It’s a Hostage Situation: President Obama’s State of the Union Address

Last night President Obama gave his annual State of the Union address where he talked a lot about bringing jobs back, and our manufacturing base, and a green jobs program, and taxing the rich.

It all sounds nice and rosey. And I will put aside a fact check on a number of his statements since surely others will comb over it word for word. What I want to bring up is this: President Obama has been in office for three years and he has done a lot to undermine what he said last night. From healthcare reform to financial reform to free trade agreements to obstructing climate talks at Copenhagen to much, much more. The question that should be on everyone’s mind is: Why now?

If you translate what was really being said this is what you get:

After three years of continued and escalated war, empire, obstruction of climate justice, bailing out Wall Street, and bailing on Main Street President Obama announced that his re-election strategy is to hold progress hostage.

With subtlety the President said he would give what we should have received long ago—though you can rest assured that things aren’t what they seem and that the devil is in the details—but only if he is re-elected. He is, as he did in 2008, holding our welfare (or our “hope” for “change we can believe in”) hostage.

Despite this we need to recognize that voting is the least of our struggles. We should not let ourselves be held hostage in order to get things done, nor should we rely on the graciousness of a politicians heart. If we want progress we need to organize our communities and workplaces, and get prepared to carry out direct action so as to pressure Obama and other politicians (and businesses) to do the right thing and to stop hooking for the Lords of Capital. Vote if you want to, or don’t vote. What matters most is that you organize, agitate, and get active to define and build a better world.

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