In December, 2009, President Obama said, “the buck stops with me,” when the Homeland Security Department he inherited from Bush & Co. failed to prevent the Christmas bomber’s attempt. But the four alarm mess the Bushies dumped on Obama and the rest of us, including the badly pasted together Homeland Security Department, is not a “buck” he should pick up. Sure, he has to make a much bigger effort to really clean uptheir mess, despite the fact that they are doing everything they can to block him at every turn. But the “buck” for all of this still stops with the Right and their backers: the “big business thugs.” (Yes, I know Obama is making some big new messes of his own, but the ‘thugs’ are most certainly behind those too.)
Of course the president can’t really get away with openly blaming “big business thugs”for the gridlock we’re stuck in–at least, not for very long. The stock market will go down again if he does, and then even more of the peoples’ pension funds vanish. Naming the blame correctly and succinctly is our job. It’s time we answered the Right’s scare tactic of ‘big government’ with the truth about what’s really scary in the land: it’s the “big business thugs” who blackmail Congress. (We can prove that.) Of course, it’s not allbig businesses and certainly not all business in general. Small businesses usually aren’t trying to obstruct or bleed the citizens they serve either. The “big business thugs” I’m thinking of are those companies and sectors of the economy that continually and actively obstruct the American people’s health and well-being in every way they can—big investment banking, the health insurance industry, big pharma, oil companies, big agriculture, and so on.
Like all thugs, they use behind the scenes threats, manipulation, bribes, and above all, passing the buck. It’s often been said that the Right is good at framing, in the sense of messaging, but they are even better at framing in the criminal sense: shifting the blame to someone else, and making “you and him fight.” Big business thugs are the ones who really betray our democracy and abuse working Americans. And to their gang of captive conservatives in Congress they add worked-over individual Democrats, however progressive those hapless folks might wish to be.
A minute ago I said it’s our job to bring all of this up. In a recent piece in Tikkun,(“Why Are Americans Passive as Millions Lose. . .?” January/February 2010 issue ) psychotherapist Harriet Fraad laid out a brilliant analysis of why Americans have been so passive while big business thugs gutted our economy and our democracy, starting with the Reagan administration. In conclusion, she suggests some excellent new organizing tactics based on her current research. I think there is real cause for hope now too. The American public is hopping mad, and not just the tea party folks either. Let’s give them all the whole truth, in phrases that could easily spread, about who’s really to blame for our troubles. We could turn the newly aroused creativity of “a can do America” loose again. After all, this would not be the first time in American history that the American people have had to take our country back from big business thugs.