The Fierce Urgency Of Now

Candidate Obama, 11/3/07:

I’m running for President because I believe we find ourselves in a moment of great challenge and great promise – a moment that comes along once in a generation.

It’s a moment of challenge because America is less safe and less respected than at any time in recent history. We are more dependent on oil from dictators and closer to the day when climate change becomes a climate catastrophe.

……….

George Bush said whatever the politics of the moment required in order to get elected in 2000. And those seven years of broken promises have left the American people with less trust in their leaders and less faith in their government than they have in years.

……….

Much has been said about the exchanges between Senator Clinton and myself this week. Now, understand that Hillary Clinton is a colleague and a friend. She’s also a skilled politician, and she’s run what Washington would call a “textbook” campaign. But the problem is the textbook itself.

It’s a textbook that’s all about winning elections, but says nothing about how to bring the country together to solve problems. As we saw in the debate last week, it encourages vague, calculated answers to suit the politics of the moment, instead of clear, consistent principles about how you would lead America. It teaches you that you can promise progress for everyday people while striking a bargain with the very special interests who crowd them out.

Now, Senator Clinton is certainly not the only one in Washington to play this game. It’s gone on for years, and I understand the reasoning behind it. It’s a game that usually gets politicians where they need to go. But I don’t believe it gets America where we need to go. When it comes to issues like war and diplomacy; energy and health care, I don’t believe we can bring about real change if all we do is change our positions based on what’s popular or politically convenient. If we are going to seize this moment of challenge and promise, the American people deserve more when they head to the voting booth in 2008.

I believe that our party has made the most difference in people’s lives and the life of this country when we have led not by polls but by principle; not by calculation but by conviction; when we’ve been able to summon the entire nation to a common purpose – a higher purpose. That’s how Roosevelt led us through war and lifted us from depression. It’s how Kennedy called on a new generation to ask what they could do for America. And I am running for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States because that’s the kind of leadership America needs right now.

I don’t pretend to be a perfect man, and I will not be a perfect President. But I am in this race because I believe that if we want to break from the failures of the past and finally make progress as a country, we can’t keep telling different people what we think they want to hear – we have to tell every American what they need to know. We have to be honest about the challenges we face.

……….

That’s the kind of leadership we need right now. That’s why I’m this race. Because I don’t think you should settle for a President who’s only there for you when it’s easy or convenient or popular – I think you deserve a President who’s willing to fight for you every hour of every day for the next four years.

That’s the change we can offer in 2008 – not change as a slogan, but change we can believe in.

One year from now, we have the chance to tell all those corporate lobbyists that the days of them setting the agenda in Washington are over. I have done more to take on lobbyists than any other candidate in this race – and I’ve won. I don’t take a dime of their money, and when I am President, they won’t find a job in my White House. Because real change isn’t another four years of defending lobbyists who don’t represent real Americans – it’s standing with working Americans who have seen their jobs disappear and their wages decline and their hope for the future slip further and further away. That’s the change we can offer in 2008.

……..

One year from now, we can stop sending hundreds of millions of dollars to dictators for their oil while we melt the polar ice caps in the bargain. I will raise our fuel standards, and put a cap on carbon emissions to reduce then 80% by 2050. We’ll tell polluters that they have to pay for their pollution, because they don’t own the skies, the American people own the skies. And we’ll use the money to invest in the clean, renewable fuels that are our future. That’s the change we can offer in 2008.

In this election, we have the chance to turn the page on the last six years of being told that the only way for Democrats to look tough on national security is to talk, and act, and vote like George Bush Republicans.

……….

  I am running because of what Dr. King called “the fierce urgency of now.” I am running because I do believe there’s such a thing as being too late. And that hour is almost here.

   I’m running because I don’t want to wake up one morning four years from now, and turn on one of those cable talk shows, and see that Washington is still stuck in the same food fight it’s been in for over a decade. I don’t want to see that more Americans lost their health care and fell into bankruptcy because we let the insurance industry spend millions to stop us for yet another year. I don’t want to see that.

   I don’t want to see that the oceans rose another few inches and the planet has reached the point of no return because we couldn’t find a way to stop ourselves from buying oil from dictators. I don’t want to see that.



   I don’t want to see that we risked more American lives in another misguided war because no one had the judgment to ask the tough questions before we sent our troops to fight. I don’t want to see that.

   I don’t want to see homeless veterans on the street. I don’t want to send another generation of children through corridors of shame. I don’t want this future for my daughters and I do not accept this future for America. It is time to turn the page.

