The War of the Worlds

 
 
Everyone is so critical of Obama, but I find the things he
says very reasonable and I just don’t understand the animosity he arouses
(unless it is racist). He gave a speech today about America’s path to a solid
economic future which contained nothing in the least objectionable. He believes
that America will lose the character and philosophical underpinnings that make
America a unique nation if we allow all of the wealth of the nation to become
concentrated in the hands of a few Americans while the economic health of the
middle class continues to decline. He spoke about how we are a nation that
relies on consumerism to thrive and that in order to preserve our place among
the nations of the world and continue to be competitive we must have a
prosperous middle class. He tried to take the long view and think about what we
need to do to keep America at the top of the global economy. He reminds us that
the middle class is not necessarily feeling the recent recovery that is
happening in other areas of the economy. And he believes that if we don’t do
what we need to do to boost the middle class we will end up a backwater nation
in the global culture that is coming.

Obama did not tick off any agenda items for America that
are in any way bizarre or unusual. If the Republicans were not so determined to
hate him they would have to admit that these are the areas that need
improvement to guarantee the health of the middle class and of America. It is
possible that we could find some ways to make our nation’s success less dependent
on consumerism and that this might change the urgency to develop some of these
areas but Obama did not suggest any changes in our national values that would
turn us into a less consumer-oriented culture. He seems to believe that the
consumerism of the middle class is exactly what is needed to keep America
ticking along.

He recommended concentrating on education and training (once
again mentioning the importance of preschool). He recommended spending on
infrastructure. He listed the necessity of continuing to look for alternative
energy sources, and the need for businesses to offer higher wages and benefits,
especially given recent attacks on labor unions. Not once did Obama mention an
urgent need to cut the debt and the deficit or the need to do away with the
social safety net or to make government really, really small. He did mention
that if we worked together we could find ways to cut programs that are not
working and to streamline the social safety net programs so that we would not
have to plan to ignore the poor and the disabled. He feels that we will come to
value the Affordable Care Act because it ends the absolute control the
insurance companies had over health care that allowed them to refuse to cover
people with preexisting conditions, and because it offers insurance for young
people who often can’t afford it, and it covers people who have been too poor
to have insurance.  He reminded us that
we have never been an “it’s all about me” nation, but have always believed that
we have a duty to lift up those who are less fortunate than us. He did not
believe that we would ever want to become that totally “me” focused nation. I
just don’t understand how anyone can object to this agenda.

What I hear news commentators saying is that Obama cannot
deliver any of these things he is talking about but Obama admitted that he is
not running for any other office, and that he is taking a long view. At the end
of those 1276 days he will be 44 and he should be set for life. He will still
be an American though and as an America he will not want to watch America be
satisfied with a place at the edge of the global market place. He is not sure
what will be accomplished over the next 1276 days, but he believes that this
makes a great long term agenda for America and he hopes that future governments
will build on these areas and that the people will help offer creative
approaches that allow us to do this.

How will we fight our way out from under the strident
insistence of the Right that we need to have all private schools funded by vouchers,
we need vouchers for health care, and we need to cut all other social programs,
although they do express some distaste at cutting loose old folks (perhaps
thinking of their grandparents, you know). They do seem to think that old
people are retiring too soon and that they need to work longer, that they are
relying on the government to take care of them in their years and are therefore
not saving and planning ahead. They really want to cut loose the poor and those
who they feel are freeloaders and let them make a greater effort to make
something of themselves. They believe that the churches will pitch in and take
care of the poor and the disabled and the addicted and the aged as they did
(very ineffectively) before we had a social safety net. Many of our churches
are limping along as it is and are probably aghast at the prospect of being
called on to provide the millions of services we are talking about. It is not
realistic.

I do not see the American people gathering together to help
restore health to the middle class or to talk about whether they really think
voting to repeal health care 38 times and overturning Roe v. Wade and not
paying America’s debts and getting rid of labor unions (especially for
teachers) and closing the IRS but still collecting taxes are things that will
improve the health of America. Even if some people want to repeal health care,
end abortions and refuse to pay debts, I assume they are not the highest
priority items on their list, and yet they are priorities for Conservatives.
Perhaps wealthy Americans plan to take their money out of America and no longer
pay any taxes to the nation and they are just preparing us for the inevitable.
Can we afford the social safety net without them? We certainly can’t right now
given the economic loses the middle class has suffered.  Someone needs to draw a word picture of what
America will be like if we follow the agenda of those on the Right. I don’t
think that country will in any way resemble the America we know and love.

After watching Rachel Maddow last night I guess we will get
a preview, a peek of this Conservative nirvana if we keep an eye on North
Carolina, a state with a Republican majority in all branches of its government,
a state which is passing some unusual laws such as, all seventh graders will
have to be taught that if they have an abortion they will not be able to have
any more babies, and all millionaires will receive a $10,000 check. Now just take a moment to
roll your eyes and say “what?”