The Crescent Report

November 9, 2010

Politics Can Be Compromised, But Principles Cannot

Filed under: From the Desk of Imam Mahdi Bray — Imam Mahdi Bray @ 1:32 pm

The Election 2010 has come and gone and here’s what we got. A Chicago community activist who became the Senator from Illinois then the President of the United States and who now behaves like a philosopher king. Public officials willing to use xenophobia, religious bigotry and Islamophobia to get elected to office and a national political discourse that renders the poor invisible. Check out the piece below.

Imam Mahdi Bray

Quote of the Day: “Them that got is them that gets and I ain’t got nothing yet.”

Politics Can Be Compromised, But Principles Cannot

By: Ibrahim Abdil-Mu’id Ramey

Let start with the obvious:  the huge electoral gains by the Republican Party (and the radical Right wing of the Republican Party embodied in the Tea Party movement) in the November 2010 election was a setback for those of us who are self-identified as progressives.  The push-back against the broad legislative and social agenda of the Obama administration was well-organized, well-financed, and fueled by massive fear of the enormous budget deficits and the vision of an inclusive America with health care for all.

True enough, there are contradictions and problems with what the President and the current majority party in Congress are proposing, and the ongoing and inconclusive war in Afghanistan (and for many of us, an unjust conflict as well) is certainly among them.( We should remember here the enormous fiscal mess that President Obama inherited from the Bush presidency, along with the real possibility, in late 2008, that the entire economy and banking system might have gone belly-up)  But the likelihood of major, progressive advances, like the continuation of a national health care mandate, or protection of some fundamental rights of immigrants, is now jeopardized by the rejectionist new Republican majority in the House of Representatives ( and the thinner Democratic Senate majority in the Senate) that will be seated in January of 2011

President Obama, who is clearly at odds with the Republican House leadership, is now contemplating the need for of some sort of compromise with the muscular new opposition majority in the lower house, and the zealots on the right that will seek to dismantle.  But this is NOT a time for the administration to back down from the basic, and necessary, elements of a progressive agenda that Republicans are likely to attack.

What are these initiatives, specifically?  Here are two that come to mind:

1. Health Care.  There are flaws in the legislation passed by Congress earlier this year, and major challenges are mounting from state attorney generals that are challenging the constitutionality of compulsory participation in the universal coverage system. Some aspects of this complex law won’t kick in until 2014, and clearly, the health insurance monopolies have not been dismantled.  But kids are being covered, and there is some hope that more than 50 million uninsured people in the United States will receive some benefit from the Obama health care legislation. His opponents have promised to dismantle or even repeal this new law, and that is something that the current administration simply cannot afford to let happen.

2. Holding the line against the immigrant push-back.  Yes, there is a huge problem with the machinery of immigration law, and there is also legitimate concern for issues related to border security and documentation.  But neither mass expulsion of undocumented workers, nor draconian SB 1070 – like legislation is going to solve the problem.  Some Republican state legislators, and more than a few of their congressional allies, are not trying to tamper with 14th Amendment citizenship guarantees; President Obama and his administration must stand firm and hold the line on what amounts to racial profiling in  selective immigration law enforcement, even if some aspects of immigration policy have not yet been addressed.

It’s certainly true that the new Republican House majority rode into town with a vow to dismantle many of the initiates over that last 22 months that many of the rest of us see as progressive and necessary for the majority of people in the United States.  And politics may indeed involve the art of compromise but the principle of heath care coverage for a majority of uninsured Americans must not be surrendered, at any political cost.

But there is one issue that our political leaders, on both sides of the great partisan divide, have made virtually invisible, and it is one that the administration cannot ignore: the startling growth of poverty in America.  We talk about maintaining “middle class”  tax cuts’ and saving “middle class” jobs, but almost no politicians speak about the growth of poverty in America (now at least 14 percent of the population), or the fact that nearly 14% of people in the nation receive food stamps (and in Washington, DC, where I  live, the number is 22%).  Have the poor been written off, or conveniently forgotten?  Now is a good time to remind the party in the White House that poor people are full human beings who count in the political equation as well.  They are also voters – and 2012 isn’t so far away.

Principles like fairness and racial and economic don’t disappear from the landscape when one political party loses a legislative majority in Congress.  Indeed, now is the time for serious organizing and planning for maintaining the struggle for justice for all.  These are principles that cannot be abandoned because of a shift in the electoral winds.

 

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