   I run for the presidency for the same reason I drove halfway across the country over two decades ago to bring jobs to the jobless and hope to the hopeless on the streets of Chicago; for the same reason I stood up for justice and equality as a civil rights lawyer; for the same reason I’ve fought for Illinois families for over a decade. Because I will never forget that the only reason I am standing here today is because someone, somewhere stood up when it wasn’t popular, when it was risky; when it was hard. And because that someone stood up, a few more did. And then a few thousand. And then a few million. And together, they changed the world.

   That’s why I run in this election. I run to give my children and their children the same chances that someone, somewhere gave me. I run so that a year from today, there is a chance that the world will look at America differently, and that America will look at itself differently. And I run to keep the promise of the United States of America alive for all those who still hunger for opportunity and thirst for equality and long to believe again.

   That is the change that’s possible in this election. That is the moment I want to seize as President. And I ask you all to join me in this journey. Thank you.

So……what happened?

Where IS the The Fierce Urgency Of Now?

Apparently it is stalled in Congress as President Obama and the Dem ‘leadership’ attempt to form a coalition with Republicans.

The same republicans that are weaker than ever, that are one of THE most unpopular political parties in the history of the two party system, the same republicans that have literally spelled out in memos how they will stop all progress on everything the Dems and Obama have promised they will deliver.

And it is not just the Dems and Obama who are failing to heed the fierce urgency of now, it is the American people, and most notably, the blogosphere, who have failed to stand up and demand that the call of NOW be heard….

Because I will never forget that the only reason I am standing here today is because someone, somewhere stood up when it wasn’t popular, when it was risky; when it was hard. And because that someone stood up, a few more did. And then a few thousand. And then a few million. And together, they changed the world.

Contrary to his words on the campaign trail, words that belie his actions…


It’s a textbook that’s all about winning elections, but says nothing about how to bring the country together to solve problems. As we saw in the debate last week, it encourages vague, calculated answers to suit the politics of the moment, instead of clear, consistent principles about how you would lead America. It teaches you that you can promise progress for everyday people while striking a bargain with the very special interests who crowd them out.

President Obama has NOT fought for principle, he has not fought for much of anything.

And the American people have stopped listening to his oratory, they have modeled their actions after his.

They have not fought either, they have seen that Obama’s response to the fierce urgency of now is to compromise and concede and most of all…to NOT challenge those who obstruct and block the actions needed to heed the call of the fierce urgency of now.

And they have gone back to sleep.

Following Obama’s lead, the People and the blogosphere have become passive, have settled in to wait, have lost faith and the fire that drove the candidacy of Obama. many of them have just plain given up as the vision of Change that was promised has resulted in EXACTLY what now President Obama decried in that speech and in his candidacy as a whole.

Business as usual continues in Washington.

The status quo has not changed in Washington, or in the rest of the country.

The lobbyists still write the laws and the Party of No is allowed to hold the country and a world about to drown hostage.

Not because they are powerful, but because the Dems and most notably President Obama are weak. They, like so many Dems before them, have been buffaloed by the Republicans into inaction. They are allowing an unpopular and despised minority lead them around by the nose, afaraifd to act out of fear of ……what?

Candidate Obama inspired America. We were all fired up and ready to go.

But as nearly a year has passed and the weak Republicans are STILL winning the battles that require a fierce urgency, we are left with one question.

Go where?

Where are we being lead?

What’s The Plan?

Or is it WE who need to lead?

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Instead of waiting for a president whose mouth evidently wrote checks that his actions can’t cash?

Perhaps, just perhaps, President Obama doesn;t need passive supporters who wait for him to act.

Perhaps he needs active citizens to lead him back to the words and fire of that speech, and all his other inspirational, but unfulfilled oratory.

And if it is us who need to lead…how do we do that?

What tools do we have, what coalitions can we form, what strategies and tactics can we employ?

All we can say for now is that the “strategy” of the STFU Brigade is NOT working.So we have two questions:

What is Obama’s plan?

And more importantly….what is OUR plan?

Whether you think Obama is the best thing since sliced bread or not, waiting for him does not seem to be working.

So let us frame the current situation this way, being passive and waiting does not seem to be working. How can we, both Obama supporters and Obama critics, come together to make a difference?

46 comments

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  1. Photobucket

    • TomP on January 5, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    winning the primaries.  And we will hear it again in 2011-12.    

    President Obama is who he is and always has been: a mainstream Democrat wedded to incremental change and not upsetting power relationships who uses revolutionary rhetoic of change.  

  2. … that we are underlings

    What is Obama’s plan?  And more importantly….what is OUR plan?  Whether you think Obama is the best thing since sliced bread or not, waiting for him does not seem to be working.

