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The Age of Obama: What Went Wrong (and How to Fix It) -- Van Jones

US Politics & Gov't  (tags: abuse, americans, candidates, congress, constitution, corruption, cover-up, crime, democrats, dishonesty, economy, elections, Govtfearmongering, healthcare, housing, lies, media, military, obama, news, politics, propaganda, republicans, socialsecurity, Su )

- 2273 days ago -
The 2008 campaign was a campfire around which millions gathered. But after the election, it was nobody's job or role to tend that campfire. The White House was focused on the minutiae of passing legislation, not on the magic of leading a movement.

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Kit B (276)
Saturday March 31, 2012, 2:07 pm
(Photo: Pete Souza / White House)

The 2008 campaign was a campfire around which millions gathered. But after the election, it was nobody’s job or role to tend that campfire. The White House was focused on the minutiae of passing legislation, not on the magic of leading a movement. Obama For America did the best that it could, but the mass gatherings, the idealism, the expanded notions of American identity, the growing sense of a new national community, all of that disappeared.

It goes without saying that clear thinking and imaginative problem solving are easier in hindsight, away from the battlefield. I was in the White House for six months of 2009, and I was outside of it afterward. I had some of the above insights at the time, but many did not come to me in the middle of the drama and action. Most are the product of deeper reflection, which I was able to do only from a distance.

Nonetheless, the exercise of trying to sort out what might have been and trying to understand why nobody was able to make those things happen in real time has informed this book and shaped my arguments going forward.

I say Obama relied on the people too little, and we tried to rely on him too much.
Let me speak personally: looking back, I do not think those of us who believed in the agenda of change had to get beaten as badly as we were, after Obama was sworn in. We did not have to leave millions of once-inspired people feeling lost, deceived, and abandoned. We did not have to let our movement die down to the level that it did.

The simple truth is this: we overestimated our achievement in 2008, and we underestimated our opponents in 2009.

By Van Jones, Yes! Magazine | Op-Ed | Truthout|

This article is adapted from Rebuild the Dream, Van Jones' new book.
(Which I can proudly say I have a signed copy.)

Please do read the full article. Rebuild the Dream is one of the most dynamic organizations I have seen or been a part of in many years. I am proudly a member and have hosted many meetings in my home.


Fiona Ogilvie (565)
Saturday March 31, 2012, 2:49 pm
Dear Kit, I love Caturday news, all things caturday, and all things cat. So from now on I will look forward to your Caturday news. The witchy cat may even review the caturday news with me.

I was so elated when Obama won. I celebrated overlong. Maybe he celebrated overlong. Then on the January anniversary of his coronation, sorry inauguration, I realized I had not been celebrating any "change I could believe in". A competent, confident politician would have realized a lot of political capital out of his landslide.

Cam V (417)
Saturday March 31, 2012, 2:53 pm
Obamanation is not something that will keep America strong or growing Kit. I will always note your news friend because I know you speak from your heart. But you are wrong about him.

Jason S (50)
Saturday March 31, 2012, 3:08 pm
Good Posting, Thanks

Kit B (276)
Saturday March 31, 2012, 3:58 pm

Wrong about Obama? Cam, do you think for a moment I support the erosion of Constitutional rights? That I would or do support these useless and expensive wars of opportunity? That I was just kidding when I said this so-called health plan will not work? I think he is a very bright man, with that unique ability to charm the crowd - some call it charisma, he does have that. I didn't drink from the Kool-Aid bar, I just didn't see a choice. In fact, right now my choice is to vote for an idiot or Slippery Sam. For the first time ever I am considering not voting.

Kit B (276)
Saturday March 31, 2012, 4:00 pm

I want to correct that - he is the president, and the leader of the democratic party. I have no business calling him names. Though I am grievously disappointed and do think that Van Jones has some very workable solutions.

Vallee R (280)
Saturday March 31, 2012, 6:00 pm
Lost that post so will try again- what went wrong - we voted for the best puppet but didn't realize that was what we were doing. But I'll vote again with a write-in - Ron Paul. Obama worked under Kissinger for the CIA years ago, is NOT a US citizen etc., etc... how could we have known - charisma - he sounded great.

Billie C (2)
Saturday March 31, 2012, 8:11 pm
the bill of goods we were sold stinks. it was rotten from the beginning. obama was never the man for the job.

. (2)
Saturday March 31, 2012, 11:37 pm
I don't know what went wrong with Obama. The birthers were doing their best and they haven't given up.

I'm proud to share that our own Evil Sheriff Arpaio is still very busy with the noose. lol

KS Goh (0)
Sunday April 1, 2012, 2:55 am
Thanks for the article.

Chien Chao (105)
Sunday April 1, 2012, 4:20 am
thank you

Kerrie G (116)
Sunday April 1, 2012, 7:50 am
Noted, thanks.

