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The Change We Seek: The Obama Presidency At One Year (The Communist Party Weighs In)
Political Affairs Magazine ^ | December 9, 2009 | John Bachtell

Posted on 12/13/2009 3:23:15 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet

The first year of the Obama administration is almost in the books, and pundits across the political spectrum are assessing its accomplishments.

Any assessment must be placed in context of the overall political and class balance of forces, in Congress and within the multi-class, socially diverse coalition that carried Obama to the White House.

The success, breadth and extent of President Obama’s new policy direction depend in particular on the strength and unity of the people’s forces and their ability to gain allies and mobilize at the grassroots and influence Congress.

The Obama administration must work with and unite a heterogeneous Congressional Democratic caucus to pass legislation against a united Republican opposition.

To undo the damage of eight years of ultra-right government and 30 years of ultra right political dominance, Obama must overcome a still formidable political opposition that won 46 percent of the vote in the 2008 election. The extreme right wing still influences the public through its right wing media and is engaging in rabid racist attacks on Obama and whipping up a lunatic fringe. Obama must also overcome resistance in military and intelligence circles.

But as CPUSA national chair Sam Webb notes the administration must also contend with “the interpenetration of big capital – especially finance, military and energy capital – and government, which has reached unprecedented levels.

“This reality explains why it was not possible for President Obama to even attempt the kind of radical restructuring of finance that is objectively needed. He may be president, and he may have a majority in Congress, but the majority isn’t big enough, nor is it progressive enough, nor does he have full control many aspects of state/governmental power.”

All this effects what the Obama administration (and by extension the labor-led people’s coalition) can win in Congress, the battles it picks and the extent of the compromises it must make.

That said, the field of battle is more favorable toward the working class and its allies than anytime in the past 30 years. Labor and civil rights leaders, progressives and other activists have been appointed to policy positions and advisory bodies. And while there may not be agreement on every issue, Obama seeks grassroots progressive involvement and is responsive to people’s concerns in a way the people’s force could never dream of with the Bush administration.

Policy changes and reforms are unfolding across the board. Their outcome is uncertain and will be contested every step of the way, much like the current health care reform.

The policies reflect the complex, contradictory, broad multi-class coalition that swept Obama to the White House. Some critics tend to focus on their shortcomings, but taken as a whole they are are an impressive achievement for a first year president.

Here are a few areas where the advances are most notable and where the shortcomings reflect the limited reach so far of a united, progressive working class coalition of forces.

Should Congress pass health care reform even with a weakened public option, it will do so in the face of powerful and unrelenting opposition. Aside from the establishment of Medicare and Medicaid, it would constitute the first major health care reform since national health insurance was to be part of the New Deal in 1933.

The current legislation at Obama‘s initiative, doesn’t go as far as the people’s forces had hoped, but takes the first steps to regulate the health care industry and curb their power. A public option would constitute a political earthquake, reaffirming the role of government after 30 years of anti-government right-wing propaganda and destruction. It will lay the basis for the next titanic battles for universal health care and reestablish the idea of the “public option” in other areas of economic and social life.

When the Obama administration took office it faced the deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression, the loss of 700,000 jobs a month, skyrocketing foreclosures, state and local budget crises and a financial system teetering on the edge. The Bush ultra right economic policy with its market driven, deregulation created imbalances domestically and internationally that exploded.

While the crisis continues devastating working class communities and job losses mount, the administration is implementing policies that offer some protections to the working class. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is far short of what is needed but includes job creation and preservation, aid to the states to protect education and health care funding, extended unemployment benefits for 12 million workers, reduced cost of COBRA benefits and extended credits to first time home buyers.

Most economists agree these actions took the country from the economic brink. But while profits and bonuses have been restored on Wall Street, those living on Main Street are still reeling. The private sector can’t create the 26 million needed jobs, so the administration and Congress are discussing more intervention. A jobs summit with business, labor leaders, economists and elected officials will be held in early December.

The ability of labor and its allies, including small and medium sized business to confront the stranglehold of Wall Street and finance capital on economic policy will determine how far the financial reform and government intervention process can proceed.

The Obama foreign policy is a rejection of the neoconservative single superpower unilateralism, militarism, aggression, and saber rattling, toward one stressing global collective security, cooperation and diplomacy. It is a recognition of new global realities, the rise of new global powers like China and the existence of global threats like climate change that requiring collective action.

Shortly after taking office Obama announced a timetable for withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq by 2011. Whether the withdrawal will be completed and every base closed remains to be seen since there are counter pressures from transnational corporate forces who desire a permanent presence. It’s up to the American people to insist on a total pullout.

