Thursday, October 30, 2008

Obama's Change, Good or Bad?

Barack Obama, in 2001:

You know, if you look at the victories and failures of the civil-rights movement, and its litigation strategy in the court, I think where it succeeded was to vest formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples. So that I would now have the right to vote, I would now be able to sit at a lunch counter and order and as long as I could pay for it, I’d be okay, but the Supreme Court never entered into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society.

And uh, to that extent, as radical as I think people tried to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution — at least as it’s been interpreted, and Warren Court interpreted it in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties: [It] says what the states can’t do to you, says what the federal government can’t do to you, but it doesn’t say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf.

And that hasn’t shifted, and one of the, I think, the tragedies of the civil-rights movement was because the civil-rights movement became so court-focused, uh, I think that there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change. And in some ways we still suffer from that.

A caller then helpfully asks: “The gentleman made the point that the Warren Court wasn’t terribly radical. My question is (with economic changes)… my question is, is it too late for that kind of reparative work, economically, and is that the appropriate place for reparative economic work to change place?”

Obama replies:

You know, I’m not optimistic about bringing about major redistributive change through the courts. The institution just isn’t structured that way. [snip] You start getting into all sorts of separation of powers issues, you know, in terms of the court monitoring or engaging in a process that essentially is administrative and takes a lot of time. You know, the court is just not very good at it, and politically, it’s just very hard to legitimize opinions from the court in that regard.

So I think that, although you can craft theoretical justifications for it, legally, you know, I think any three of us sitting here could come up with a rationale for bringing about economic change through the courts.”

Just read the above quotes, hear to them again, and let them sink in. What is actually being proposed here is not the creation of wealth and certainly not the creation of opportunity, but simply taking money from the successful and hard-working and distributing it to those whom the government decides “deserve” it. Now that’s just garden-variety socialism, which apparently is not a big deal to many American voters. But then think about what he is saying about the US constitution.

The United States of America leads the world economically, militarily, scientifically, and culturally and by a spectacular margin. Any one of these achievements, taken alone, would be cause for enormous pride. To dominate as it does in all four arenas has no historical precedent. That it has achieved so much in so many areas is due in a large part to the structure of its civil society as outlined in the Constitution of the United States.

The entire purpose of the US Constitution was to limit government. That limitation of powers is what has unlocked in America the vast human potential available in any population. It has empowered the common citizen to achieve his full potential in any endeavor.

The first quote tells us that Obama believes in the redistribution of wealth and the second quote tells us that he thinks it should be brought about by the executive branch. Barack Obama sees the limiting of government as a fatal flaw, which should be corrected.

And this is not just a flashback, even on the campaign trail, Obama has talked about his preference for wealth distribution.

I do not think that in recent history, as far as I can remember, the US has ever had such a presidential candidate who so completely and openly opposes the idea of limited government, which is the absolute cornerstone of what makes the United States of America unique and exceptional.

Had I been a US citizen, this is perhaps the most challenging election I would have voted in. Why didn't the Republicans come up with a better choice? The US voters deserve better than Mc-Palin.


Vinod_Sharma said...

Wonderful insight Sagarone.

Obama spoke and speaks about redistribution of wealth and the role of the government in doing that because he has risen from and seen the 'other side' first hand. And that side was probably not even in the frame when the constitution was drafted... of the whites, for the whites and by the whites it was back then when blacks were no more than slaves to be bought and sold like merchandise.

Having grown up with that awareness he has consistently maintained his position. Had America's economy been robust and had ordinary white Americans not been hit as they have been, the Republicans would not have let him get away. Do they really have a choice when a few greedy Wall Street honchos have created an almost unprecedented and untimely(for them)collapse?

America has to change. In more ways than one. And Obama is saying just that.

Anrosh said...

i like when obama talks. but i am more interested what his staff will be. who will be his advisers. will they have the same bill clinton team. though the financial grave is big, the climatic grave is bigger and what kind of policies are they going to enforce. will renewable energy be the next dot com ? and magdalene albright be back again. i am not surprised at the sudden drop in oil prices ( the election gimmick) obama has a tough 4 years in front of him. he will have to think extrememly differently to see some "change" happening, otherwise it will be only be the same old same old. people are so pampered here that they will whine and curse to death if they cannot shop till they drop..

Does it matter said...

Absolutely yes.
Pointing you to my blog post to avoid typing ;-)