President Obams’s second-term agenda

I read Time magazine’s Person of the Year article on President Obama. The point of the article was that the election and re-election of an African-American, and the voting coalition that supported him, shows how the United States is changing. I think that is very true—in some ways. In other ways, Barack Obama has changed very little.

Obama told Time that his immediate second-term agenda will be immigration reform, and a long-term plan to reduce the federal budget deficit. Those would both be important positive accomplishments. Yet neither would change the distribution of economic and political power, nor bring accountability to Wall Street banks, secret intelligence agencies or any other abusers of corporate or governmental power.

It is a mistake to look to an individual statesman to change things by himself. Things would not be better if the White House were occupied by Hillary Clinton, John McCain or Mitt Romney. Change comes about when, as in the 1930s or 1960s, there are strong mass movements outside the political parties demanding change.


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