Barack Obama offered hope and “change you can believe in” to the American public in the 2008 presidential campaign. That message was totally welcome after the long awful Bush-Cheney years of foreign wars against countries that had not attacked the United States, government repression here at home, talking out of both sides of the mouth and just plain stupidity. However, Obama’s performance in office over the last four years has been terribly disappointing to many who enthusiastically voted for him four years ago. Where is our promised “change”?
To take two recent glaring cases in point, the Obama Justice Department has announced it won’t be prosecuting Goldman-Sachs for the mortgage fraud that helped cause the terrible economic crisis we’re in and that it was dropping the last two investigations into the CIA and military torture-to-death of prisoners under the Bush regime. Meanwhile, in a disturbing turn of events, a former CIA employee who exposed the use of “waterboarding” is being prosecuted instead.
Now Mitt Romney is offering us “change,” if you vote for him instead. But what change of any benefit to ordinary Americans would his election bring? He is not just a “tool” of Wall Street interests, a label that applies to many national politicians. He is Mr. Wall Street incarnate. Bain Capital, Romney’s investment firm, got its startup capital from the right-wing death-squad-sponsoring oligarchs in El Salvador, and it makes profits by buying up U.S. businesses, laying off their workers and shipping the jobs overseas.
Is this what he means when he says that he wants to run the government on business principles? How could anybody in their right mind, except for the 1 percenters and sociopaths, vote for a person like that to be president of the United States?
So what’s a caring and rational person to do in this quadrennial electoral season? Vote for the Greens, Libertarians or some other third or fourth party as a protest vote against the Demicans and Republicrats? Quite possibly. But the real hope for change is not through encouraging the corrupt and antiquated representative electoral system, regardless of who runs and gets elected — or should we more accurately say, buys their way — into office.
Genuine change that would improve the lives of ordinary Americans — the 99 percent of us — can come about only by building alternative structures of social solidarity and directly democratic decision-making. The politicians and officeholders will follow that movement or find themselves left on the sidelines.
We already have a powerful movement doing exactly that — the Occupy Wall Street movement. Here in central Vermont (Montpelier and environs) there is a very active chapter, which has been taking out the message of radical political and economic change. There are other active chapters in Barre and in the Northeast Kingdom.
On Sept. 17, the one-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, some of us will be traveling down to New York City. There we will again be doing civil disobedience to try to shut down Wall Street, the symbolic root of many of our current problems, with a system fixated on profit-making through financial speculation and wheeling and dealing rather than on human needs. If you are angry at the way things are going in this country and around the world, come and join with us. Help us make a difference for real.
Jay Moore lives in Marshfield.
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