The Truth -- Can You Handle the Truth?

ImageThis is an appeal to finish the journey we started in 2008. This is an article that speaks to our obligations as responsible citizens concerned about our socio-economic wellbeing . As we enter the 2010 Political Season, I am reminded of the line from the 1992 movie, A Few Good Men --

Kaffee: I want the truth!
Col. Jessep: [shouts] You can't handle the truth!

A recent opinion column by Eugene Robinson in the Washington Post presents what I view as a current view of the truth:
"The nation demands the impossible: quick, painless solutions to long-term, structural problems. While they're running for office, politicians of both parties encourage this kind of magical thinking. When they get into office, they're forced to try to explain that things aren't quite so simple -- that restructuring our economy, renewing the nation's increasingly rickety infrastructure, reforming an unsustainable system of entitlements, redefining America's position in the world and all the other massive challenges that face the country are going to require years of effort. But the American people don't want to hear any of this. They want somebody to make it all better. Now.

"The richest Americans need to pay higher taxes -- not because they're bad people who deserve to be punished but because they earn a much bigger share of the nation's income and hold a bigger share of its overall wealth. If they don't pay more, there won't be enough revenue to maintain, much less improve, the kind of infrastructure that fosters economic growth. Think of what the interstate highway system has meant to this country. Now imagine trying to build it today.

"Fixing Social Security for future generations, working steadily to improve the schools, charting a reasonable path on immigration -- none of this is what the American people want to hear. They're in the market for quick and easy solutions that won't hurt a bit. It's easy to blame politicians for selling a bunch of snake oil. But the truth is that all they're doing is offering what the public wants to buy."

So, what are we going to do with this version of the truth? Most of our iZania community voted to help elect President Obama AND the congressional representatives who help with his agenda. This mid-term election is unique in that every member of the U.S. House of Representatives is up for re-election, along with 1/3 of the Senate. This means that every one of us is affected by the outcomes in the House races, and the Democratic majority is at stake in the Senate.

How Are You Going to Handle the Truth?

Whatever you think about specific issues, here is what President Obama has accomplished:

Facing unified Republican opposition, President Obama found himself with a blessing and a curse. He had dominant majorities in each house of congress (the blessing), and he was cursed with the "big tent" phenomenon that represents the Democratic Party. There was no unity among Democratic Progressives, Union Supporters, Universal Health Advocates, End the Wars Advocates, and Blue Dog Democrats. Forging a consensus within the Democratic Party was his biggest challenge.

The result is that everything he accomplished in his first two years was watered down -- the Stimulus Bill was too small and did not create enough jobs; the Auto Industry bailout gutted the union gains; the Healthcare Bill had no Public Option and limited impact on costs; the War Strategy in Iraq was labeled an extension of Bush; and the War Strategy in Afghanistan labeled a giveaway to our enemies with a July 2011 withdrawal forecast; the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act didn't help enough Black families save their homes; and Wall Street reform is little more than a slap on the wrist while the rich get richer. That he got these bills through the logjam at all with limited results is a testament to compromise within the Democratic Party. He can point to limited success on all major initiatives. Some of his agenda has been delayed, but he has not suffered one defeat.

President Obama said on Tuesday in Milwaukee, "I am going to keep fighting every single day, every single hour, every single minute, to turn this economy around and put people back to work and renew the American Dream, not just for your family, not just for all our families, but for future generations.I am going to keep fighting every single day, every single hour, every single minute, to turn this economy around and put people back to work and renew the American Dream, not just for your family, not just for all our families, but for future generations."

So, what does this upcoming election mean for all of us? It means that we have two clear choices:
  1. Support your Democratic representatives to give President Obama the support he needs to continue his agenda.
  2. Allow the Republican opposition to destroy his presidency if they gain a majority in either house of congress.
I believe we are at a critical point in the influence African American voters have on the state of national politics. A large African American turnout in support of the Obama agenda will be the difference between winning and losing. Our vote is significant, but only if we go to the polls. This is a life or death situation for the historic importance of the Obama presidency. Martin Luther King Jr. said this of every one of us, "A man who won't die for something is not fit to live."

He said this about political leaders, "A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus." President Obama is doing all he can to mold a consensus that sets a new direction for our nation. He may not have delivered all that you wanted, but will we act like spoiled brats, as described by Eugene Robinson, or join the President in fighting for better outcomes?

Sitting on the sidelines for this election is not an option. I encourage every one of us stand up and be counted. Make sure that you and everyone you influence is registered and cast their vote in November. That's how you handle the truth.


Roger Madison
CEO, iZania