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Moats: Is real change possible?

03/04/09 5:55PM By David Moats
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(HOST) Commentator David Moats has been observing post-election events in Washington and reflecting on what lies ahead for the Obama administration.

(MOATS) Winning the election was the easy part.

I didn't seem that way at the time.

Remember the election campaign of 2008?  It went on and on, and millions of Americans were convinced the election of their candidate was essential to the nation's future.

The election of Barak Obama created the expectation or hope that swift attention would be given to health care, climate change, human rights and a host of issues.  But the battle that led to Obama's victory was only chapter one. We can see that now.

We elected a president who wants health care reform.  But we didn't get health care reform.  Not yet.  That'll require chapter two and three and four.

It turns out the election was just a prelude to the real battle.  In some ways it was mostly symbolic.  We elected the idea of health care reform.  To get actual reform, Congress and the president will have to take on all the special interests who oppose real change.  Those special interests are still there, unimpressed by the euphoria of Obama's victory and inauguration.

So now the question comes down to this: Is change possible after all?

On climate change, the forces arrayed against a meaningful policy are huge.  The election of Obama suggests the American people agree with him that climate change is a serious problem and that action to curb the emission of greenhouse gases is necessary.  That doesn't mean the power companies, the oil companies, the coal companies, or even the car companies, agree.  Obama wants to enact a cap-and-trade system, which would penalize industries that exceed caps on greenhouse gas emissions.  But, as we're learning now, it all depends on what you mean by green.  Are we thinking environmental green?  Or are we thinking the color of money?  Just because Obama won an election doesn't mean the interests that pollute have suddenly seen the light, stepping forward to contribute fees for the common good.  

It doesn't work that way.  The losing side in an election doesn't just roll over and play dead.  It defends its interests as fiercely as it would have if it won, or maybe even more fiercely.

Farm policy is another example.  Obama wants to cut subsidies to agribusiness, which makes sense for many reasons, unless you're Monsanto or Archer Daniels Midland.  The question is whether our tax money will go toward the subsidy of high fructose corn syrup or toward real food.

So the battle we all experienced with such passion during the election continues, except now it's for real.  It's about real change and real hope.  It's about whether Obama can rally the nation to his vision of the common good and turn back the self-interest of powerful companies and their political tribunes.

It's not going to be pretty.  It will be history happening.   And we need to pay attention.
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