President Obama also ended the Bush policy of permanent detention, torture and abuse of terror suspects, and renounced its legal framework. Obama began closing the secret CIA detention sites and the Guantanamo detention facility and reestablished a system of justice to try detainees. Full implementation, strengthened over site and reform is being stymied by divisions in his administration and the military and intelligence community.

Obama outlined a new foreign policy approach in three major speeches in Prague, where he called for global nuclear abolition, in Cairo where he called for resetting relations with the Muslim world and resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and in Accra, Ghana where he called for new relations with the countries of Africa.

The new direction was warmly received around the world and were reasons Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. While it’s a mixed picture the overall direction is a positive one.

Obama’s call for the global abolition of nuclear weapons is a first by an American president. The administration has taken the initial steps by scrapping the Bush policy to deploy a missile shield in Czech Republic and Poland and will sign a new START treaty with Russia to reduce the nuclear arsenals of both countries.

Obama also set in motion a new policy with Cuba that could result in the normalization of relations and an end to the 47 year old blockade. This included executive orders to end restrictions on travel and sending remittances by Cuban Americans to family and the opening of talks with the Cuban government on a broad range of issues.

There is growing support in Congress to scrap the travel ban and restrictive trade policies that have isolated the US globally. The 66 percent majority public opinion to end the blockade must be mobilized to overcome entrenched and still powerful opposition.

The biggest challenge faced by the Obama administration will be extricating the US from the deeply complex and dangerous situation in Afghanistan and Central Asia. Along with the expected surge announcement, Obama will outline an exit strategy. He is under immense pressure to maintain a US military presence and only a united majority movement for withdrawal will overcome the threat of deepening involvement that could doom the administration.

For eight years the Bush administration in total collusion with the energy monopolies blocked any progress toward a policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, rejected science and emasculated the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In a short time, Obama has responded with urgency to the climate crisis, restored science and the EPA to their rightful places.

Despite tremendous opposition from the Chamber of Commerce and the energy monopolies, the Obama administration announced goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Obama will present these goals to the Copenhagen meeting that will begin adopting a new global climate treaty. While it may not go as far as many hoped, the U.S. government is no longer seen as an obstacle to solving the climate crisis.

After decades of inaction, the EPA announced new CO2 limits for cars. The Sierra Club said this “established the nation’s first greenhouse gas standards, and puts country on a trajectory to achieve what California and 14 other states are poised to implement.”

The EPA also announced regulations to require new coal plants and other large facilities to install global warming pollution controls. Old coal burning plants including 500 responsible for 70 percent of nation’s global warming pollution will have to install controls when they modify or expand operations.

These measures have been praised by environmental groups and are seen as the first steps toward curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

President Obama has taken a number of steps to expand equality, end discrimination and strengthen worker rights that have also been widely praised. During his first weeks in office, Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, making it easier for women to sue for pay discrimination and repealed the so-called “Gag Rule,” banning U.S.-funded family planning groups based overseas from discussing or providing any abortion-related services, even with their own money.

One of his first major decisions was to nominate a Puerto Rican woman, Sonya Sotomayor, to the US Supreme Court. She made history by becoming the first Latino Justice to the high court.

Among Obama’s diverse Cabinet appointees is Hilda Solis, as Secretary of Labor. Daughter of trade unionists, Solis is a champion of labor rights and the opposite of the anti-labor Elaine Chao who served Bush. Obama has openly met with labor leaders on several occasions at the White House, addressed the AFL-CIO convention and repeatedly reiterated his support for the Employee Free Choice Act.

New AFC-CIO President Richard Trumka has called Obama “the best friend, and the best president, working people are ever going to get.”

Congress passed and President Obama signed the Matthew Shepherd and James Byrd Jr Hate Crimes Prevention Act. It had been blocked from becoming law for 10 years by Bush and ultra right in Congress.

The law expands federal hate crimes law to include crimes based on a person’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. Obama also lifted the ban against visitors with HIV to the US, is pushing for employee non-discrimination bill, repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and the Defense of Marriage Act and passage of a Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Act.

These steps have been hailed by the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender community and all supporters of civil and human rights.

By Obama’s own admission, change, no matter how small, comes by assembling broad coalitions and popular majorities both at the grassroots level and in Congress.

Obama’s Nov. 4 election night admonition rings true – the election “was not the change we seek but the opportunity to make that change.” Despite immense opposition and some wrong steps, the Obama administration has initiated a set of new policies that if pursued hold great potential for economic and social change.

