A VERY hard pressed Obama, right at the start of his state of the Union message, was forced to summon the ‘God of Battles’ to his aid.
He declared ‘Our Constitution declares that from time to time, the President shall give to Congress information about the state of our union. . . They’ve done so during periods of prosperity and tranquility. And they’ve done so in the midst of war and depression; at moments of great strife and great struggle.
‘It’s tempting to look back on these moments and assume that our progress was inevitable – that America was always destined to succeed. But when the Union was turned back at Bull Run, and the Allies first landed at Omaha Beach, victory was very much in doubt. When the market crashed on Black Tuesday, and civil rights marchers were beaten on Bloody Sunday, the future was anything but certain. These were the times that tested the courage of our convictions, and the strength of our union. And despite all our divisions and disagreements, our hesitations and our fears, America prevailed because we chose to move forward as one nation, as one people.
‘Again, we are tested. And again, we must answer history’s call.’
Rejected by the workers who put the Kennedy clan out of office in Massachusetts to show their dissatisfaction at his rescue of the banks at their expense, sacrificing tens of millions of their jobs, Obama seemed to suggest that he was about to be reborn.
He insisted that ‘the worst of the storm has passed. But the devastation remains. One in ten Americans still cannot find work. . . . And for those who’d already known poverty, life has become that much harder.’
He opined: ‘For these Americans and so many others, change has not come fast enough. Some are frustrated; some are angry. They don’t understand why it seems like bad behaviour on Wall Street is rewarded, but hard work on Main Street isn’t; or why Washington has been unable or unwilling to solve any of our problems. They’re tired of the partisanship and the shouting and the pettiness. They know we can’t afford it. Not now.’
The solution: ‘And what the American people hope – what they deserve – is for all of us, Democrats and Republicans, to work through our differences; to overcome the numbing weight of our politics. . . it’s time the American people get a government that matches their decency; that embodies their strength.’
However, Obama is not talking about a second American revolution.
He did touch on the root of the problem. ‘Our most urgent task upon taking office was to shore up the same banks that helped cause this crisis. It was not easy to do. And if there’s one thing that has unified Democrats and Republicans, and everybody in between, it’s that we all hated the bank bailout. I hated it – I hated it. You hated it. It was about as popular as a root canal.’
The solution: ‘So tonight, I’m proposing that we take $30 billion of the money Wall Street banks have repaid and use it to help community banks give small businesses the credit they need to stay afloat. . . Now, the House has passed a jobs bill that includes some of these steps. As the first order of business this year, I urge the Senate to do the same, and I know they will. They will. People are out of work. They’re hurting. They need our help. And I want a jobs bill on my desk without delay.’
He however had to add: ‘But the truth is, these steps won’t make up for the seven million jobs that we’ve lost over the last two years.’
A higher truth is that since President Obama is seeking to resolve the crisis of American capitalism, this can only be done by increasing the exploitation of the US working class, and the misery and poverty that goes with this.
He cannot deliver the millions of jobs at good wages, and the free universal health care for all, that the US working class and middle class crave.
He and the US ruling class also cannot deliver a more peaceful world. Obama made a special point in his speech of the importance of the US waging a ruthless trade war for the world’s markets, and also waging war in Afghanistan and other countries. He pledged that Iran ‘will face the growing consequences’.
The US trade unions must break with Obama and form a Labour Party to fight for the interests of the working class, for socialism at home and abroad.