(NNPA)—“Not again. The line must be drawn here! This far and no further.” words of Captain Picard in “Star Trek: First Contact.”
As the November midterm elections approach I find myself thinking about what is at stake. Any reader of my commentaries knows that I have been quite critical of President Obama and the Democratic majority in Congress for their zigzag politics and their failure to pursue a dynamic, pro-working people agenda. I stand by my criticisms.
That said, the political right, using the fear and uncertainty that afflicts many White Americans, is attempting to roll back the clock. It is actually amazing how quickly so many people forget the days of George W. Bush and how his policies are directly responsible for putting this country into the hole that it currently finds itself. In that sense I remembered the words from one of my favorite science fiction films, “Star Trek: First Contact,” quoted above. What is at stake is actually not so much that the Democrats have not fully delivered on what most of us have wanted, but that there are forces at play that wish to set us back.
The politics of the political right, and especially the right-wing populist such as Sarah Palin, attempt to portray President Obama and the Democrats as somehow the proponents of big government and taking control out of the hands of the people. What is important is to recognize that under the Bush administration, for instance, we witnessed a weakening of our civil liberties, an open door to corporate America in the media, and being lied into the Iraq invasion. Talk about taking control out of the hands of the people! We were played like stings on a violin.
But the code that we are hearing, such as “taking America back” is really not so much about the policies of the Democrats, as such, but more about the fact that there is a Black person in the White House and that the demographics of the USA are changing dramatically. It is the combination of these two facts that has many White Americans unhinged as they attempt to get their bearings. And, of course, this takes place in the context of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, thereby putting even more pressure on everyone.
So, what is at stake? You do not have to think too much about this. It is whether we will be forced into the right-wing fantasy (and our nightmare) of the 1950s, with further setbacks in our struggle for justice.
But that is not enough. We cannot simply say that we do not wish to go back. We have to hold the feet of President Obama and the Democrats to the fire. Truth be told, too few of us have been willing to do that. We wanted change; we wanted a dramatic transformation; but all we did was vote for it and then waited for results. That is simply not enough. The other side, the side that wants to turn the clock back, was shaken to their core by the November 2008 election and they have been determined ever since to frustrate anything that even smells of progress. If we are not prepared to fight, then we will have to expect to lose.
So, on Nov. 2 we have to make sure that the forces of ignorance and fear do not gain the advantage…this far and no further, as the good captain suggested.
(Bill Fletcher Jr. is a senior scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum, and the co-author of “Solidarity Divided.”)