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The re-election of President Obama has opened a door for believers who bought into the President’s original message of hope and change when he was elected in 2008.
Much of Obama’s support then was a direct result of his vote against the Iraq War. Democrats chose Senator Obama over Senator Clinton for many reasons, but the “Iraq War vote” was an important one that has been wrongly dismissed – it’s what tens of millions with many other differences were agreeing about.
The Iraq War vote was a symbolic difference between Ms. Clinton and Mr. Obama, but with so few opportunities to truly understand our candidates in modern Presidential elections, it became a significant statistic for a large demographic of US voters who have been dismissed and reduced by mainstream media and the two major parties for more than a decade.
There is an anti-war electorate, and it’s a sleeping dragon in the USA.
Millions came out on February 15, 2003, in opposition to George W. Bush’s plans for War on Iraq. The vast majority of these then came out for Barack Obama five years later seeking an anti-war candidate, only to be disappointed by the last four years of capitulation, centrism and even rightist approaches to foreign policy by the President.
Now Obama has been re-elected by the exact same margin that George W. Bush was and the political obligation for standing up for the anti-war and progressive electorate that helped put and keep him in the White House must be addressed.
Here are five simple yet powerful moves Obama can and should make right now – while the political capital exists and the GOP is reeling from the smack in the face of the demographic and ideological realities of the election.
1. Close Guantanamo Bay Prison
2. End the Drone attacks on sovereign Pakistan and elsewhere.
3. Take a strong, open and progressive stand to approach Iran intellectually through discourse rather than via military options.
4. Create a Department of Peace, as first proposed by Representative Dennis Kucinich: taking just .001% of the defense/military budget to finance the creation of a cabinet position dedicated to peaceful outcomes to conflict. Appoint Mr. Kucinich as the first Secretary of Peace in U.S. history.
5. Pardon and Release Leonard Peltier – do it now ,Mr. Obama, at the beginning, rather than at the end of your term. Take a stand for prison reform.
I will not defend these points here, because I’m proposing them for purpose of discussion. Please read, consider, forward and comment.
Rather, I defend the idea that there would be very little or even NO political cost for taking these steps and that the benefits politically, socially and culturally would be immense.
Nate Silver has already pointed out that Obama’s margin of victory in the popular vote is almost exactly the same as Bush’s over Kerry in 2004.
Bush claimed a mandate and bombed and obliterated Fallujah! The triumphalism of the Republicans in 2004 was intensely exaggerated by FOX and the rest of television media. This is what contributed to the views of an ever-shrinking minority being allowed to dominate policy.
This is Obama’s chance to start the clean-break from the policies of Bush/Cheney and in particular the Foreign Policy, which was dominated by aggression, war and violations of every major peace treaty signed in the 21st Century: The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, The Geneva Peace Accords, The Warsaw Accords – Putin said, on the morning that Shock and Awe began in Baghdad, “It violates the U.N. Charter.”
Millions of Americans were the ones in Shock and Awe.
If Obama stood up for peace in the 21st century, tens of millions of voters and hundreds of representatives at all levels of government would support him.
It would also set a tone for his ability to work on topics which Republicans have rigidly blocked for the past four years. Obama could put the GOP way back on its heels.
Progressives would rise to support Obama for being a strong leader and taking steps to better our national character. The Democrats would gain millions who have felt left out by the centrism of the party over the last 20 years.
That is the point of this post: to create a huge groundswell of public support for these five ideas as a part of a National consciousness. That we, the 21st Century Americans, the Digital Generation, the new Americans, stand for a more peaceful relationship with the world.
It’d be easy to sell. The race between Obama and Romney was only close because so many millions did not participate. Many who did vote for Obama before left in disgust, but weren’t willing to cast a vote for the Republicans who do not share their values. These are the one Obama would attract. People longing to believe again.
Less than half the electorate votes. Obama could make huge strides among the disenchanted with principled action.
These are important stands for getting back our dignity as a nation. I firmly believe they would have very little political cost.
One way to measure if I am right is by memes, so if you’ve read this far and agree, I am asking all producers and hype-masters and friends and like-minded thinkers to tweet these five points and use the hashtags #Peace and #FreeLeonardPeltierNOW respectively as means of creating a measure of support.
Please do blog and produce work that promotes these ideals of peace that we all share.
Let’s push this country back on track by letting President Obama know he can be far more progressive without concern for political liability.
Start talking peace and Free Leonard Peltier Immediately – it’s the right thing to do.