By RA Monaco
After last night’s State of the Union festivities, I needed a good night’s sleep to step back from the warm and fuzzy feelings I get when I hear our Commander in Chief speak to the nation.
It is an undeniable fact, that President Obama is a talented individual—a statesman. In fact, he is so talented, he can say all the things I know will mean nothing, with his hand in my pocket and fingers on what little cash I have and I still want to like him—I still to want believe.
I still want to believe that as a once constitutional law professor, the president values the civil liberties which are the tenets of our founding as a nation. That he hasn’t given-in to the security lobbyists and egregiously disregarded our civil liberties just to funnel tax dollars in exchange for campaign cash from private firms who now capture every keystroke of our existence.
I still want to believe he hasn’t ignored the tenets of international law and Due Process to kill Americans and unwitting civilians with drones in some far off land. That he doesn’t allow drones to be used for surveillance here in the States, I still want believe that too.
I still want to believe that he didn’t seriously intend a military option in Syria or that he’s not being played by Iran lifting sanctions and pursuing diplomacy just to piss Putin off.
I want to believe that the accountability of Banksters who now are bigger, more profitable and no more stringently regulated than before we bailed them out, wasn’t a broken promise for campaign cash.
I still want to believe that the Affordable Care Act wasn’t another capitulation for campaign cash from the insurance industry or another broken campaign promise that tossed out the single payer option on healthcare for all.
I still want believe that Guantanamo will be closed and our own troops will never be used on domestic soil to suppress public dissent. That he doesn’t have his fingers in the prosecution of the #NATO 3 to justify the expense and unwarranted militarized police presence in Chicago during the 2012 NATO Summit just to chill public dissent.
Yes, I want to believe that immigration reform will be practical, companionate and humane.
I want to believe that Obama understands that the secrecy--even from our own legislature--surrounding the Trans Pacific Partnership and the idea of “fast tracking” legislation undermines our confidence in all his ideas. That he realizes a free market doesn’t mean “free” and that the cost of access to the American marketplace demands social and environmental responsibility.
Mostly, I want to believe that American prosperity and the words “liberty” and “freedom” are not just empty words of deception—a language device. Yes, the President’s extending an olive branch across the aisles and the challenge to “go it alone” left me warm and fuzzy. Because I realize that the Republican Party has been infected with obstructionists and selfish partisanship.
I also realize that Republican’s have had five years to clean up their own backyard, yet they continue to obstruct every bill that in any way has the support and endorsement of this president.
Also, I realize that Republican’s have used more—Green Eggs and Ham—filibusters in the last five years than in the combined history of the Senate to undermine this president’s agenda with irresponsible disregard for the economy and well being of an already suffering nation.
I realize that Republican’s shut down the government and have repeatedly created economic crises at the expense of the entire nation. That they’ve continue to bootstrap every bit of government business to destroy the Affordable Care Act without ever having attempted to improve the law or make it better.
So, who is abusing what I ask?
To guide the American people there is a powerful philosophical statement within our Declaration of Independence:
“…Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from consent of the governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new Government.”
I checked and it says nothing about corporations. So, we must think deeply about those words now because as a nation we’re going nowhere fast.
We are living within a narrow, highly vetted framework of information, options, choices and solutions. Far too often, legacy media is failing in their intended constitutional purposes and more interested in entertainment, mouse-clicks and profit than real journalism and public accountability.
We are on the heels of a presidential election when 46 million people are living below the poverty line and yet not a word from either candidate—where was the press?
Today, independent journalism is the equivalent of Tom Paine’s Common Sense the most popular pamphlet in the American colonies. In 1776, it made the bold argument for independence with words people understood: “Society in every state is a blessing, but Government even its best state is but a necessary evil…”
So, criticisms are of no real practical value unless accompanied by a proposed solution or some guidance, here’s mine. America is in desperate need of election and campaign finance reforms that can restore a representative government that allows “people” to engage in self governance. Publically funded elections are the first step toward eliminating the influence of campaign cash. The details in this idea need to come from you and the grassroots organizations that can put wheels to the changes we need.
We can no longer look to our political class for this change, they’d never put themselves out of a job and they’ve never made concessions to the middle class or the poor that damaged their own wealth or power—Political Science 101.
So, maybe it’s time we take a page from the Grover Norquist’s “no new tax” playbook. Let’s tell every politician—regardless of political affiliation—that in exchange for our vote they must sign the pledge that upon being elected to office their first order of business must be publicly funded elections and campaign finance reforms.
Let’s make sure that each and every politician seeking office—State or Federal—knows that if they don’t make the pledge and follow through that “we the people” will finance and support the candidate who makes the pledge.
Today, members of congress spend 70% of their day raising campaign cash to get reelected—would your boss allow you to work at another job while he pays you? If not, why then should we?
Americans, we are not helpless. We need to accept that the partisan distraction is just that, a distraction. We have to stop wanting to believe in empty words—even if we want—and fix the problem.