The president seems to be realizing about now that change is perhaps more powerful than even he had imagined. All of us who pitched in to do the impossible and elect an African-American outsider to the most powerful job on the planet now expect substantive change to a system that is more than ailing, it is shattered.
We the rabble are not Commies, we're meritocrats. We want the best and the brightest to both lead and to prosper because we like to think that someday their ranks might include us, or our children.
Our discontent is not new. What is new is that, for two powerful reasons, our grumbling must now be heard. The first reason is that our voices, raised in unison, are what brought this new administration to power. George Bush was beholden to his base and acted accordingly. President Obama is just as beholden to his base. We, the rabble.
Secondly, all of our tax dollars (and massive loans from the Chinese) are the only things currently keeping the global economy afloat. So we have almost unprecedented influence over our own destinies.
Let's not blow it.
Executive compensation has been a perversion of market capitalism for years. It's been an ugly collusion between rich board members and CEOs to legally drain the companies they were supposed to shepherd. Instead of obsessing over this one point, however, let's fix it and move on to the deeper issues that will help us all win this war for a sustainable future.
A war, by the way, that we are losing.
The much more troubling issue seems to be the trillion dollar bailout plan. If Paul Krugman and John Galbraith are right and Geithner's trillion dollar bailout of troubled assets proves to be another grotesque windfall for the shamelessly greedy while doing little to raise the rest of our boats, then the great promise of the Obama Presidency might crumble with it. All the experts seem to agree that this banking issue is the key to guiding us away from a Depression and the administration's Job One. It is Obama's war in Iraq. It is upon which we will base the success or failure of his administration.
What, as the rabble, can we do about this mess? Well we can at the least, as Professor Galbraith suggests, demand that there is an independent examination of the loans before a dime of the one trillion is spent. It's our money and we can, respectfully, let the Obama administration know that we didn't elect them to pursue more of the same Wall Street/Washington business as usual. Business as usual is broken.
Obama still has we, the people, at his back. He can change more than he thinks he can. I'm reminded what Gandhi, the Henny Youngman of pithy transformative world leaders once said: "There go my people: I have to go and run and catch up because I am their leader."
Finally, enjoy this, brought to my attention by the inimitable Jason Linkins: