Obama is no FDR, much less Gandhi

    crowded_street

    Over at Alternet, I have a new piece about Obama’s schizophrenic relationship to protest. Over the years, he has repeatedly pointed to Gandhi as an inspiration. And during Obama’s presidential campaign, he used the perhaps apocryphal story of FDR’s constructive relationship with the grassroots, to urge his supporters who wanted their progressive goals met to go out there and “make me do it.”

    Nevertheless, on the eve of the G-20 summit last week, President Barack Obama told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that even during his days as a community organizer in Chicago he was never a big fan of mass protests.

    With the clear intention of discouraging those who might join the looming demonstrations against the G-20, Obama explained that he was always a believer that “focusing on concrete, local, immediate issues that have an impact on people’s lives is what really makes a difference; and that having protests about abstractions [such] as global capitalism or something, generally is not really going to make much of a difference.”

    I go on to argue that these comments were really disingenuous on Obama’s part for many reasons.

    It would not have taken an incredible investigative feat to discover that the protesters descending upon Pittsburgh were doing so for very “concrete” reasons that touch their daily lives in very real ways.

    They came to advocate for greater assistance for everyday people during these tough economic times, for more serious government action on global warming ahead of the U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, and for an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that have already taken such a staggering human and financial toll.

    In fact, as a general rule of thumb, most people — whether they are diehard activists or not — don’t normally travel great distances to face ominous riot police firing rubber bullets, pepper spray and deafening sound cannons, unless they have been deeply, personally affected by the issues being protested.

    Also, given the surge of right wing protests in recent months, Obama unfortunately missed an important opportunity to encourgage pressure from the left to help forward a more progressive legislative agenda.



    Recent Stories

    • Analysis

    Strengthening intergenerational work on Israel-Palestine

    and Cherie Brown
    January 18, 2022

    Age bias and discrimination are hurting intergenerational collaboration. An IfNotNow workshop offers lessons for bridging the divide.

    • Long Read

    Should we disrupt the Democratic Party or try to take it over?

    and Paul Engler
    January 13, 2022

    How movements settle the debate on whether to engage with political parties from the inside or outside will have a profound impact on their effectiveness.

    • Feature

    Ugandans escalate movement of ‘radical rudeness’ following violent arrest over mean tweet

    January 11, 2022

    The so-called ‘world’s friendliest people’ are finding power in vulgarity as they protest the brutal torture of a novelist for ridiculing the dictator’s son.

    • Announcement

    WNV’s top stories of 2021

    December 30, 2021