Domestic Social Policy Part I: What About Us? (Re-post from 2008)

Remember when President Clinton’s campaign discovered that “It’s the Economy, Stupid!,” and then build a successful presidential campaign around that core understanding? Well, as far as I can see we’re back in the same place again. Only this time “It’s Domestic Social Policy Stupid!”

I am a Barak Obama Democrat. I am a delegate for the Barak and one of his biggest fans. His speech last week in response to the criticism of his pastor Rev. Wright was simply brilliant! The Dallas County convention is this Saturday and I plan to stay all day. It will be very interesting if the precinct caucus is any indication! (Look for a “Hot Mess In Texas: Part II this weekend.)

However, despite my enthusiasm and commitment to Senator Obama, I am and have been for the last decade or more very disappointed by the lack of attention to domestic social policy in the U.S. In other words, we “changed welfare as we know it” during the last Clinton administration but where did all the poor people go!

Perhaps I’m hypersensitive since I’ve spent most of my career working with people of color and poor people in the inner city. But we act as if they no longer exist. What happened to issues that drove us as we strove to act like the richest country on earth.  Why are we not making sure that we at least try to create opportunities and resources giving everyone at least a chance to succeed? What happened to us?

What happened to the homeless? Is there a “chicken in every pot?” Is no one in the U.S. going hungry. Is college affordable? Where are the recreation programs to keep kids out of trouble if they are poor and marginalized?  Will Congress ever fund Community Development Block Grant going at a reasonable level again so we can use the money to help the low and moderate income communities that it is supposed to help instead of diverting it to municipal projects? What about affordable housing and job training. Even if college were affordable not every one needs to go.

What about us?

I know we are almost inextricably bound to Iraq now. There’s just no way around it. However, we live here, we live now and we can’t pay our mortgages. The Federal Reserve Bank just bailed out Bear Stearns. Drive-by shootings have begun again in earnest in Los Angeles after years of relative calm. Make no mistake: These are mere symptoms of an ailing society. What about the war at home?

Maybe I’m naïve but, $12 million a month could go a long way toward addressing these and myriad other issues that face us all. Do not think for a moment that you can run and hide. We are only as strong as the weakest link. Those links among us have become so weakened from neglect that I fear they are about to break along economic, race and class lines and no one, not even Barak seems to be paying attention.

Barak knows about these things. He’s lived in these communities. He’s been broke. The question is does he still remember how it feels it and most importantly, will he walk the walk when it comes to taking on domestic social policy. What about us, Barak?  What about us?



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