Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Chapter Two of “Contract With America” or “Obama Youth Movement”?

There is an Obama proposal that could possibly gain traction with political conservatives. In his infamous speech that gave rise to fears of a private Obama police force, Obama spoke of community service in exchange for government tuition help. It became apparent in the context of the twenty six minute speech that Obama misspoke, but the speech did put the public on high alert against encroachments on liberty.

Back in the 90’s, Newt Gingrich had a “Contract with America” that included work in exchange for public assistance. Although there were protests from the left, the ideas gained traction, and there was a massive shrinkage of welfare rolls without the predicted tidal wave of starvation and homelessness.

Obama’s proposal of community service in exchange for tuition seems to be an extension of the same idea. Beyond high school, there is according to law no automatic entitlement to a university education . There is a critical difference between workfare and community service for tuition. Workfare was approximately like a regular job. You showed up and did your hours and were then entitled to what was essentially a straight welfare check. There was no lectures on political philosophy. What your opinions were remained your business.

The skepticism of Obama’s proposal is the fear that government programs would be organising not only community service but some sort of political training. Workfare targets anyone who had been on public assistance. Obama’s program by its nature would target young people with less likelihood of having any sort of political education.

There is a long list of organisations that work with youth and have roots in communities accross America. Boy Scouts, Catholic Youth Organization and National Council of Synagougue Youth are all organisations with their own widely disparate philosophies that all advocate service to G-d and country. A traditional religious family or individual might wan a millieu for public service that is supportive of the values in their home. It is perfectly legitimate to have a list of activities that would constitute community service. Tutoring children reading to the blind and picking up litter on highways are a few examples that come to mind. It is likely that in exchange for help with administrative costs that the religious private sector could tap into a pool of labour that could enrich the quality of life for millions of Americans.

An additional issue with Obama’s proposal is parity of funding between government youth corps and those under the auspices of private organisations. Money should be allocated with as little political discrimination as possible. possible.

Barack Obama is taking office in a time of recession. His idea of passing out checks to stimulate the economy does not sound like he grasps the gravity of the situation. A national service program could possibly provide services without breaking the bank.

Opposition to Obama comes from opposition to his economic policies and opposition to his social policies. Bad economic policies could bear bitter fruit. Unlike George Bush, Obama will not be able to blame his failures on an opposition party gridlocking his efforts.

The issues of abortion and the sanctity of traditional marriage resonate strongly among Christian and Orthodox Jewish voters. They also strike a responsive chord among African Americans, many of whom belong to socially conservative religious denominations. These issues will not go away. There is potential for concern about these issues to precipitate racial unity on the political right as African Americans and whites forge a coalition around their concerns.

I heard about a woman in Italy years ago who was a Communist Deputy in Italy’s Parliament She was also a devout Roman Catholic. Her ideas about worker’s rights were in line with those of the Italian Communist Party. (which at the time ran advertisements for FIAT in its daily paper) Her price for appearing on the Communist list in elections was permission to vote against abortion and with her conscience. I believe that the political right might need to show similar creativity and flexibility in promoting its ideas.

America’s political and religious institutions were formed in times of segregation. Our people have grown faster than our institutions. Conservatives need to reflect on their political institutions, core values and future. When a business has a slump in sales, they look for a cause and a remedy. Then they take action. A political movement is selling ideas and a program. The survival depends on creativity no less than does business

Obama has a chance to grow in office. One of the great skills of the Clintons was in coopting ideas of their opponents. Bill Clinton could have used his Presidential veto and created a legislative stalemate. Instead, he went along with workfare and got a good share of the political credit for it.

Unlike Clinton, Obama will be working with a Congress of his own party. Even his opposition will cooperate on sensible economic measures. With a Democratic Congressional majority, there will be no safety brake on the folly to which Obama seems prone It is up to the American people to be vigilant. Sphere: Related Content

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