George McGovern wrote an open letter to Barack Obama for the September issue of Harper’s Magazine. His letter asks Obama to step up and lead America by introducing bold initiatives like President Roosevelt did to revive the economy and build up the middle class.
McGovern describes a major hurdle in in Obama’s path that Roosevelt did not have to overcome:
Like Roosevelt, President Barack Obama has inherited a serious economic crisis, but in his first two years in office he has been met with an even worse problem: the rigid opposition of the rival party leaders to national health care and nearly every other proposal he has made. The Republican House Appropriations Committee has even voted to terminate public funding for NPR and PBS. Neither during my four years in the House of Representatives, when Dwight D. Eisenhower was in the White House, nor through eighteen years in the U.S. Senate, under John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon, have I witnessed any president thwarted by the kind of narrow partisanship that has beset Obama. He has tried to avoid such divisions by publicly explaining his willingness to compromise, but these gestures have been spurned. Some of his political critics have gone so far as to express the hope that the Obama Administration will fail, even avowing their determination to hasten that failure. What has happened, one is compelled to ask, to the love of nation?
The Republicans have traded in their love of nation for their hate of Obama and their love of power. All they want to do is thwart Obama’s every move, blame the whole ensuing fiasco on Obama, and hopefully win the 2012 election. If they do, all they’ll do is the only thing they are good at anymore: Destroying the working class and making themselves and their billionaire donors richer.
The rest of McGovern’s column is mainly advice for Obama including six bold proposals that Obama should consider:
1. Get out of Afghanistan this year. No invading country has ever won there. We won’t either.
2. Close all U.S. military bases in the Arab world. They do more harm than good.
3. Consider withdrawing our troops from Europe.
4. Reduce the current military budget from $700 billion to $500 billion next year.
5. Repeal the Bush tax cuts for the rich and then increase their taxes above Clinton’s top rate.
6. Use the savings from ending wars and cutting defense expenditures to rebuild our infrastructure, to revive the G.I. Bill, and extend Medicare to all Americans.
I am for all of these proposals. Come on Obama, make it happen!
(Update: McGovern’s column is now available on the Harper’s website, but you need to be a subscriber to access it. If you are not a subscriber, go buy the magazine. They need more readers.)