I wish Obama would go to Kansas more often.
His speech there on Tuesday was unlike any I’ve ever heard him give.
He finally embraced progressivism.
He finally focused on what he rightly called “the defining issue of our time,” which is income inequality.
He recognized that “this is a make-or-break moment for the middle class, and for all those who are fighting to get into the middle class.”
He identified the raw deal that most Americans have been facing, and he echoed Teddy Roosevelt’s “fair deal.”
Income inequality, Obama said, isn’t “fair”—and “fair” is a word he used sixteen times in his speech.
Income inequality is also bad for our economy, he said.
It also, he noted, “distorts our democracy” by giving “an outsized voice to the few who can afford high-priced lobbyists and unlimited campaign contributions, and it runs the risk of selling out our democracy to the highest bidder.”
And, Obama said, “this kind of gaping inequality gives the lie to the promise that’s at the very heart of America: that this is a place where you can make it if you try.”
Like FDR, he made great fun of the rightwingers and the wealthy, who are “suffering from a kind of collective amnesia” and “want to return to the same practices that got us into this mess.” He called their theory, “You’re on your own economics.”
And he bluntly said, “it doesn’t work, it has never worked.”
He also took on the bankers, whose greed caused the economic crisis and who are now “fighting us every inch of the way.”
This doesn’t sound like the same Obama who told the country’s biggest bankers, back in March 2009, that he wanted to help them.
If the Obama of the Kansas speech is the real Obama, let’s have more of him.
If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "Occupy Activists Push Ahead."
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