Bill Fletcher Jr.ColumnistsOp-EdOpinion

Don’t Wait for Obama to Fight

Bill Fletcher, Jr.

By Bill Fletcher, Jr.

NNPA Columnist

Alright team, here we are again approaching the midterm elections.  Having won both the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, we have to notice that Obama, who is an excellent campaigner, simply does not seem to know how to fight once he has the task of governing. He either concedes ground prematurely, e.g., freezing federal workers’ pay, or becomes oddly passive.  In the lead up to the 2010 midterm elections this resulted in the disaster of that November.  We are now approaching November 2014 and it feels like more of the same.

Waiting for Obama to stand up and fight is pointless.  While he may be forced into a fight, as in the situation of the government shut-down of 2013, we have to be clear that it is simply not his preferred activity.  He seems to believe that he can somehow stand above the chaos despite the fact that there are those who, at every turn, seek to cut him off at his knees.

Rather than despair, it is time to take President  Obama out of the equation. November 2014 must be about the issues that are of most importance to regular people and about candidates who will fight for them.  Let’s start with healthcare.  There is little question that the Obama administration bungled the roll-out of healthcare reform.  But it is more important to acknowledge that we needed something stronger and more universal than the Affordable Healthcare Act.  In fact, we needed Medicare for all.

The Republicans advocate nothing approaching that. They want a return to the past and if they succeed in getting a majority in the Senate, they will aim to do just that.  So, here are my questions which you should ask yourself and your friends:  What will this mean for seniors?  What will this mean for people with pre-existing conditions?  What will it mean for young people?  You see my point?  So, not only do we not need what the Republicans are offering, we need more than what Obama offered.  That means candidates who stand for Medicare for all.

Let’s try another. The Republicans were really upset about the Stimulus of 2009.  Well, without that, the economy would have remained in freefall.  The Republicans had no answer for that.  They still don’t have one. Yet, the Obama stimulus was not enough. It was not enough in terms of the total dollar amount but it was also not enough in the manner in which it was utilized.  We need to have an economic redevelopment program that promotes new industries that address the environmental crisis.  We need economic redevelopment that focuses on the occupants of the dead and dying cities where the private sector will not invest.  We need economic development for states like West Virginia that have been losing industry and must change their economy for the sake of the environment and their unemployed.  We need a bit of economic planning to get us out of this mess.  We need to elect candidates who stand for a different path.

So, as we look towards November 2014 let’s stop the whining and get busy.  Waiting for President Obama to raise the flag of fighting back is, at best, wishful thinking.  But the results of November 2014 are more important than how we are feeling about Obama at this moment.  They need to be grounded in the sort of future we want for our families.  Let’s roll.

 

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a racial justice, labor and global justice writer and activist.  Follow him on Facebook and at www.billfletcherjr.com.

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Bill Fletcher Jr.

Bill Fletcher Jr has been an activist since his teen years. Upon graduating from college he went to work as a welder in a shipyard, thereby entering the labor movement. Over the years he has been active in workplace and community struggles as well as electoral campaigns. He has worked for several labor unions in addition to serving as a senior staffperson in the national AFL-CIO. Fletcher is the former president of TransAfrica Forum; a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies; an editorial board member of BlackCommentator.com; and in the leadership of several other projects. Fletcher is the co-author (with Peter Agard) of “The Indispensable Ally: Black Workers and the Formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, 1934-1941”; the co-author (with Dr. Fernando Gapasin) of “Solidarity Divided: The crisis in organized labor and a new path toward social justice“; and the author of “‘They’re Bankrupting Us’ – And Twenty other myths about unions.” Fletcher is a syndicated columnist and a regular media commentator on television, radio and the Web.

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