Change Comes From Below, Not From Above

by Ben Cohen

Michael Tomasky reminds liberals that while Obama may have progressive tendencies, America is still a deeply conservative country, and change will only come from a lot of hard work from below:

Liberals in my country tend to have a deeply romantic view of political

movements. When we think of the civil rights movement, we think of the

highlights, the stirring moments. Memory tricks us, and the media,

which speak in such shorthand, help perpetuate the trick. So we tend to

think that Rosa Parks sat on a bus, Martin Luther King gave some great

speeches, decent Americans recoiled at racist violence on the nightly

news, and boom, change happened. The reality was that nine long years

passed from Parks’s act of civil disobedience until Lyndon Johnson

signed the civil rights bill – nine years of often mundane and

inglorious work. And even then, the civil rights bill didn’t really fix

the problem of African Americans being denied the vote, so Congress had

to go back the next year and pass the voting rights act.

Ditto with Franklin Roosevelt, to whom Obama is often unflatteringly

compared…… Roosevelt made lots of mistakes – the bill he’d intended as the

landmark legislation of his first year, the national industrial

recovery act, was an abysmal failure, eventually struck down as

unconstitutional by the supreme court.

The political realities in America make real change very difficult. The spectacular implosion of the Right may be completely ridiculous, but its power to spread lies and disinformation has had a devastating effect on Obama’s ability to move quickly. He may want to bring real change to America, but Fox News, Max Baucas and Rush Limbaugh represent powerful institutions that cannot be overturned at the flick of a switch. As Tomasky rightly says, change, “takes years, which is a bummer, in a political culture that measures

success and failure by the hour. The end of euphoria should lead not to

disillusionment, but to seriousness of purpose.”

Time to get moving people.

Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.