My posse’s on Wall Street
“I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.” Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt is not Barack Obama. FDR was born into American royalty, the cousin of a President. He had a chance to study the intimacies of power more closely than any President until George W. Bush, who wasn’t really so into studying.
In 1936, as FDR was running for reelection, he asked to be judged by the bankers, tycoons and right wing know nothings who resisted his remarkably pro-worker policies. And he won.
I’m going to suggest to you humbly that one does not become the first African American president by making enemies. President Obama’s nature is not one of opposition. Remember his first national speech? There are no red states and blue states. Audacity of Hope is filled with similar sentiments.
The thing you like about this man is that it seems as if he would like you.
The GOP realized wisely that someone so reasonable could only be defeated with extraordinary opposition. They had to delay all progress and blame the President for the crisis he inherited.
By late 2011, there were two dirty words in American politics: Bush and rich. Any attempt to blame any of the millions of jobs lost on the former President or his friends in the petro-military-financial complex were punishable by a hysterical Fox News commentator or viewer defaming ACORN.
As a result, we grew timid. The nation mostly sat stunned as the party behind the Bush tax breaks, the Iraq war, Medicare D threatened another global economic crisis rather than voting to pay the bills they helped run up.
The debt ceiling crisis left many wondering how this President could fight entrenched powers that needed to be called out.
Then came Occupy Wall Street.
Many Democrats resist identifying with the #Occupy movement because it was definitely not pro-Obama. I didn’t care whom they were for, honestly. What mattered was whom they were against: Those who are gaming the system to make playing with money far more important to our economy than work.
The massive tax breaks George W. Bush gave to investors and hedge fund managers gave the financial class the power to put the final straw on the back of the reforms FDR helped put in place so long ago.
The President, as his nature, didn’t focus on the opposition of the #ows movement. Instead, he seized the opportunity to remind America whom he is for: working people, people without health care, families that want to send their kids to college, kids who want to grow up in a world where they are free to love whomever they please. And it gave me a chance to point out that the Affordable Care Act includes the first new tax on the richest Americans in a generation.
Again, the people were fighting with the President because the President was fighting for them, making the case for a government that works for America.
From the President’s speech Friday February 17, 2012 at a Boeing factory in Washington state.
American workers — you guys, folks like Kathleen — you’re the most productive on Earth. You can compete with anybody. You will out-work anybody, as long as the level — as long as the playing field is level. You can compete with any worker, anywhere, any time — in China, in Europe, it does not matter. If we have a level playing field, America will always win because we’ve got the best workers. (Applause.)
It’s also because we’ve always believed in the power of innovation. Innovation requires basic research. Look at this plane. This plane was first designed virtually using the same technology that was developed by NASA. Government research helped to create this plane. We got — I was in there fooling around with those windows, where you press them and they dim on their own. (Laughter.) I kept on pressing the button, and — dimmed and got light — one touch with a finger. And the display is in the cockpit. They’re projected on the windshield so pilots don’t have to look down at their instruments; they can maintain their line of sight, even as they’re getting all these readings.
Now, some of the work — the most advanced work — was done by engineers down in Huntsville, Alabama, who used to work on the International Space Station. Their expertise, a lot of those ideas, came out of government research. We’ve got to support this kind of cutting-edge research. (Applause.) We need to maintain our innovative edge, so that jobs and industries take root right here in the United States, not someplace else. (Applause.)
So, Everett, if we want to build an economy that lasts, that is strong, that has a strong foundation, that helps families get into the middle class and stay in the middle class, we’ve got to do everything we can to strengthen American manufacturing. We’ve got to make sure we’re making it easier for companies like Boeing to create jobs here at home, and sell our products abroad. We’ve got to keep on investing in American-made energy, and we’ve got to keep training American workers. And, above all, we’ve got to renew the values that have always made this country great: hard work, fair play, and shared responsibility.
These are not Democratic values or Republican values. These are American values. (Applause.) They’ve seen us through some tough challenges, but we’ve always emerged stronger than before because of these values. And we’re going to come out stronger than before this time as well. And I know it because of the people who are here.
I thank the collective intelligence of the American people that the Occupy movement came along when it did to focus America on all the right things, including the two most important words in the English language: income equality.
And I bet $10,000 the President does, too.