Their fate certainly depends on the results of the 2010 congressional elections. We are in a period of political transition. It is up to the united labor led coalition to mobilize at the grassroots and continue to alter the balance of political forces. In so doing new chapters can be written in the struggle for the change we seek.

*******

--John Bachtell is a member of the national board of the Communist Party and chairs the Communist Party in Illinois.


TOPICS: Editorial; Government; Philosophy; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: abortion; bho44; bush; climatechange; commies; communism; communists; congress; economy; homosexualagenda; obama; obamacare; statism; totalitarian; tyranny; wot
But don't call Dear Leader a socialist or communist, because that would be racist!!
1 posted on 12/13/2009 3:23:16 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Obama has the largest presidential approval ratings freefall. Obama has dropped 21 points in 11 months.

Carter only dropped 14 points in his first 11 months. Obama is making Carter look good.

Here are the approval numbers on inauguration day, the numbers for December, and the change from inauguration day until December for each of the presidents—

IKE 66 60 -6
KENNEDY 72 78 6
NIXON 60 60 0
CARTER 69 55 -14
REAGAN 53 49 -4
BUSH 1 63 70 7
CLINTON 55 55 0
BUSH 2 59 85 26
OBAMA 68 47 -21


2 posted on 12/13/2009 3:38:14 PM PST by Presbyterian Reporter
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To: Josh Painter; ejonesie22; papasmurf; Bobbisox; DesScorp; thefactor; fieldmarshaldj; TN4Liberty; ...

Ping!


3 posted on 12/13/2009 3:41:46 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet (I will raise $2 million for Sarah Palin: What will you do?)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

“united labor led coalition” = communists. This is what this President wants. He’s got to be stopped and stopped soon.


4 posted on 12/13/2009 3:45:15 PM PST by RC2
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

btt


5 posted on 12/13/2009 3:54:20 PM PST by Cacique (quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat ( Islamia Delenda Est ))
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To: RC2
We need to qualify that...they are American Communist Crooks running on the old stench of a decades old fantasy, the Europeans and Asians who used to be commies think they are nuts.
6 posted on 12/13/2009 3:59:35 PM PST by Earthdweller (Harvard won the election again...so what's the problem.......?)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

At least someone is happy with him.


7 posted on 12/13/2009 3:59:37 PM PST by coconutt2000 (NO MORE PEACE FOR OIL!!! DOWN WITH TYRANTS, TERRORISTS, AND TIMIDCRATS!!!! (3-T's For World Peace))
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
I have to constantly remind myself that there are grave inconveniences associated with hunting these walking septic tanks.

Well, not with hunting them per se, but getting caught after successfully hunting them becomes excessively burdensome.

For now, at least.


Frowning takes 68 muscles.
Smiling takes 6.
Pulling this trigger takes 2.
I'm lazy.

8 posted on 12/13/2009 4:23:02 PM PST by The Comedian (Evil can only succeed if good men don't point at it and laugh.)
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To: Presbyterian Reporter

Interesting, but more than somewhat irrelevant. OBH contiues to dictate through his personally appointed cadre or radical “advisors” and “coordinators,” exercising thereby wholly unconstitutional powers, setting salaries of corporate executives, controlling corporations, flooding labor unions and other favored entities with money borrowed from our grandchildren, and so on and on.


9 posted on 12/13/2009 4:37:22 PM PST by Elsiejay (.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

A public option would constitute a political earthquake, reaffirming the role of government after 30 years of anti-government right-wing propaganda and destruction. It will lay the basis for the next titanic battles for universal health care and reestablish the idea of the “public option” in other areas of economic and social life.

That last line is the kicker!
What other areas are they wanting to apply this to?

reestablish the idea of the “public option” in other areas of economic and social life.


10 posted on 12/13/2009 4:44:41 PM PST by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Do these people live in an alternate universe because what they are talking about never happened in this USA?


11 posted on 12/13/2009 4:52:35 PM PST by svcw (The time is near at hand which must determine whether Americans are to be free men or slaves. GW)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

All:
This is my first serious post after lurking for a lot of years. I saw this and decided to send a copy of the article link to my high school (50 year) classmates. Some are undoubtly liberal and some are more consertive. Hopefully most are intelligent. I acknowledged Free Republic as the source of my information but did not link to the Free Republic web site.

I feel this article exposes the nature of our new presidents intentions for the future of our country as well as anything thusfar published.

Dave


12 posted on 12/13/2009 5:10:34 PM PST by det99223 ((Hope for the future of our country))
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To: det99223

You should source Political Affairs at the link provided (http://www.politicalaffairs.net/article/view/9191/1/378/) while mentioning FR as your “referrer site.”

