In October 2008, my wife and I loaded our 6-month-old baby into her car seat and drove six hours to Reno. As 40-something new parents, a weekend road trip to walk precincts for a presidential candidate was not convenient or easy. But when we arrived at the staging ground for volunteers, we were rewarded by an inspiring sight: The line to sign in snaked through a parking lot the length of two football fields. Barack Obama's candidacy had inspired a lot of people to participate in their democracy.There is more. Read the whole article.
What I most liked about Obama was the independence and intelligence reflected in his position, taken five years earlier when it was not politically expedient, to oppose the Iraq invasion plans well before they had been put into motion. In 2008, as a terrifying financial crisis was unfolding, Obama seemed to have the combination of sound judgment and courage that our country needed in the White House. It seemed reasonable to hope that he might become an FDR-for-our-time who would hold people accountable and get us back on a path toward shared prosperity.
But three years later, not one executive from a major firm involved in the 2008 disaster has been prosecuted. On the contrary, Obama hailed the CEO of the firm that most personified the abuses -- Goldman Sachs -- as a "savvy businessman." But the rest of us continue to be punished for their crimes. We are losing homes, watching our retirements vaporize and struggling with long-term unemployment.
And those least responsible, the young, will ultimately pay the most.
To lead us forward, Obama also needed to explain to the country how wealth and power had become more and more concentrated over several decades and how that trend had reached a critical point at which it was cannibalizing our economy and corrupting our democracy. He needed to put forth a vision for how we would take our country back from the 1 percent that has only continued to amass wealth and power. But such leadership never materialized.
So a few weeks ago, my wife, daughter and I set out on another civic journey. This time the little one was riding her trike as we walked to a park in our neighborhood where about 80 people came together to form Occupy San Jose, a local affiliate of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
The mass media claims that these protesters have "no program" and just a bunch disorganized ex-hippies and college students. False. That is media, owned and operated by the top 1%, making sure that their readers get a distortion instead of the truth, a distortion that will turn them off and insulate them from any meaningful participation in a democratic movement to regain control by the bottom 99%.