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The Path Forward Starts with Learning from the Past

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George Goehl. Photo Credit: Dale Robbins

It was a grueling election, and we congratulate President Obama on his re-election.

We had high hopes for President Obama’s first term. Our expectations should remain high this time around. But we’ve learned the hard way that elections are step one in the process of creating change. Now is the time to chart a course toward a new economy in which the health and well-being of ALL Americans is accounted for in our nation’s bottom line. This starts with unfinished business from the last term.

Let’s break up the big banks. It’s absurd that the big banks deemed “too big to fail” became bigger. They are not only too big to fail, but too big to be held accountable. Building a real economy starts with downsizing those who crashed our economy in the first place.

Our new Treasury secretary must support a Robin Hood Tax that makes Wall Street contribute to America. If the wealthy, Wall Street and big corporations begin to pay their fair share, we can make investments in a new, green economy that is grounded in local and community-controlled institutions that prevent capital from skipping town for the next sweetheart deal.

Let’s put the housing crisis behind us. This starts with appointing a new director of the Federal Housing Finance Authority. Ed DeMarco, a Bush appointee, has stubbornly blocked principal reduction, the most effective means of resetting the housing market. President Obama needs to send him packing and appoint a permanent director.

Coming off the most expensive and big money election in American history, we need to get big money out and everyday people into our democracy.

Finally, it’s time we invest in building the economies in communities of color who have been among the hardest hit by the recession. The results of the election make it clear that they represent a powerful political force that will demand solutions in the president’s next term. This includes a pathway to citizenship for immigrant families. Let’s get it right this time.

The president has said, “This is not about me, it’s about you.” While the words have made us feel good, we have not acted on them after our votes were cast. We have a second chance to make it about us. President Obama will only be as good as we challenge him to be. Let’s make the next four years live up to the aspirations we had four years ago.

In March, Bill Moyers spoke with George Goehl about how average people can fight back against self-rewarding actions of banks and corporations. Goehl is the executive director of National People’s Action, a network of community power organizations from across the country working to advance a national economic and racial justice agenda.

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