Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Peter Daou Hits the Mark: Obama's Presidency Will be Defined by Righting America's Moral Ship

In the end, Barack Obama's presidency will be defined by the extent to which he attempts to right America's (badly adrift) moral ship. Providing universal quality affordable health care is only a part of that process, albeit a significant one (emphasis in original).

He defines the moral center of Obama’s platform (which is the moral center of participatory democracy itself)—what so many of us desperately want for our nation after the havoc wreaked by Bush-Cheney (and Rove, Gonzales, Rice, and assorted other criminals)—as follows: “bedrock principles of justice, fairness, and equality of opportunity.” And then he spells out what those principles mean, if we want to retrieve a democratic society and the moral foundations on which it rests:

On health care, it means stating goals clearly and refusing to accept a watered-down compromise that ends up benefiting the very same interests who are gaming the system for profit today.
It means refusing to allow the obscene enrichment of bankers at the expense of everyone else.
It means ceasing, not extending and reinforcing Bush's worst excesses on secrecy and civil liberties and detainee treatment.
It means refusing to allow the continued dismissal of gay rights.
It means refusing to allow further avoidable environmental degradation.
It means seriously re-examining our Afghanistan policy.
It means seriously re-examining our drug laws and gun laws.
It means speaking out forcefully on the widespread abuse of women -- even when it seems inopportune.
And on and on.

We can accept nothing less from this administration, if we care about our imperiled democratic experiment. If we do allow the administration to offer less, to continue its insincere Rahm-style image management techniques, its craven pandering to the wealthiest and most powerful among us, we might as well write finis to that experiment and look elsewhere in the world for societies aspiring to live by bedrock principles of justice, fairness, and equality of opportunity.

That’s what I’ve been saying over and over, and I can’t stop saying it. Because it needs to be said. It's time for the administration to stop making excuses, to cease with the coy refusal to articulate clear goals that are consistent with the progressive platform on which the president campaigned, and to stand by its promises and respect the mandate it has received from millions of Americans fed up with the Bush legacy.

If not, it's over—for all of us, as a democratic society.