Changing Obama’s Mindset

What’s required is a total turn around. We want a country that uses its resources, its wealth, and its power to help people, not to hurt them. That’s what we need. This is a vision we have to keep alive. We shouldn’t be easily satisfied and say, “Oh well, give him a break. Obama deserves respect.”

But you don’t respect somebody when you give them a blank check. You respect somebody when you treat them as an equal to you, and as somebody you can talk to and somebody who will listen to you.

Not only is Obama a politician. Worse, he’s surrounded by politicians. And some of them he picked himself. He picked Hillary Clinton, he picked Lawrence Summers, he picked people who show no sign of breaking from the past.

We are citizens. We must not put ourselves in the position of looking at the world from their eyes and say, “Well, we have to compromise, we have to do this for political reasons.” No, we have to speak our minds.

This is the position that the abolitionists were in before the Civil War, and people said, “Well, you have to look at it from Lincoln’s point of view.” Lincoln didn’t believe that his first priority was abolishing slavery. But the anti-slavery movement did, and the abolitionists said, “We’re not going to put ourselves in Lincoln’s position. We are going to express our own position, and we are going to express it so powerfully that Lincoln will have to listen to us.”

And the anti-slavery movement grew large enough and powerful enough that Lincoln had to listen. That’s how we got the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth and Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments.

That’s been the story of this country. Where progress has been made, wherever any kind of injustice has been overturned, it’s been because people acted as citizens, and not as politicians. They didn’t just moan. They worked, they acted, they organized, they rioted if necessary to bring their situation to the attention of people in power. And that’s what we have to do today.

Howard Zinn via