The Power of Hope, The Promise of Greatness

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The Age of Obama: The Power of Hope, The Promise of Greatness
by Jack Random
The inauguration of Barack Obama as America’s 44th president was a moving and powerful symbol of change.  Every citizen and ally who allowed himself and herself to appreciate the moment felt a surge of pride that will not easily abate.  

We have elected a leader who’s every word, step and breath seems to hold the promise of greatness.  Amidst everything that is wrong with our nation and our world – our homes foreclosing, our jobs lost, our banks defaulting, our debt mounting, our wages falling, our health care declining, our air and water filled with toxic poisons, our government dysfunctional and two wars still spilling daily blood – we have yet this moment and this man upon whom we place our hope and trust.  

If he did not seek the position it would be an act of supreme injustice.  

Despite a sobering if not grim message, the amount of faith invested in this man and this moment in history rivals any zealot’s devotion to an imam, pope, guru or prophet.  

The power of hope and faith and the unity it inspires is about to face the most demanding test history can devise.  If Obama fails to diagnose in good speed the nature of the problems we face and act swiftly to deliver an appropriate and effective treatment, we will be plunged into an abyss of spiraling descent, a perpetual decline from which none can escape unharmed.  If the president only rises to a level of competence never breeched by his predecessor, the results and his presidency will be disastrous, leaving witless historians free to assign blame for an era of darkness and sacrifice amidst Clinton, Bush and Obama.  

If the president is to avoid that ignoble end he must perceive with absolute clarity the chain of events and corresponding policies that led inevitably to our current state of rapid and persistent decline.  

It is well and good that our first president of African descent should appeal for unity and I fundamentally agree that ideology is a false god when rendered imperious by devoted practitioners but it falls to Obama to recognize that the fault line of a looming economic collapse runs directly through the heart of the conservative, Adam Smith, Federalist Society, American Enterprise Institute free market fundamentalist creed:  Corporate deregulation, trickle down tax policies, global free trade and the programmed marginalization of organized labor.  

If Obama neglects any one of these areas, if he attempts to make do with regulation and tax reform with only token revisions of trade or labor policies, on the grounds that doing more would abandon a bipartisan mandate, the long-term prospects of his economic program will slowly fade.  

Of all the post-Obama phenomena one of the most laughable (if it were not so serious) is the old school conservative proclamation that all former assumptions of economic theory no longer apply.  They would have us believe that the world has been turned on its head and all the old economic models have broken down in the current crisis when in fact the only model that has failed is theirs.  

The free market fundamentalists got everything they wanted in a steady and decisive progression for fourteen years and the result is an absolute and unequivocal failure.  There is no analysis on earth or in the heavens of imagination that can transform this turkey into a soaring eagle.  

What we learned from the collapse of the Soviet empire was relatively nuanced:  that the combination of a corrupt and authoritarian government with a state-run economy could not survive and prosper without a healthy injection of free enterprise.  

What we are learning in the present crisis is something we should have already known from own historical experience – the repeated stock market collapses and the Great Depression:  that unbridled capitalism combined with a corporate-dominated government is equally doomed to calamitous failure.  

President Obama must strike a balance.  While he should reject the idolatry of ideology he must first reverse the ideological mandates of the last 14 years.  It falls to him to reassert the role of government in vigorous and competent regulation of corporate and financial enterprise.  He must support labor in striking down “right to work” laws and establishing Employee Free Choice as the law of the land.  He must break the Free Trade Mandate and replace it with Fair Trade.  He must keep his promises to provide health care to all Americans and to reform tax policy in favor of the working class.  

Just as we have followed the wrong path domestically, we have followed the Neocan path of aggressive militarism in foreign policy to a definitive conclusion:  Our policies from the war in Iraq to the occupation of Afghanistan, from defiance of diplomacy to the use of Israel as a surrogate aggressor, have made the world a more dangerous place while squandering blood and treasure to no end.  

As Obama sheds the dead weight of foreign wars and extravagant military expenditures (necessarily breaking from his campaign pledge), he must invest in jobs, the kind of jobs that will pave the way to a green economy free of dependency on dirty and foreign energy.  

We have invested a great deal of faith in our new president and he has earned our patience and respect but the one thing he has promised that he absolutely must deliver is change.  

The president need not worry for now.  He has unprecedented support.  The people are behind him.  We are prepared for the hard times that have already begun to surround us.  We can handle hard times.  We will do our best.  We will continue to support and follow his leadership for as long we believe he is leading us out of the darkness.  



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