Cover photo by Nathan Moore
President Barack Obama made a stop in Woodbridge on Friday, September 21, 2012 to fire up his base and to also reiterate the goals and guiding principles of his campaign. These ideas ranged from strengthening American manufacturing to tackling the national deficit. The subject that stole the show was not the economy, but the President’s claim that Romney wants to pull an “inside job” in Washington. This came as a rebuttal of a recent Romney attack focusing on a quote from the President when he appeared on the Spanish language TV channel Univision. On this channel the President declared, “You cannot change Washington from the inside.” Romney quickly jumped on the opportunity to voice another five second opinion and claimed that the President was throwing in “the white flag of surrender,” and admitting he could do nothing to solve America’s problems. Many of the political ads and banter over the past few weeks have been less than noble, but this assertion is especially hollow because Romney said the exact same thing verbatim, in 2008. Since the Romney campaign will not be dictated by fact checkers, this quote will most likely be lost in the wave of attack ads and gaffes that will undoubtedly flood the mainstream media in the upcoming weeks, and this will not be the only thing lost in the noise.
Beyond the glow and glare of the superficial jabs in the political arena, Obama’s use of the phrase “inside job” draws attention to a serious problem facing the country that is often ignored. What is ignored is that the very economic system guiding the country may be the real problem; not Democrats, or Republicans, but capitalism itself. This is surely the view of many of the Occupy protesters who made their voices heard in 2011. It continues to be a pervasive, yet elusive element of the political dialogue. Perhaps some form of “inside job” is needed, where the very system that shapes and dominates the lives of billions is transformed, from the inside out.
With the spotlight constantly shining down on Obama and Romney, it is easy to forget that there are still serious problems within the capitalist system that may not be able to be solved by simply electing a new President or supporting a new party. No one on Wall Street has been criminally convicted for the 2008 financial crisis that devastated millions of people around the world. More recently economist Richard Duncan stated, “Civilization may not survive the death spiral,” of debt America has accumulated. In the face of these facts, both Obama and Romney continue to offer up “solutions” to help the Middle Class, none of which even hint at the core of the problem. These problems consist of corporate greed, big money in politics, a military-industrial complex that feeds on global war, and unsustainable practices that threaten the only planet known to support life in the universe.
Obama’s mentioning of sustainable practices at the Woodbridge rally are hard to reconcile with the capitalist system that is inherently unsustainable. On one hand, sustainability is not profitable to corporations that need the products they sell to expire in a timely fashion so consumers need to buy more and more. On the other hand, as long as lobbyists and financial interests have the undivided attention of politicians and policy makers, sustainability will be nothing but rhetoric, not reality. Obama’s “All of the Above” energy policy that supports the use of both fossil fuels and renewable energy may not be enough to curb what the International Energy Agency has called “irreversible climate change” the Earth will face in five years unless drastic measures are taken immediately. It is clear that what is needed to solve many of America’s, and the world’s problems, is not a new President or a new party, but an entirely new system.
Senator Mark Warner, who introduced Obama at Friday’s rally, started a chant with the words “Guard the Change.” However, the change that America needs to end economic inequality, war, and destructive climate change, has not yet happened and will not happen under a Democrat or a Republican, as long as they are operating within a capitalist, for profit, system. An inside job is needed; one that addresses real issues and offers real solutions. The inside job that Mitt Romney has to offer is nothing more than a continuation of the destructive policies that have proven unquestionably inefficient and undeniably inhumane and oppressive to a majority of the population. The “outside job” of change President Obama spoke of will be equally flawed if that change has its base in a capitalist system that breeds corruption and class struggle.
At the Woodbridge rally the President did a great job, as he always does, of getting his supporters excited and delivering a powerful and rousing speech. Immediately after the teleprompters are turned off and the microphones go silent the real problems are still there, lurking beneath the surface of party politics, largely ignored by the mainstream media, and eating away at the very existence of society and the planet. No one should expect either Presidential candidate to begin to oppose capitalism or offer up new solutions, but ordinary people living under a callous and rigged system can come together and begin to move toward a brighter horizon. The people are not powerless and do not have to depend on an inefficient system to fix problems that threaten the very existence of the human species and the planet Earth. Yes, an inside job is needed, but not one that involves the same political practices that were an accomplice to the 2008 financial crisis and will be complicit in the next. An inside job that addresses the rotting decay at the black heart of the American government and capitalist system is what is needed. The people, united and marching under no banner but their own, can come together to begin to address these issues in a meaningful way. No one speech, no one man, no one party, can save America from self-destruction, only the people, operating under a whole new system can preserve the planet for future generations of lovers and dreamers.