Saturday, July 16, 2011

Rebuild The Dream That People's Voices Matter

While Congress and the President play chicken with the nation's solvency, house parties in thousands of communities around the country will convene this weekend to consider what is to become of our hopes for economic recovery. In an attempt to generate a consensus on our collective future, the grassroots group that helped catapult Obama from the Senate to the White House is meeting again in towns like yours under the rubric “Rebuild the American Dream.”

Cynics will recall that, in the run-up to the 2008 election, MoveOn gathered small contributions that amounted to a sweeping mandate for change – one that few of us continue to believe in. Widespread disgust with the warmongering of the Bush Jr. administration pushed people in the U.S. to demand an end to occupation of Iraq. Alarm at the shredding of funding for public education, health care, alternative energy, environmental protection and the like sent us to the ballet box in droves. There, many held their noses and voted for a platform that promised social spending, an end to at least one war, and the return  of said Dream i.e. the expectation that future generations might be able to work their way to home ownership, health care, and a decent retirement.

Now while debate swirls around the debt ceiling and whether or not the super wealthy ought to be able to buy clever accountants and lawyers to avoid paying taxes, we, the people, are again invited to gather.
That's why CODEPINK is calling on members to “bring the PINK” by their vocal presence demanding recognition for the imperative to bring war dollars home if there is to be any hope of economic progress. Using crowd sourcing, MoveOn generated a short list of what it might take to rebuild a durable promise of prosperity for most. Job creation topped the list, while redirecting military spending to social needs stood at #4.

Building things rather than destroying them is an obvious corrective in lean times. A typical smart (sic) bomb of the type that the Obama administration has dropped on thousands of civilians costs about the same as employing 25 school teachers for a year. Even as a jobs program, building weapons of mass destruction is an epic fail; light rail or energy efficient housing construction would generate employment for twice as many people.

None of this is mentioned by the change agent MoveOn put in office. In fact, in his Twitter town hall recently the President insisted that cutting the military budget was just not an option. In a nod to his campaign contributors the POTUS wrote:
I announced that we were going to begin drawing down troops in Afghanistan and pivot to a transition process where Afghans are taking more responsibility for their defense. 
But we have to do all of this in a fairly gradual way.  We can’t simply lop off 25 percent off the defense budget overnight. We have to think about all the obligations we have to our current troops who are in the field, and making sure they’re properly equipped and safe.  We’ve got to make sure that we are meeting our commitments for those veterans who are coming home.  We’ve got to make sure that -- in some cases, we’ve got outdated equipment that needs to be replaced.
Just prior to Obama's tepid announcement of a gradual drawdown (of the troops he had already surged in) a White House spokesman asked what role the souring of public opinion on the war in Afghanistan would play replied that "it really doesn't play a role."

This was astonishingly honest, if spectacularly ill-informed.

With Noam Chomsky reporting that "80% of the population of the United States believes that the government is 'run by a few big interests looking out for themselves,' not 'for the benefit of all the people,'" can regime change be far behind? Obama will, of course, continue to pretend like his forefathers that we can safely be ignored.
When ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz cited polling data showing majority opposition to the Iraq war, Cheney responded, "So?" Asked, "So--you don't care what the American people think?" he responded, "No," and explained, "I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls."
But pretending will not erase shocking disparities in net worth that cannot be ignored by most of us. In a recent analysis of women's economic status is a much needed reminder that, for many, the Dream never arrived in the first place. In a metric that reflects home ownership still out of reach for many in the U.S., sociologist Mariko Chang found:
“...while white women in the prime working years of ages 36-49 have a median wealth of $42,600 (still only 61% of their white male counterparts), the median wealth for women of color is only $5.”
So get to a Dream house party and say your piece, for what it's worth. Then get into the streets and stay there until our voices cannot be ignored.

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