Craig Pittman (52)
Sunday April 1, 2012, 9:06 am
Thanks for the thought provoking article Kit. Here in Canada the Opposition party has removed the word socialist from its original title and agenda. So all of our political parties are either centre or right of centre.
To me that is just another way of saying they take their directives from corporations and not the citizens.
As an outsider it appears you in the U.S. are in a similar situation. I sure hope the pendulum swings to the left somehow in November.

Kit B (276)
Sunday April 1, 2012, 9:33 am

Craig there is no left any longer, no balance of ideas, no social conscience only the purchase and ownership of governmental offices. We are no longer a republic nor do we even pretend to use the democratic system. The candidates with the most money, or best access to change the voting mechanism will win.

David C (129)
Sunday April 1, 2012, 9:44 am
better than any options coming up in the next election.....I agree that too many people relied on him too much...amazing how many that I know that stopped making calls, signing petitions, phoning or writing the White House.....perhaps its because so many out there are trying to survive -- keep a job, stay healthy, etc.....

. (0)
Sunday April 1, 2012, 11:04 am
What went wrong is, the American people thought they were electing a leader. Instead, they elected a lost sheep.

LaurenBackSoon Kozen (173)
Sunday April 1, 2012, 11:37 am
Interesting Article. Thanks Kit.

Dee C (229)
Sunday April 1, 2012, 12:41 pm
I have to has been a very long time since I have put any candidate so far up on a pedestal that I am ever disappointed..In my years I have learned that is a very foolish thing to do..
I do believe he did the best he could do in most things that he promised..and where he didn't..well..not sure what or why that happened..But I also know that there are many who really tried to prevent things from is the case with many presidents..
But I will say..the worst that I see going on is in the last decade or more even..politics have taken such a horribly sad..and quite nasty turn..and in that I am most disappointed..
I have never seen such disrespect.. nastiness..and utter childish fighting among the parties/people and candidates..I don't really even bother to waste my time reading or listening to either side any more..It has just gone down the sewer..propaganda..hate..backstabbing..all of it..just sad..


M B (62)
Sunday April 1, 2012, 1:36 pm
What went wrong ? As soon as Obama appeared with something, the Reps were against it. Never mind how good it would be, they focused on neglecting everything. If it was their own idea, it would have been "good". Do you get it ? It was always about "how can we interrupt Obama", never mind on what. The ideas of Obama aren't so bad, but they are always opposed - only because the Reps didn't have the idea first. That makes me angry, because it's at the cost of decent politics. People would be better off, if there was more "Blue". Blue simply gets outnumbered by "Red".
Corporations shouldn't be able to buy power, and polititians shouldn't be able to buy votes. Inbetween you got those dangerous fools, and last but not least there's the "agent provocateur"(Ron Paul). We all know that he likes to provoke.....Don't make promises you can't keep!
I hope that people are wise enough at the elections - speak up before it's too late. GO OCCUPY !!

Mary Donnelly (47)
Sunday April 1, 2012, 5:07 pm
Thanks Kit--seems like a good book.

Past Member (0)
Sunday April 1, 2012, 5:15 pm
Americans Elect Presidential Candidates Respond to the Entrance of Rocky Anderson

Rocky Anderson

Cam, what makes you think you have a seat at the table? Why don't you do something about that nimrod you got running things in Canada?

. (2)
Monday April 2, 2012, 1:29 am
This is still the best answer I can come up with.

Zee Kallah (43)

Saturday March 31, 2012, 11:37 pm
I don't know what went wrong with Obama. The birthers were doing their best and they haven't given up.

I'm proud to share that our own Evil Sheriff Arpaio is still very busy with the noose. lol


Charles O (209)
Monday April 2, 2012, 1:48 am
You're right, Kit: The whole article is well-worth reading. There are many, many quotable lines. For example:

> But the main problem was that the movement itself was naïve and enamored enough that it wanted to be absorbed and directed. Instead of marching on Washington, many of us longed to get marching orders from Washington.

-- Van Jones, "The Age of Obama: What Went Wrong (and How to Fix It)", *Yes! Magazine*, 21 Mar 2012

Here's another example:

> The conventional wisdom is that Obama went too far to the left to accommodate his liberal base. In my view, the liberal base went too far to the center to accommodate Obama. The conventional wisdom says that Obama relied on Congress too much. I say Obama relied on the people too little, and we tried to rely on him too much. Once it became obvious that he was committed to bipartisanship at all costs, even if it meant chasing an opposition party that was moving further to the right every day, progressives needed to reassess our strategies, defend our own interests, and go our own way.

