Recently, President Obama, who has tactfully remained silent as the Democratic primaries have progressed, decided to voice a note of caution. On Friday of last week, he said he felt compelled to weigh in because he didn’t think some of the loudest and most strident voices, particularly on social media, were “representative” of most folks in the party.
He said, “The average American doesn’t think we have to completely tear down the system and remake it.”
“Even as we push the envelope and we are bold in our vision, we also have to be rooted in reality,” he said, indicating that some independents and moderate Republicans may be put off by certain “left-leaning twitter feeds.”
This may come as a shock, but, for the record, I agree with President Obama. I, too, want to be “rooted in reality.”
But what exactly does that phrase mean? Whose reality was he talking about?
Maybe he was talking about the millions of millennials currently drowning in student debt—those poor suckers who must pay $60,000 to $150,000 for an education that you used to be able to shuck out a few thousand bucks a semester at a decent state school to cover? Of course, most Western countries are far more generous with higher education funding and enrollment costs. The list of developed nations that offer free or heavily subsidized university enrollment should stand as an embarrassment to our untaxed wealth hoarders and an indictment from our struggling middle class. But since no ‘moderate’ Democrat or Republican has thought to offer a plan to adjust the cost or help out these students, I suspect that’s not the ‘reality’ he’s indicating.
Perhaps he was referring to the people who somehow manage to fall through the cracks of Obamacare and must suffer silently without healthcare and dental care for months and years at a time—or bankrupt themselves to pay for healthcare that every other developed nation on earth funds as a matter of right? That’s unlikely as well, since, conventional wisdom among our donor class suggests that only a far left candidate would be interested in a plan that would duplicate what every other industrialized nation on earth offers: comprehensive coverage to everyone, young or old, healthy or infirm, regardless of their ability to pay insurance premiums. In fact, most other national plans rightfully exclude the insurance middle man whose sole purpose seems to be to extract profit from human suffering.
Possibly he was talking about our current ‘Hoovervilles’ of homeless individuals near Oakland, San Francisco or Los Angeles—tent cities whose populations dwarf many rural municipalities? But with no federal legal framework for rent control, housing ridiculously priced, and minimum wage hikes politically unacceptable to ‘moderates,’ those ‘Hoovervilles’ are just the cost of living in America, I guess.
Speaking of the West Coast, could he possibly be talking about those individuals whose electricity was turned off by PG&E recently to avoid sparking fires because their corporate board thought it was wiser to pursue profit over decent maintenance plans for the utility? I don’t think that’s likely since forcing a private utility to actually maintain the public works for which they are getting paid would smack of Socialism. Definitely that’s not our moderate Obama’s reality.
Then again, he might be talking to the hundreds of home owners whose property has been confiscated to make way for pipelines whose existence threatens our survival as a species? Unless, of course, you belong to those sage individuals who still deny climate change. Is that what he means by ‘rooted in reality?’ Perhaps, since so many moderate Democrats and independents enjoy campaign contributions from energy behemoths like Dominion Power, who hope to profit from those very pipelines –like our own blue Virginia Governor, our Virginia Attorney General, and our Virginia House Speaker Elect.
In fact, I find it difficult to understand what ‘reality’ Obama is describing. Unless, he, too, is only thinking narrowly, and speaking to a precious audience of wealthy individuals and donors that might not understand the risible reality so many of his ‘base’ are now suffering? Is that the case? Is he warning us against things like taxing the rich, the Green New Deal and Medicare for All, which is wildly popular among ALL Democrats, and reasonably popular across all parties (with majority positive ratings) because he doesn’t understand or care about what everyone I know experiences every single day? He’s made it clear from his speech that Lefties should not mention the continuing daily deaths from lack of healthcare, the ongoing bankruptcies, suicides and the lost opportunities for education and the extermination of our environment because of ill-conceived plans like fracking natural gas pipelines. Does he suppose that talking about these problems, and advocating viable solutions means ‘tearing down the system’? If so, is the alternative, a stoic, and frankly dumbed down silence?
Apparently, to call such individuals out, to reject those who scheme to rip off underprivileged people or poison our environment with incredibly dysfunctional ideas is, at best, in poor taste. At worst, a radical call to ‘tear down a system.’ Yet, each ‘Lefty’ candidate is working well within the parameters of the existing system. In fact, I suspect the reason Obama decided to put his thumb on the primary scales is precisely because they are doing this so well. So here comes our ‘hope’ hero cautioning respectful silence from the left, please. Maybe he’s got a clever plan? But I don’t think so. His message appears simple: let the wealthy donor class maintain their dark blinders. Don’t bother them with your problems—they’re really not interested. His words are like a seductive whisper….speak no evil to them and you will possibly beat Trump, the wicked one … don’t make the bankers nervous, keep the cash flowing…and allow me to explain your reality to you.
I must say, it is refreshing to hear complete sentences from a President again, but I think I’d rather allow one of those ‘Lefties’ the last word. In the end, they use their language with more discernment, and to a much greater effect.
“When I talk about health care being a human right and ending the embarrassment of America being the only major country on earth that does not guarantee health care for every man, woman and child, that’s not tearing down the system,” Bernie Sanders said, “That’s doing what we should have done 30 years ago.”
To my ears, that sounds remarkably real.
By Jack Johnson