Who knows how many of your list are already members? ;)


13 posted on 12/13/2009 5:34:29 PM PST by freedumb2003 (Communism comes to America: 1/20/2009. Keep your powder dry, folks. Sic semper tyrannis)
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To: det99223

I feel this article exposes the nature of our new presidents intentions for the future of our country as well as anything thusfar published.
* * *

In that event, I’ll bookmark this for later.


14 posted on 12/13/2009 6:01:18 PM PST by Canedawg (Bring lawyers, guns and money.)
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To: All; 2ndDivisionVet

.

The real change they seek:

Pictures of a vietnamese Re-Education Camp

http://www.Freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1308949/posts

Fo reveryqne, everywhere.

.


15 posted on 12/13/2009 6:06:58 PM PST by ALOHA RONNIE ("ALOHA RONNIE" Guyer/Veteran-"WE WERE SOLDIERS" Battle of IA DRANG-1965 http://www.lzxray.com)
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To: Presbyterian Reporter

Bookmark for later


16 posted on 12/13/2009 6:47:40 PM PST by ru4liberty
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To: tet68; 2ndDivisionVet
"the idea of the “public option” in other areas of economic and social life." That last line is the kicker! Exactly. That line give me the chills.

It's worth noting this closing line too however: "the Obama administration has initiated a set of new policies that if pursued hold great potential for economic and social change. Their fate certainly depends on the results of the 2010 congressional elections."

Much of this collectivist BS can be stopped in its tracks with serious GOP gains next year...and a new administration in 2012 can put it to bed - what can be done by legislative fiat can be undone.

17 posted on 12/13/2009 11:45:14 PM PST by americanophile (Merry Christmas!)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
I'm having trouble deciding if he's more of a Muslim, or more of a Communist. Come to think of it, wasn't that what his daddy was, a third-worldy Muslim Communist? Like father, like son.
18 posted on 12/14/2009 10:20:18 AM PST by mojito
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To: Presbyterian Reporter

Hey, You are WRONG!!
OBOZO is now at 44%, so he is down 24 points and not the 21 you show..:-) and the month of December isn’t over for another TWO WEEKS YET!!!!!! I have confidence in ZERO!! he will be even worse by Decemeber 31st!
Infact, there is only one flaming butt that makes OBOZO appear better than he is, and that is whem you compare OBOZO to OBERDOUCHE......:-(I wish NBC Sports would drop that Putz from its Sunday Night Football Coverage, even the NBC Sportscasters obviously cant stand him.....


19 posted on 12/14/2009 11:06:32 AM PST by True Republican Patriot (May GOD Continue to BLESS Our Great President George W. Bush!!)
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To: Presbyterian Reporter

Hey, You are WRONG!!
OBOZO is now at 44%, so he is down 24 points and not the 21 you show..:-) and the month of December isn’t over for another TWO WEEKS YET!!!!!! I have confidence in ZERO!! he will be even worse by Decemeber 31st!
Infact, there is only one flaming butt that makes OBOZO appear better than he is, and that is whem you compare OBOZO to OBERDOUCHE......:-(I wish NBC Sports would drop that Putz from its Sunday Night Football Coverage, even the NBC Sportscasters obviously cant stand him.....


20 posted on 12/14/2009 11:06:49 AM PST by True Republican Patriot (May GOD Continue to BLESS Our Great President George W. Bush!!)
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To: True Republican Patriot

Mine are from Gallup numbers that may not be as low as Rasmussen.

What remains important is the relative change in popularity since inauguration day. Obama’s drop is awesome.


21 posted on 12/14/2009 12:22:31 PM PST by Presbyterian Reporter
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To: Presbyterian Reporter

My apologies....I just happened to see the headline to the right here at FR with a posting that the latest Ramussen was 44%and wanted to have some “FUN” with it..... I personally cant see how anybody can in good conscience approve of the KENYAN IDIOT! but then we know the Demorats have been buying off alot of stupid, illiterate and dysfunctional Nitwiyts for their alleged Votes for years now.....Really Pathetic that a Major Poliyical Party is out to DESTROY AMERICA! Really Disgusting! and especially as Our Heros Fight in IRAQ, AFGHANISTAN, and Around the WORLD To Keep Us Safe and Protect Our Freedoms!!!....:-(


22 posted on 12/14/2009 12:39:46 PM PST by True Republican Patriot (May GOD Continue to BLESS Our Great President George W. Bush!!)
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