Barack Obama continued his tirade against America on Friday before “carbon-footing” across the Pacific to Hawaii for a short vacation. A new poll indicates that about 70% of Americans are getting tired of Obama‘s constant presence in the media. After a year of 24/7 praise from the media coupled with a year of 24/7 condemnation of America by Obama the message is beginning to wear a little thin.
In his speech, Obama continued his most recent theme, bemoaning America’s addiction to oil and promising to break that addiction by giving us a substitute: an energy “methadone cocktail”, consisting of wind, sun, ethanol and electricity. What strikes me most about Obama’s campaign as I look over the transcripts of his various speeches are the similarities of the America Obama sees in 2008 and the America his predecessor, Saul Alinsky saw forty years ago.
In his Friday speech in Elkhart, Indiana Obama started with,
“We meet at a moment when this country is facing a set of challenges unlike any we’ve ever known. Right now, our brave men and women in uniform are fighting two different wars while terrorists plot their next attack. Our changing climate is putting our planet in peril and our security at risk. And our economy is in turmoil, with more and more of our families struggling with rising costs, falling incomes, and lost jobs.”
Shortly before his death in 1972, Saul Alinsky granted an extensive interview to a writer from Playboy Magazine. In discussing his upcoming plans for organizing America’s middle class Alinsky had this to say:
“They’re oppressed by taxation and inflation, poisoned by pollution, terrorized by urban crime, frightened by the new youth culture, baffled by the computerized world around them. They’ve worked all their lives to get their own little house in the suburbs, their color TV, their two cars, and now the good life seems to have turned to ashes in their mouths. Their personal lives are generally unfulfilling, their jobs unsatisfying, they’ve succumbed to tranquilizers and pep pills, they drown their anxieties in alcohol, they feel trapped in long-term endurance marriages or escape into guilt-ridden divorces. They’re losing their kids and they’re losing their dreams. They’re alienated, depersonalized, without any feeling of participation in the political process, and they feel rejected and hopeless. Their utopia of status and security has become a tacky-tacky suburb, their split-levels have sprouted prison bars and their disillusionment is becoming terminal.”
Obama’s descriptions of America are not as elaborate or detailed as Alinsky’s, but the premise has not changed. Obama’s evaluation has been updated to accommodate the intervening forty years of agitation by environmentalists but the idea is still the same. “America stinks, and it’s up to us to set it right”.
“The despair is there; now it’s up to us to go in and rub raw the sores of discontent, galvanize them for radical social change. We’ll give them a way to participate in the democratic process, a way to exercise their rights as citizens and strike back at the establishment that oppresses them, instead of giving in to apathy. We’ll start with specific issues — taxes, jobs, consumer problems, pollution — and from there move on to the larger issues: pollution in the Pentagon and the Congress and the boardrooms of the megacorporations. Once you organize people, they’ll keep advancing from issue to issue toward the ultimate objective: people power.” —Alinsky
The entire Presidential campaign of Obama seems to be a twenty-first century continuation of the organizing work of Saul Alinsky on a national scale. The tactics are the same; trash the dominant institutions and agitate his followers to demand change. To both Alinsky and Obama the great American experiment in self-government is a failure. Instead of seeing a nation of unlimited opportunity and freedom, they see an America of despair and oppression.
They would have us believe that their solutions would result in a nation of equality, justice, security and prosperity for all. Instead, the closer they come to success in implementing their remedies the closer we come to becoming the nation of despair and oppression they seek to change.
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