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It’s nice to see the electorate finally rejecting the same old Raw Deal.

On the other hand, we’re pretty far away from a new New Deal, except for bankers. In fact, we could be in for a long tour of Hooverville.

I know, that’s not what you want to hear about The One.

He’s pretty. Like Kennedy, only moral, and he writes most of his own stuff, which is nice. Daddy didn’t fund his political career.

But his policies on education (charter schools: yum!) and health care (buy your own!) are miles away from the “socialism” that Dumb and Dumber have labelled them.

Sad to say, but if you’re inclined to view the moment through the lens of a potential Second Great Depression, then Obama’s positioned a heck of lot more like Hoover than FDR.

Hoover was a moderate, progressive, market regulationist–like Obama, who invokes Chicago-school praise for markets with the idea that they occasionally need to be managed lightly. The New York Times, unsurprisingly, thinks Obama’s market allegiance is just dandy; Naomi Klein, however, warns in the Nation that Obama’s Chicago Boys represent “the left side of a spectrum that stops at the center-right.”

This center-right posture invokes as its happy horizon the good metrics but growing desperation of the quality-managed Clinton economy (yay Wal-mart!). Oh boy, can’t wait to get back to the world of Nickel and Dimed! No kidding: the 37-year-old head of Obama’s economic policy team is an avid Wal-mart apologist, who thinks the problem isn’t Wal-mart, it’s the pesky unions and such trying to raise wages.

Any guesses how this will translate into Obama’s quality management promise to “lower costs” in higher education and health care?

You guessed it–adjuncts, more adjuncts, student labor, independent contractors galore!

There’s no New Deal in the Obama platform.

His yakity-yak about affordability is really more of the same “quality” crap already slung down your gullet by fellow technocrats Clinton and Gore.

You’ve lived Obama’s ambition already: gutting the professions, hiring students to take on debt–no bailout for them!–and while in school work longer and longer hours at positions that used to be careers, then–voila! no jobs for the student when they graduate, ’cause the work is being done by those who haven’t graduated yet.

Or by the retired, the undocumented, the independently contracting, or those working off the books for the contractors, those who dropped out of the hilarious web of lies relating higher education to work in this country.

All Obama wants is to restore the lousy Clinton economy. You remember, the one that institutionalized permanent retrenchment, deregulation of work rules to free up management for “flexiblity,” permatemping, and the like.

Unless…

Unless we stop him.

Here’s the thing. FDR didn’t campaign on New Deal legislation: he campaigned on curbing Hoover’s wasteful spending.

Circumstances handed FDR the opportunity to be a whole heck of a lot better, smarter, more heroic, brilliant and charming than his campaign promised. He had the wits to seize the chance. And–this being the era of the CIO, the CP-USA, and reds in breadlines and classrooms everywhere–we had the wits and organization to push him.

The same could happen to Obama. At least the circumstances could happen. But will we push him to be better, the way we pushed FDR?

Here’s my point, folks. We can’t sit on our tushies and wait for “The One,” with his warmed-over Clintonism and his Wal-mart loving economic advisors to fix our problems, in Kennedy’s words, “with a stroke of a pen.”

Those are the words that Handsome Jack used in shopping himself to the civil rights movement: he’d end discrimination in federally-funded housing, he promised, with a pen-stroke. Just as soon as he was elected, I’ll get ‘er done. First hundred days. You wait and see.

They waited. And found that getting her done–one little piece of civil rights, a gesture, really, a stroke of the executive pen–required activists to embarass the heck out of ol’ Jack.

Kennedy signed only after being targeted with an “Ink for Jack” campaign: thousands of pens mailed to the White House by civil rights for activists. Just to get him to live up to the fairly small steps he’d promised.

So we can have the Obama of the campaign or, likely, quite a bit less: a Hoover, a Clinton, a Kennedy–who required Johnson to make his promises true post-mortem. In his soul, Obama’s like Clinton and Hoover, a charming moderate technocrat, a friendly tinkerer and fixer.

Or we can make him into our FDR. He may not go willingly. But it’s our choice. We can drag him into greatness. We can make him spend a few hundred billion on education. And a real health-care plan, not the sorry crap he’s been pushing.

As the folks from GSOC-UAW point out in the clip above (part 3 of 4); the TRACBRA legislation we discuss in the video, ensuring bargaining rights for teaching and research assistants–that’s a gesture, a drop in the bucket. It’s important, but nowhere near as important as self-organization.

Take it from the folks of GSOC: politics, politicians, and legislation follow activism and self-organization. Not the other way ’round.

See part 1 of the GSOC-UAW video: A Union Cannot Stand Alone.
See part 2 of the GSOC-UAW video: A Culture of Continuous Organizing.



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