The President had quite the impressive schedule today – four fund-raisers in the North East, according to Keith Koffler.
Via RCP, here’s Obama speaking at a fund-raiser at one of his favorite types of venues; a college in Vermont:
“You know, each of us is only here because somebody somewhere felt responsibility, yes to their families, but also to their fellow citizens. Also to our country’s future. That’s the American story. The American story is not just about what we do on our own. Yes, we’re rugged individualists, we expect personally responsibility and everybody out there has got to work hard and carry their weight,” President Obama said at a fundraiser with college students at the University of Vermont.
“We also have always understood that we wouldn’t win the race for new jobs and businesses, and middle class security if we were just applying some ‘you’re on your own economics,’” Obama said.
“It’s been tried in our history and it hasn’t worked,” Obama said. “It didn’t work when we tried it in the decade before the Great Depression. It didn’t work when we tried it in the last decade. We just tried this. What they’re peddling has been tried — it did not work!”
Back in 2008, I directed attention to this December 1995 Chicago Reader interview of then candidate for IL State Senate, Barack Obama. I found his attack on individualism to be quite alarming. Sadly, when you read his words from 1995 and compare them to what he is saying, today, you find that his collectivist philosophy has remained remarkably consistent over the years.
“In America,” Obama says, “we have this strong bias toward individual action. You know, we idolize the John Wayne hero who comes in to correct things with both guns blazing. But individual actions, individual dreams, are not sufficient. We must unite in collective action, build collective institutions and organizations.”
Out of appreciation for the fact the most Americans have this “bias” for rugged individualism, Obama still pays lip service to it, today, to even left-wing college crowds. But the song remains the same - individual actions are not sufficient.
Incidentally, in 1995, the Community organizer in him was interested in politicizing more black churches:
In an interview after the class, Obama again spoke of the need to organize and mobilize the economic power and moral fervor of black churches. He also argued that as a state senator he might help bring this about faster than as a community organizer or civil rights lawyer.
His opinion of “the bitter clingers” has remained the same:
“The right wing, the Christian right, has done a good job of building these organizations of accountability, much better than the left or progressive forces have. But it’s always easier to organize around intolerance, narrow-mindedness, and false nostalgia. And they also have hijacked the higher moral ground with this language of family values and moral responsibility.
There was much speculation in 2008 over whether or not, Obama went to Louis Farrakhan’s Million Man March earlier that year.. He did, of course.
Obama took time off from attending campaign coffees to attend October’s Million Man March in Washington, D.C. His experiences there only reinforced his reasons for jumping into politics.
“What I saw was a powerful demonstration of an impulse and need for African-American men to come together to recognize each other and affirm our rightful place in the society,” he said. “There was a profound sense that African-American men were ready to make a commitment to bring about change in our communities and lives.
“But what was lacking among march organizers was a positive agenda, a coherent agenda for change. Without this agenda a lot of this energy is going to dissipate. Just as holding hands and singing ‘We shall overcome’ is not going to do it, exhorting youth to have pride in their race, give up drugs and crime, is not going to do it if we can’t find jobs and futures for the 50 percent of black youth who are unemployed, underemployed, and full of bitterness and rage.
“Exhortations are not enough, nor are the notions that we can create a black economy within America that is hermetically sealed from the rest of the economy and seriously tackle the major issues confronting us,” Obama said.
He did the same thing then that he continues to do today – demonize the “mean, cruel” Republicans:
We must deal with the forces that are depressing wages, lopping off people’s benefits right and left, and creating an earnings gap between CEOs and the lowest-paid worker that has risen in the last 20 years from a ratio of 10 to 1 to one of better than 100 to 1.
“This doesn’t suggest that the need to look inward emphasized by the march isn’t important, and that these African-American tribal affinities aren’t legitimate. These are mean, cruel times, exemplified by a ‘lock ‘em up, take no prisoners’ mentality that dominates the Republican-led Congress. Historically, African-Americans have turned inward and towards black nationalism whenever they have a sense, as we do now, that the mainstream has rebuffed us, and that white Americans couldn’t care less about the profound problems African-Americans are facing.”
A Community Organizer’s job isn’t to unite and solve problems, it is to divide and conquer.