Cornel West is every where right now with his complaints about Obama. I am sure most of you have read by now his rant concerning Obama in Chris Hedge’s post on Truthdig.com, or even watched the video debate between him and Al Sharpton. And now, The Root is saying that academic elites are arguing with each other on Twitter about whether or not Cornel was too personal or if his political arguments are legit.
Personally, if you are a progressive, then Cornel’s political arguments are legitimate. We should have been able to get the public option in healthcare, Obama may be pandering to corporate elites too much, African American’s aren’t getting jobs..etc. etc. However, I am more in agreement with Ta-Nehisi Coates (in his comments of the linked blog), being that I am 1. not a progressive (I’m more moderate) and 2. believe that Obama has been very honest in what he said he was going to be able to accomplish and He really should not focus his attention on just the lower class (or even Blacks for that matter).
I don’t think Obama should focus his attention..I think WE should. We the people need to do more to fight for our own people. Complaining is not enough.
What people fail to realize (maybe because a of a lack of understanding of how the political process works) the ‘power’ behind the presidency or any political action (national, state or local) comes from public engagement.
It is Congress that votes for bills/amendments. The President introduces, and ultimately vetoes if he doesn’t like what is being sent to him. He negotiates with congressional members to pass bills that he really wants to make it. But ultimately it’s the members of Congress who votes and hold the power.
Who influences Congressional members? WE DO. We vote them into office. We are the ones who help them keep their jobs, WE are the ones who pay their bills. They are held accountable to the people. Yet, not enough people actually hold them accountable. We complain about the President not working hard enough to influence them. He needs US to help him do that. Congressional members live, eat and breathe on the necessity to keep their jobs. If the President can threaten them with the possibility of a group of voters who can make or break them, either by passing the bill he is working on, or saying he will help them with their own pet project that will keep them in office, then he is golden. THAT’s how these negotiations work.
When the public option was up for debate. Where were we (black folks..poor folks….THE ACADEMIC ELITE who are ‘fighting for us’)? Sitting close to the television watching the action? Probably not even doing that. Or were we actually helping Obama by calling, writing, and harassing our elected representatives and putting pressure on them to vote in support of the public option? No we weren’t, but I can guarantee you the Tea Party and the Republicans were calling the officials they put into office and making sure they got what they wanted. In the end, Obama had to throw public option under the bus in order to get a health care bill passed.
The Tea Party has a lot of power and money. Yet, most of the followers are poor/middle class white people. Their power comes from large numbers of ordinary people who are angry enough to complain, to raise money, and to vote for who they want into office. They organized themselves to becoming one of the most influential parties in the nation. They have taken control of the House, and are working to repeal the the healthcare measure altogether, almost succeeded in shutting the gov’t down, and there’s no telling what other crap they got in store.
WE have the power to influence congress as well..but instead we are ‘waiting’ for ONE PERSON to do what we should be doing for ourselves. We can not simply submit our vote for President and wait and see what happens. We have to be active and engaged in the whole process!
Until we get that..Black People, Poor people, and the progressives are going to keep losing, Black President or not.
What do you think?