While I have been absent from this blog, caring for Susie, politics in America has taken an interesting turn. Obama has now staked out three big issues as his agenda for the second term: climate change, immigration reform, and gun control. One of these -- climate change -- is a matter of the very greatest importance on which the United States by itself can have some effect, but not an enormous effect. The other two issues are relatively minor in comparison with economic recovery and the rampant growth of inequality in America, but they are both important, and in each case there is some reason to hope for positive legislative steps.
Far and away the most important political news is the decision by the Obama campaign machine to turn over its enormous database to a new lobbying organization, Organizing for America. As I have said repeatedly on this blog, the only real prospect for any sort of progressive movement in this country is the mobilization of the scores of millions of people who are already persuaded of some form of progressive politics. Let us be clear. This has nothing to do with reversing the sixty year old imperial thrust of U. S. foreign policy, nor does it have anything to do with advancing the prospects for the emergence of socialism from the decaying carcass of capitalism [I love saying things like that]. But we on the left have been playing defense for so long that it feels good even to think about winning a few small victories.
Those of you who cannot be bothered trying to make the world just a little bit better can go on saying "A pox on both your houses." I have several times explained why I choose not to follow that course. Bad as things are in this country -- and they really are very, very bad in a variety of ways -- there is a serious possibility that they will get a very great deal worse unless we can stop those who are trying to complete the transformation of America into a gated banana republic.
I think there are reasons for hope. But even if we are successful beyond our wildest dreams, this country will still be nothing like what I would want it to be. For example, even if the proponents of a single payer health care system had won the day in Obama's first term -- and it is clear that there was never the slightest chance of that happening -- we would still only have managed to put in place an expensive variant of the health care system that is routine in Europe and elsewhere. That tells you a great deal about how limited our real options are.