Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Please note I have a new phone number...


Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.

"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Some thoughts on Obama and Change

I have been active in the Minnesota DFL and the Democratic Party most of my life.

Lately people have a lot of questions about Obama using the phrase, “Unite For Change.” People want to know what Obama means by “Unite for Change.”

People come up to me and ask, “What kind of “change” is Obama talking about?

Quite frankly, I don’t know what kind of change Obama is after since he doesn’t spell it out and articulate any specifics.

But, what kind of change is needed really isn’t up to Obama anyways, is it?

We know the social fabric of our country will continue to be torn asunder should we get another four more years of Republican rule. Quite frankly, and I am ashamed to say this, given the way the Democrats have acquiesced and gone along with Bush the last eight years I’m not all that confident Democrats will do any better controlling the Presidency, the House and the Senate. Part of the reason I feel this way is because the Democrats have had ample opportunity to stop Bush in his tracks; they didn’t.

Working people have been pushed out of the decision-making loop for quite some time in our country and we have to figure out a way to get back in the mix.

It is up to working people to clearly chart the course for progressive change and to unite for change behind the agenda we articulate. We need to make politicians understand that they work for us, not the other way around.

Several very basic changes come to mind that I think about:

1.)In the area of health care we need single-payer universal health care which will be a stepping stone to get us to socialized health care. Obama’s idea of health care “reform” leaves much to be desired; he wants to leave the profit gouging insurance companies, HMO’s, doctors and the pharmaceutical industry in control when most of us know this is what is wrong with the system--- profits come before people; and, it should be the other way around.

2.)We need a minimum wage that is a real living wage. Any job that an employer needs done should provide the worker doing that job a real living wage. The way to arrive at what the minimum wage should be is to use the statistics and calculations of the United States Department of Labor and the Bureau of Labor Statistics based on real cost of living factors rather than having some politicians pull a miserly figure out of their hat at election time. If employers don’t like this let them do the work themselves; with the robbery at the pumps it won’t be long before it won’t pay to go to work anyways. What’s Obama’s stand on the minimum wage? I don’t know. It doesn’t really matter. We need to seize the initiative and make it clear to him the change we want.

3.)We need to end this dirty war for oil in Iraq; it’s a war that was based upon lies and deceit right from the beginning and it has taken a terrible toll, not only on the people in Iraq, but on us here, too--- to the point where we can say that every bomb dropped and every bullet fired is destroying our society, too. We can’t have a foreign policy which sees wars as solutions to complex problems. As far as I can see Obama doesn’t really offer much change in this area either so we are going to have to take the initiative in charting a course for change as we expect things to be and make our voices heard.

4.)We need to make it clear that in any program aimed at “greening” America through massive government subsidies to business and industry, that what taxpayers finance, taxpayers should own--- including the profits.

5.)Public ownership of the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant needs to be considered. Saving two-thousand jobs is a major priority for Minnesotans in this election.

In the end, we should see ourselves and our unity as the surge for change, and stop waiting for Obama or any other politicians to explain what kind of change they are for.

Change should be about solving real problems. The people experiencing these problems, you and me, should be able to articulate the solutions… this is what real change is about.

In a democracy people are supposed to be active participants in movements for social change, not mere cheerleaders clapping and waving placards for politicians mouthing hollow, meaningless platitudes about “change.”

“Yes we can” bring about “change” if we get together where we work and in our communities.

In reading Barack Obama’s book I learned about his mentor, Frank Marshall Davis. I then got interested in finding out more about who this “mentor” was. I think Frank Marshall Davis would be somewhat disappointed in Obama today because Frank Marshall Davis didn’t mince any words when it came to articulating the problems of working people and bringing forward real solutions to the problems. Frank Marshall Davis understood that working people once educated, organized and united are a powerful force for “change.” Frank Marshall Davis understood something Barack Obama doesn’t seem to have learned from his “mentor;” that in order to get “change,” you need to articulate and clearly define and spell out what kind of “change” is being talked about. Of course, as we all know, Frank Marshall Davis was a Communist and he had a very good understanding of the underlying source of problems which all too often goes unstated and unchallenged and remains hidden because of the high fear-factor level in this country; I am referring to capitalism--- a thoroughly rotten system. Frank Marshall Davis also understood through his thorough studies of the situation that socialism provided the only workable alternative to capitalism.

Education starts in our homes, gathered around the kitchen table discussing our problems with family and friends. From there these discussions need to find their way into our places of employment and into the larger community.

There really isn’t much for us to learn about “change” from Obama, but there is quite a bit to be gleaned from the writings of Frank Marshall Davis and I thank Barack Obama for bringing him to my attention… now I can say that Frank Marshall Davis is in many ways my mentor, too.

Obama has called on all of us who want change, irrespective of our differences, to come together on June 28, 2008 under the auspices of “Unite For Change;” I think this is a good idea. We can use this opportunity to discuss what kind of change we need in our communities and in our country.

I would encourage people to exchange contact information, e-mail addresses and phone numbers so we can start networking and organizing around our problems and their solutions.