    So let us frame the current situation this way, being passive and waiting does not seem to be working. How can we, both Obama supporters and Obama critics, come together to make a difference?

    I’ve noticed a subtle shift in the discussion threads in the past 2 weeks.  Superficially, they look like same old same old.  But there is a heightened sense of urgency.

    We collectively are not crying out for what our politicians should do.  We are not nestled in the framework of “progressive leaders should …”  The anger is coupled with an appeal to action.

    Great work, BuhdyDharma!

    The Democratic Party has rotted our brains like cheap rotgut.  Mine included.  Hangovers are unpleasant, and there are two cures.  One can either kill the pain with another bottle, or go through the pain and see anew.

    • Edger on January 5, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    Fierce urgency!

    I’m running for President because I believe I find myself in a moment of great challenge and great promise – a moment that comes along once in a generation.

    I have a chance to be president!

    Have I become too cynical?

  3. One of things about HCR is that ad hoc alliances formed in the blogosphere after the debate was underway.

    For example, couple of other big battles on the horizon are EFCA and immigration….

    Buhdy, can you get a couple of union activists and maybe a couple of Latino immigration activists to write occasional guest essays here?  Those are two big, organized blocs and we would benefit from hearing from them….

  4. of yesterday!!!

    I should revisit the Dem Party platform…

    • TMC on January 6, 2010 at 12:25 am

    Preamble  

    We come together at a defining moment in the history of our nation – the nation that led the 20

    th

    century, built a thriving middle class, defeated fascism and communism, and provided bountiful opportunity to many. We Democrats have a special commitment to this promise of America. We believe that every American, whatever their background or station in life, should have the chance to get a good education, to work at a good job with good wages, to raise and provide for a family, to live in safe surroundings, and to retire with dignity and security.  We believe that quality and affordable health care is a basic right.  We believe that each succeeding generation should have the opportunity, through hard work, service and sacrifice, to enjoy a brighter future than the last.   But today, we are at a crossroads. As we meet, we are in the sixth year of a two-front war. Our economy is struggling. Our planet is in peril.   A great nation now demands that its leaders abandon the politics of partisan division and find creative solutions to promote the common good. A people that prizes candor, accountability, and fairness insists that a government of the people must level with them and champion the interests of all American families.  A land of historic resourcefulness has lost its patience with elected officials who have failed to lead.

    It is time for a change. We can do better.  And so, Democrats – through the most open platform process in history – are reaching out today to Republicans, Independents, and all Americans who hunger for a new direction a reason to hope. Today, at a defining moment in our history, the Democratic Party resolves to renew America’s promise.   Over the past eight years, our nation’s leaders have failed us.  Sometimes they invited calamity, rushing us into an ill-considered war in Iraq. But other times, when calamity arrived in the form of hurricanes or financial storms, they sat back, doing too little too late, and too poorly. The list of failures of this Administration is historic.   The American Dream is at risk.  Incomes are down and foreclosures are up.  Millions of our fellow citizens have no health insurance while families working longer hours are pressed for time to care for their children and aging parents.  Gas and home heating costs are squeezing seniors and working families alike.  We are less secure and less respected in the world.  After September 11, we could have built the foundation for a new American century, but instead we instigated an unnecessary war in Iraq before finishing a necessary war in Afghanistan. Careless policies, inept stewardship and the broken politics of this Administration have taken their toll on our economy, our security and our reputation.

    But even worse than the conditions we find ourselves in are the false promises that brought us here. The Republican leadership said they would keep us safe, but they overextended our military and failed to respond to new challenges. They said they would be compassionate conservatives, but they failed to rescue our citizens from the rooftops of New Orleans, neglected our veterans, and denied health insurance to children. They promised fiscal responsibility but instead gave tax cuts to the wealthy few and squandered almost a trillion dollars in Iraq. They promised reform but allowed the oil companies to write our energy agenda and the credit card companies to write the bankruptcy rules.   These are not just policy failures. They are failures of a broken politics a politics that rewards selfinterest over the common interest and the short-term over the long-term, that puts our government at the service of the powerful. A politics that creates a state-of-the-art system for doling out favors and shuts out the voice of the American people.   So, we come together not only to replace this President and his party and not only to offer policies that will undo the damage they have wrought.  Today, we pledge a return to core moral principles like stewardship, service to others, personal responsibility, shared sacrifice and a fair shot for all values that emanate from the integrity and optimism of our Founders and generations of Americans since. Today, we Democrats offer leaders –  from the White House to the State House – worthy of this country’s trust.   We will start by renewing the American Dream for a new era – with the same new hope and new ideas that propelled Franklin Delano Roosevelt towards the New Deal and John F. Kennedy to the New Frontier. We will provide immediate relief to working people who have lost their jobs, families who are in danger of losing their homes, and those who  – no matter how hard they work – are seeing prices go up more than their income.  We will invest in America again in worldclass public education, in our infrastructure, and in green technology so that our economy can generate the good, highpaying jobs of the future.  We will end the outrage of unaffordable, unavailable health care, protect Social Security, and help Americans save for retirement. And we will harness American ingenuity to free this nation from the tyranny of oil.  

