“Too Small to Fail”: President Obama and the Dilemma of Political Parties
by Alex Hammer
President Obama is up against it.
While it is certainly possible that Barack has utilized change language to in fact mask a more traditional interest and/or partisan focus, I believe instead that the President genuinely wants to be “a different kind of politician” bringing “a different kind of politics” to our country. But I think he is also trapped in a political system — significantly involving the overriding influence of political parties and the interests to which they become beholden — that prevents him from doing this.
I voted for Barack Obama for President. I like him. In addition to following him through the press like most Americans (I follow politics as best as I can across the political spectrum) like many I’ve read his two autobiographies. I found them powerful and authentic. I think that the President has already in a somewhat brief National political career significantly raised the level of dialogue across important issues in this country. I’m almost now finished reading Obama’s presidential campaign manager David Plouffe’s new book “The Audacity to Win”, and this further reinforces to me the strength and grit of our President in facing the pressures he encountered on his road to the Presidency.
I don’t think that President Obama gives in easily at all to things that he doesn’t believe in.
But then you have some disturbing facts. The change candidate — now President — may have changed things just a little too much. Bailing out the banks, recently announced involving now an expanded timeline, when that money should have reached, primarily, individual Americans who are hurting. It has not trickled down because unemployment, for example, is still through the roof. Last I heard the banks had record profits, and it was the lack of regulation by government that allowed them to take the exorbitant risks in the first place that resulted in the financial crisis (and too favorable policies, some argue, that allowed them to use excessive risk and a lack of prudence to grow on the backs of now decimated consumers to become “too big to fail”).
I’d like to see individual Americans that face financial crisis be “too small to fail”. I am very pro-business — in my campaign for Governor of Maine I state that Maine is now open for (sustainable) business. I believe that businesses that demonstrate that they are good corporate citizens and are respectful of their communities, including the environment, are more economically viable over the long term because they provide greater value.
Certainly, these Wall Street companies were allowed to siphon off false value for themselves while transferring unacceptable levels of business risk to third parties.
Including, at the end to the government which bailed them out with our money.
In regard to the stimulus, is it the middle class and everyday citizens, who Barack promised to be responsive and accountable to, or has it been the traditional monied interests who have profited the most? Just as Barack caught on early that President Bush’s rhetoric for getting into Iraq was a potential scandal, I believe that while it is too early to say definitively, that the stimulus and bailouts, in regard to who it was given to and the way that that was sold, may grow into a major scandal as well.
Some people say we couldn’t afford the stimulus. While I am extraordinarily concerned about our nation’s level of debt and what that means in regard to the strength of the dollar etc. I would be able to swallow the stimulus much more easily if it had been used to target the individual US citizen more directly, and also if it did not employ such STIMULUS PORK. I haven’t studied the stimulus bill beyond what I read in the press, but I do know that over $52 million is going in my hometown (Bangor, Maine) to renovate for energy efficiency improvements etc. a single federal building where one of our state’s US Senators has an office. How many hundreds of years (???) or longer would it take to offset $52+ million by energy cost savings in one building (the rationale for the $52+ million has also been that it creates temporary construction jobs, etc.). My state is really really really hurting and could use that money, if designated, to fix roads and bridges in tremendous need (interestingly, the cost to rebuild the entire building from scratch is not that much more than the $52+ million that will be spend on this stimulus project).
A couple of hundred million dollars in stimulus money went to a single foreign company, for alternative energy, now being investigated I believe for this receipt of money (separately, at least one member of Congress has written Obama over large payment given to domestic alternative energy company). As mentioned, this has been only on the periphery of my radar screen, so there may be (I wouldn’t be surprised) many more of these cases of which I am not aware.
The key point in all of this is that Obama appears boxed in by large corporate interests, which hold significant sway over both major political parties (healthcare and the role of insurance companies some say is another additional illustration).
President Obama is being forced to help the large corporations first and foremost. I realize that it is business that creates jobs, but a major component of that is small business. My state, Maine, is extremely dependent upon small business. Now Obama is looking to see what he can perhaps do for small business a little bit more, except that we’re now as a nation pretty much out of money and a stimulus number two of any major size isn’t viable.
In Maine there are more Independents than either Democrats or Republicans. There are huge numbers of Independents across the country as well. I’ve written on this site recently how “Independents are a Sleeping Giant in This Country”. People perhaps think that they have no check on one major party except by the other major party, and that is because Independents are strongly held down in this country from having the representation that their numbers would suggest or even a minute fraction of it.
But it is also collectively us as well. We haven’t stood up as a nation and said “Enough”. This is our country and we want it back. Maybe we don’t know how to do that effectively. Maybe we’ve been given limited options.
In my state we imposed term limits when politicians seemed to be getting carried away with their power, and we have continual referendum questions in large numbers for citizens to vote and decide issues directly that the two major parties in Augusta (our state capitol) have been unable to solve over long periods of time on their own (it should be noted also that one party in Maine has had very close to legislative control in the state for decades).
I feel sorry for President Obama. What is he to do? Hey, he could always decide to become an Independent.
Alex Hammer is an Independent candidate for Governor of Maine.