Eric Ruder weighs in on SOTU 2015.
“Memories of another second-term Democratic president came flooding back. During Bill Clinton’s presidency, when Democrats controlled Congress during his first term, Clinton didn’t mention raising the minimum wage in his public statements. However, once the Republicans swept into Congress in 1994–riding a wave of discontent with Clinton’s broken promises–Clinton regularly used the issue to put the Republicans on the spot, trapping them between a broadly popular measure and their corporate backers who detested the idea.”
I did not watch the 2015 State of the Union Address, nor the GOP response. I didn’t have the stomach for the theatrics this year. I did, however, read the President’s speech in full last evening, and this morning I took to Facebook, prior to reading any other analysis or reactions, to sketch out my thoughts. What follows is a reposting of those thoughts, polished up a tiny bit.
As usual, President Obama is extremely good at saying the things that many of us are thinking. He says them powerfully and eloquently, turning phrases in a way that stir up strong emotions. He may even believe them himself. This is a good thing to be able to do when one is speaking truth to power, and when one’s rhetoric can rouse people to unite for the purpose of making things better.
The problem with the 2015 State of the Union speech is that he wasn’t speaking truth to power. He is the power, and his actions over the past six years have been entirely contrary to the spirit of these words. From the very start of the speech, he painted an absurdly rosy picture of the “state of the union.” If anyone has paid attention to the conditions that gave birth to the economic crisis, they will know that it is far from over. Some of his statements about our wars and protection of civil liberties were outright lies, and his statements about climate change and protecting the environment were laughable, coming as they did from “the fracking president.”
For those who are inclined to believe that somehow, now unconstrained by the need to run for office again, the “real” Obama is coming out, and that he will be a champion of the people, I would ask you to look back at every speech the man has given, and think about how you felt at the time. Think of how you were inspired – how you were given to hope – and then think about what actually happened after each of the speeches.
Our fundamental problem is that we judge these politicians by what they say, and not by what they do. We judge them based on whether or not they are personally like-able, and by how we perceive their style. We on the Left allow ourselves to be bamboozled and co-opted, time and time again, by pretty words from the Democrats. What we should be doing is building an independent party of the working people that will truly stand for the best interests of the majority of us.
Liberals and other Democrats may make all of the excuses you would like. You may say that Obama’s heart is in the right place, and that it’s those damnable Republicans in congress who have tied his hands, but it just doesn’t wash. The reason Obama has been ineffective is that the people know in their hearts that his words and actions don’t match up. Otherwise there would have been a groundswell of support so large that it could not have been ignored, even by the GOP.
From Doug Mataconis:
“Last night’s State of the Union Address was about what everyone expected it would be. The President set a broad, ambitious agenda that Congress will promptly ignore, Republicans put out another sacrificial lamb to tackle the worst job in America, and, after reading through the speech, it became clear that my instinct to skip the speech altogether was the right idea after all.”
On January 20, 2015 Socialist Alternative member and Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant gave a Socialist’s response to President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union Address.
Do these words from last night’s State of the Union Address ring true to you?
“America, for all that we’ve endured; for all the grit and hard work required to come back; for all the tasks that lie ahead, know this: The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong.”
From Patrick Martin:
“Aside from the delusional character of the speech, perhaps the most distinctive characteristic of Obama’s remarks was the fact that, for the vast majority of the population, it was a non-event. Obama stands at the head of a state apparatus that, increasingly, is talking to itself.”
Read the full article: Delusion and deception in Obama’s State of Union – WSWS.
David Long reports on the eruption of protest in Jefferson County, Colo., in response to a conservative school board’s attempt to censor the U.S. history curriculum.
Read the report: The Jeffco rebels | SocialistWorker.org.
Long time Congressional staffer Mike Lofgren writes about the real rulers of the United States.
Yes, there is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose.
Here’s a happy little tune from The Coup. Sending this one out to the Supreme Court of the United States.
From Socialist Worker:
The Democratic Party is a capitalist party, not a party representing the working class. No matter who votes for it–and, of course, the majority of Democratic voters are workers–the party apparatus itself is set up to reflect, and to some extent, organize the political interests of big business.
The mechanisms by which this takes place are hidden in plain sight: a campaign finance system that channels corporate money to political candidates; a network of think tanks and academic institutions that articulate the positions of Corporate America; a lobbying machine that applies continual pressure to legislators, the executive branch and the unelected government bureaucracy, at the federal, state and local level, to carry out the corporate agenda.
Read the full editorial. Declaring independence from the 1 Percent | SocialistWorker.org.
President Barack Obama has waged illegal wars (Libya), armed Islamic fundamentalists (Syria), provoked civil wars (Ukraine) and asserted the right of the president to order the assassination of any person, including American citizens, without trial or even a hearing. The Obama administration has built up the infrastructure of a police state, greatly expanding the US spying apparatus and seeking to monitor and collect the telecommunications, email and Internet activities of virtually everyone on the planet.
But the Republican-controlled House of Representatives is pushing for an investigation, not of any of these countless crimes against international law, the US Constitution and basic democratic rights, but of … White House talking points on Benghazi.
DSA Vice Chairman Joseph Schwartz reviews the recent MSNBC special commemorating the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, noting that discussion of the thirty year bi-partian assault on working people received little attention.
The biggest change in the face of poverty in the U.S. from the initiation of the War on Poverty to today is that poverty is now a problem of working families; it was not in 1962. Today, one half of families living in official poverty have a full-time worker in the household. In 1962, a fully employed worker guaranteed that the family would live above the poverty line. Why this change? In part, this is due to the conscious corporate assault on union strength.
Professor Chomsky speaks on American politics’ descent into madness.
“To all those prepared to resist the agenda of big business – in Seattle and nationwide – I appeal to you: get organized.”
Read the full speech: Kshama’s Inauguration Speech – Vote Sawant.
Also, here’s Sawant’s Monday appearance on Democracy Now.