the top. Consider this pyramid which I really hope you’ve seen at some point.
That’s how it works. You can mix and match. The “we eat for yous” could be any number of businesses that cater to the bottom. Some of the guys on the bottom could be wearing McDonald’s hats. But, regardless, the point remains. You have to have a vibrant working class if you want a Middle Class that can grow. The President says he wants this but he’s done almost nothing to achieve it. Citing the ACA as proof that he cares will earn you a smack in the mouth. It’s a pittance for a beggar that gives even more money and power to the wealthy…guess who else is too big to fail now…you just wait and see.
For decades we’ve disguised this illness with credit and when the credit evaporated because politicians of both parties love giving money away to corporations then the rot was suddenly visible. Now your college degree is basically a high school degree because employers realized they never needed a college graduate to do that job anyway, they simply needed a sharp 9th grader. See, we’ve all been living off of corporate welfare, the overflow of corporate socialism.
We’ve been at the tit getting paid 40 hours a week to do jobs that often only took 20 to actually do. That’s been possible because slave labor in China and East Asia has enabled record American profits. But now those margins are getting tighter which means that you can’t get a job. I have to wonder if, post NAFTA, every CEO in the country knew this would happen eventually. The great equalizer, free trade, just means that countries get to compete against one another in the great global jobs lottery where we beg multi-nationals to pay some kind of tax and maybe employ someone please in addition to their record profits. Please? Please? Maybe if we went to school more? How about if I work an internship for free? Maybe if I work two jobs? Answer? No.
The President that I voted for in 2009 drove me to do something in 2012 that I never thought I’d do. He made me consider voting for Gary Johnson or Ron Paul. Why? Oh it’s not because I’m a Libertarian because I’m not. It’s because the establishment candidates are all bought and sold middle men with zero courage, vision, or patriotism. Oh sure, they’ll lead the band while we whistle along on the deck of the Titanic but they won’t do anything besides make sure their lifeboat is being prepped. I was perfectly willing to attempt to flip the entire chess board over and at least mix up the rules of the game a little bit but then I got scared. I got scared that somehow Mitt Romney would win and he would come eat my children and in that last day before the election I freaked out and went in and voted against my conscience.
So, not this time, Mr. President. This time I’m not scared of the alternative because the alternative is simply more of you for the most part. This time you have to actually do something. This time I want to see you out there kicking someone’s ass. I want to see you telling the liars that they’re idiots who need to shut up and I want a serious bill attached to this new you. I want it to be realistic, slightly protectionist, and I want it focused on hypothetical trade agreements with Europe and Russia, not China, not Mexico, not Vietnam, Europe and Russia. I want our goods to flood the shores of Russia and one more thing. I want a redesignation of what an “American company” can be because right now it’s a meaningless phrase. Re-draft legislation on those things instead of re-drafting the speech I’ve seen for the last six years now. Every time you give it I cringe and I think “more and more this man has no idea what’s going on” and I think of LBJ and Teddy Roosevelt and Eisenhower and how much like them I thought you were going to be and then I think of Reagan. Above are the speeches from late last month and below is a speech from 2008 that many of us bought like it was brand new. Nice bookends, really.
“If your hopes have been dashed again and again then it’s best to stop hoping and settle for what you already know. I get it.”
No, I don’t think you do. Here’s the speech that I think of when I hear Obama’s these days. Please note that nothing has been done about it.
So, the President needs to do something or be quiet. I have problems of my own. The fact that I can put together better plans than my President (not listed in this article) tells me that he’s just not trying anymore and I have no faith in the man. Why should I? Why should you? We’ve essentially been living under a Republican government for five years now and the President is bragging about those numbers.