    The Democratic Party believes that there is no more important priority than renewing American leadership on the world stage. This will require diplomatic skill as capable as our military might.  Instead of refusing to confront our most pressing threats, we will use all elements of American power to keep us safe, prosperous, and free. Instead of alienating our nation from the world, we will enable America once again to lead.  For decades, Americans have been told to act for ourselves, by ourselves, on our own. Democrats reject this recipe for division and failure. Today, we commit to renewing our American community by recognizing that solutions to our greatest challenges can only be rooted in common ground and the strength of our civic life. The American people do not want government to solve all our problems; we know that personal responsibility, character, imagination, diligence, hard work and faith ultimately determine individual achievement.  But we also know that at every turning point in our nation’s history, we have demonstrated our love of country by uniting to overcome our challenges-whether ending slavery, fighting two world wars for the cause of freedom or sending a man to the moon. Today, America must unite again to help our most vulnerable residents get back on their feet and to restore the vitality of both urban centers and family farms because the success of each depends on the success of the other. And America must challenge us again to serve our country and to meet our responsibilities whether in our families or local governments; our civic organizations or places of worship.   Americans have been promised change before. And too often we have been disappointed. We believe we must change not just our policies, but our politics as well. We cannot keep doing the same things and expect to get different results. That is why today we come together not only to prevent a third Bush term. Today, we pledge to renew American democracy by promoting the use of new technologies to make it easier for Americans to participate in their government. We will shine a light on government spending and Washington lobbying so that every American is empowered to be a watchdog and a whistle blower. We are the party of inclusion and respect differences of perspective and belief. And so, even when we disagree, we will work together to move this country forward. There can be no Republican or Democratic ideas, only policies that are smart and right and fair and good for America and those that aren’t. We will form a government as decent, candid, purposeful and compassionate as the American people themselves.   This is the essence of what it means to be a patriot: not only to declare our love of this nation, but to show it -by our deeds, our priorities, and the commitments we keep.  

    • banger on January 6, 2010 at 1:30 am

    Our job is not to form coalitions with people who deliberately delude themselves so they don’t have to face unpleasant truths. Our job is to keep the fire going and explain the truth about our cultural, political and economic system.

    If we build a coalition it is with those that get the short end of the stick, i.e, the working class in this country who are regularly derided by progressives as ignorant fools because they are manipulated by professionals who are paid princely prices for misleading the masses. See the difference? One group deliberately averts it’s eyes the other poorer group has little or no capacity for analyzing anything and is manipulated through using magic (essentially symbols and manipulating the unconscious in a highly expert and scientific way).

    Most progressives in the Democratic Party are deluding themselves by not getting what is going on at all. We live in an imperial and soon to become feudal system where the oligarchs can do anything they fucking want to do. They create fiction and call it real. The trillions of dollars leaking out of this country go where exactly? Follow money and you follow the reality of the situation. More clearly, how can I or many of us here who believe we are in the middle of a covert operation ally ourselves with people who think we still live in a Republic of laws? Now compassion is in order, mind you. It is awful and horrible to have my view and the views of people like Edger and Inky particularly. This isn’t easy to face.

  5. going to run on in 2016?  What is Candidate Obama in 2012 going to run on?

    Candidate Obama ran on “Change we can believe in.”  Nobody but perhaps the most die-hard Obamamaniac is going to hear that again without laughing.

    How many die-hard Obamamaniacs are going to exist in 2012.  How many are in 2016 going to hear someone else say that and laugh?  

    Who is going to believe the Fierce Urgency of Mañana?

    This rhetoric could have been reused had it been serious.  It is not serious.  Oh yes, there’s change — everything changes.  But, when we get to 2012 .. when we get to 2016 .. will it have been change we can believe in?  We are not on track to do that.

    If we want these things back we have to march on Washington .. not just for a day or an hour .. but weeks and months.  Not in the thousands but in the millions.  We have to make it impossible to ignore.  It is Washington that is clueless, Washington that is insulated, Washington that refuses to hear the demands of the American People.

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