Monday, May 11, 2009

We Must Put on the Pressure for Big Change to Happen

In his latest post, Mike Lux, author of The Progressive Revolution, argues that...

the stars are aligned for another Big Change Moment: an era like the 1860s, early 1900s, 1930s, and 1960s where a lot of big transformational changes happen in a very short period of time.
Lux, however, says something is missing from this Big Change Moment.
But every day there's another reminder that we are not there yet, that -- as in all other Big Change Moments in our country's history -- big change will not come without a big fight. As Frederick Douglass said in perhaps the greatest single quote in American history:
If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will... men may not get all they pay for in this world; but they must certainly pay for all they get.
Our struggle today is against special interests who have blanketed Wasington DC and every state capital with campaign donations...
And we struggle today against the power of massively wealthy special interests -- big oil, big insurance and pharmaceutical companies, big banks -- to make big change. The struggles aren't always as dramatic as they were in past times, but the nature of those fights is very much the same. We don't have the same level of physical violence, but the economic and political violence is just as real as in those historical struggles.

You want specifics? I'll give you specifics:
  • The defeat of banking legislation that would have let 1.7 million homeowners restructure their mortgages
  • The warnings of Arlen Specter and Ben Nelson and Olympia Snowe- and, of course, the health insurance lobby- against including a public health plan option in health care reform
  • The complaints- by some Democrats!- against being able to pass health care reform measures with 51 votes in the Senate
  • The trouble Obama's energy/climate change legislation is already running into in both the House and the Senate
  • Complaints against Obama's plan to help students get better deals on college loans at the expense of lenders
  • Complaints from some Democrats about Obama's plan to tax overseas investment and outsourcing of American jobs
The powers that be, who have bestowed millions of dollars in campaign contributions to their friends in the House and Senate, are fighting big change with everything they have.
This post reminds of what David Sirota wrote following the innauguration in an article about putting pressure on Obama and Congressional Democrats to get progressive legislation passed.
As former House Republican leader Tom DeLay said, he and his colleagues deliberately started "every policy initiative from as far to the political right" as possible, so as to shift "the center farther to the right." The formula emulated Franklin D. Roosevelt's fabled admonishment to allies: "I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it." [...]

Of course, that triumph was the country's loss, as Republican policies thrust the political center off a conservative precipice and America into an economic freefall. And as we plummet, we are desperately groping for a lifeline.

If we are lucky and we end up snagging one that saves us - a huge if - it will be one that is strong enough to snap the center back from the conservative brink. This super-durable bungee cord must have the force of law, meaning it will be woven by Democratic legislators now exerting as much pressure on President Obama's left as congressional Republicans focused on President Bush's right.

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