As Obama’s presidency nears its end, assessments of his reforms are beginning to appear. But editor of The Nation Katrina vanden Heuvel says that the most significant changes are coming not from the man on top, but from movements at the bottom.
“One man, one woman, even a president cannot change the political system in one, two, three years,” she said. “Our system is so complicated and corrupted by money, by establishment power, that it takes movements from below allied with politicians of conviction inside.”
Katrina vanden Heuvel compares the Occupy to other great transformational movements, like the Labor movement, the Environmental movement, and the Civil Rights movement in the ’60s.
“All of these movements have brought about the transformational change that President Obama spoke of,” she said. “But you cannot expect one man, one woman, one leader to do without the support.”
Katrina vanden Heuvel believes that the US nation is losing hope in politics, but says that change is possible if people do not play “the betrayal sweepstakes.”
“There is a sense that politics is not working, governments are not working for ordinary people, that they don’t have the legitimacy, the trust of people,” she said. “Change is possible if people don’t give up, if they don’t lose hope, if they don’t play what I call ‘the betrayal sweepstakes,’ which means always moaning and whining instead of organizing and fighting for progress, for reforms that could improve the condition of people’s lives.”
Vanden Heuvel said that until now the views of 99 per cent of Americans were not represented in the US electoral politics.
“That disconnect is dangerous and that has to shift,” she said. “There is renewed excitement among Americans, because there is a movement brewing in America. Suddenly the 99 per cent of Americans, who had not been heard from, are being heard from, and heard from the media which has not paid attention until now.”
She also said that until just recently, the mainstream media in the US thought there is only one significant movement in the US – the Tea Party.
“Now they see,” she said. “There are hundreds of groups working on issues from helping people with foreclosure and mortgages to helping students with their loans. These groups are now being supercharged by the new environment.”
Vanden Heuvel believes that the US needs new faces to run for office, and says that the Occupy movement has already brought forth some candidates, who share the reformatory ideas.
“There are candidates now, like Elizabeth Warren, a woman running for senate in Massachusetts, or Tammy Baldwin, a woman running for senate in Wisconsin,” she said. “These are women who represent the ideas of Occupy Wall Street. So it will carry on in different ways.”