Here's a third:

> In America, change comes when we have two kinds of leaders, not just one. We need a president who is willing to be pushed into doing the right thing, and we need independent leaders and movements that are willing to do the pushing. For a few years, Obama’s supporters expected the president to act like a movement leader, rather than a head of state.

. .

This supports my contention that we turned Obama into a "Messiah". When we did that, we threw away our credibility and our movement.

The job of the adult citizen is to serve as a check on power and corruption. But that rule has been forgotten here in America. The bogus "Two Party System" has turned us into adolescent cheerleaders. We hated Bush because he spoke with a drawl -- forget 9/11, forget Afghanistan, forget Iraq. We loved Clinton because he played the saxophone -- forget the massacre at Waco, forget the cover-up at Oklahoma City, forget the dismemberment of Yugoslavia, forget the bombing of the Sudan, forget the bombing of Iraq. Clinton was cool, and that is all that mattered. It's the "cult of personality", as the Soviets used to say, refering to Stalin.

Because we become mere cheerleaders, our activism is forgotten. Our desire for change is overwhelmed by our desire for a Father Figure or our desire for a Seat At The Table.

If I sound angry, it's because I am. We wasted the eight years under Clinton. We could have been struggling against war. Instead, we laughed about sex and went along with the 1999 aggression and all of the NPR lies that justified it. So when Bush came along, the precedent for aggression was set.

Well now, at least, we're getting serious. We're now realizing that change begins with us, not with the politician at the top.

When I criticize those who worship Obama, it's not because I hate Obama. It's because the worshipful attitude stops political progress in its tracks. The more we worship Obama, the more we drag him down. We should care less about Obama and more about the people who are all around us. That's where the struggle begins.

Lynn Squance (235)
Monday April 2, 2012, 5:32 pm
MJM --- Cam has informed me several times of just how wrong I am in not supporting that nimrod --- he is a supporter of the nimrod!

I know that I, as a Canadian, watch the US political scene with interest because it gives me ideas where we might be heading. Our nimrod, and I have called him that many times before, is a Baby Bush wannabe, only with more intelligence and cunning. I believe, although our countries are different and I celebrate that difference, we are also sharing the same continent and cannot help but influence eachother in various ways.


Past Member (0)
Monday April 2, 2012, 5:54 pm
Perhaps this article will shed some light on Cam and why he's like that..

Conservatism Thrives on Low Intelligence and Poor Information.


Lynn Squance (235)
Monday April 2, 2012, 6:30 pm
I think there are 2 quintessential quotes from this article. First ---
"We did not lose because the backlashers got so loud. We lost because the rest of us got so quiet. Too many of us treated Obama’s inauguration as some kind of finish line, when we should have seen it as just the starting line. Too many of us sat down at the very moment when we should have stood up."

This goes to show that it will only be by a team effort that things will change and that you have to begin the journey at the beginning, and it never ends ,you always travelling. A team leader cannot do everything themselves and it is folly to think otherwise. They need to guide, coach the team members to help them be the best possible and to encourage them to take the lead when practical to the full extent of their authority. But likewise, the leader needs to take the reins of power when the seas are choppy.

"Too many activists reverted to acting like either die-hard or disappointed fans of the president, not fighters for the people."
As Van Jones puts it, it is "the alchemy of political power and people power" that drive change. With Occupy for example, that is the people power. It is up to the people to keep pushing that power to stoke the political power to do it's work.


Charles O (209)
Monday April 2, 2012, 9:40 pm
At the Left Forum, Pace University, New York City, 17 Mar, BAR executive editor Glen Ford offered a scathing denunciation of Obama. . He shared the panel with Gloria Mattera, Margaret Kimberley (BAR), Suren Moodliar, John Nichols, and Victor Wallis. The discussion was titled, "The 2012 Elections: Lesser Evil or Left Alternative?"

Here's how Ford begins:

> Let me say from the very beginning that we at Black Agenda Report do not think that Barack Obama is the Lesser Evil. He is the more Effective Evil.

> He has been more effective in Evil-Doing than Bush in terms of protecting the citadels of corporate power, and advancing the imperial agenda. He has put both Wall Street and U.S. imperial power on new and more aggressive tracks -- just as he hired himself out to do.

> That was always Wall Street's expectation of Obama, and his promise to them. That's why they gave him far more money in 2008 than they gave John McCain. They were buying Obama futures on the electoral political market -- and they made out like bandits.

-- Glen Ford, "Why Barack Obama is the More Effective Evil", *Op-Ed News*, 27 Mar 2012

The commentary is worth reading as a reality-check. It strips away the illusions that cause many Obama groupies to throw away their progressive principles.

In the end, however, demonizing Obama is no better than idolizing him. Ultimately, Obama is irrelevant. Power lies with the 99%, not with the 1%. Change will come from ourselves and our neighbors, not from the king, dictator or president.
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