For many, Obama's calls for 'change' are simply a masterful PR ploy packaged by a good-looking candidate seeking the support of an increasingly anxious electorate
Many such critics are Democrats, and quite a few of them Hillary supporters.
In light of Obama's decision to forgo public financing after publicly suggesting that he would not do so, and ofcourse the FISA (in)decision that has so riled the blogosphere recently, many-and this includes sincere Obama supporters- are left to ask:
"Is this what he means by change?" or "So much for the new politics"
For longtime Obama supporters, who see his rise and candidacy as a historical moment as important as FDR's, we often take for granted that many Democrats simply do not have the deep and broad knowledge of this man, his particuarly unique view of politics, and what has brought him to this moment.
I believe it is important that Obama supporters, after this long and at times divisive primary, begin to lay bare for our fellow Democrats what Obama means by change and how this will transform our politics.
Before I do, several First Principles.
What changes does not mean, is simply a change of parties in Washington. While that is certainly important, it is not our organizing principle. Also, the change will not come from Obama himself, outside of favored legislation ofcourse, but from the American people. He, nor any other politician, will not be a 'change agent'.
This movement seeks not revolutionary change, but transformative change. Our movement seeks to:
1. Broad and meaningful participation of average folks in our government. American democracy needs more Americans.
2. Irrevocably breaking the hold of corporate special interests on our policy making apparatus.
3. Open up all major policy discussions(healthcare, enviromental policy, ie) at the Executive level to this more attentive and engaged electorate with the now on-guard 'interests' sitting literally and figuratively right next to each other.
4. Bathed in this light and openness, the 'interests' that block change on a variety of policy will be forced to make real concessions largely because the sheer number of Americans paying attention will force their hands.
5. Finally, our political and ideological opponents, who will block change by virtue of being simply opposed will be respected. Republicans and conservatives are not evil, they are misguided. And they more broadly benefit from the current system than does the Left. Respecting them, rather than smearing them and their supporters, will make it easier to pass important, progressive legislation.
This is what we mean by Change. This is the political dispensation we seek to create. It is the Organizer's, rather than the Politicians, view of aquiring, harnessing, and marshalling Power.
Our current political culture is so riven by defensive and partisan rancor that it is impeding progress. This must end. And this generation must end it. Why continue to engage in the partisan death-battle if another option is possible?
Our frustrations of this past week, and much of the last 7 years, essentially boil down to a political culture that occurs in the dark and with a healthy assist from interests that block change.
Does anyone honestly believe, had the process been open and with the participation of the American people, we would be talking about FISA or enjoying universal health coverage?
When Barack says change doesn't happen from the 'top down, but the bottom up' he means it. More importantly, he practiced and honed it. First in the South Side, then in the Illionois Legislature, and then the US Senate.
This idea of power, our movement for change, and our desire for progress- to the cynical- may seem hopelessly naive.
To those who believe this is so, evidence of what we are doing can be seen in our attainment of goals #1 and #2. And I dare even suggest, dethroning the Clinton Machine in phase one of the movement- a hardened, battle-tested practioner in the Old Politics- as evidence as well.
Have Hope fellow Democrats, you are about to enjoy the next 8 years.