Students > Back in the Day

Republicans for Obama Memorandum to the Campaign

August 2008


The formal post WWII structures, economic, political, financial, security, human development (basic educational and training) and traditional press are all stressed and collapsing. We are in the fallout of the greatest collapse of a national leadership class in modern history, one willing to forfeit the checks and balances of the Constitution and the civic legacy of generations. A citizenry unwilling or incapable of discerning and acting upon their common interest has abetted it.

No matter what the short term fixes to our troubles might be, an immediate goal should be the active involvement of America's young people in the fundamental issues affecting their futures. The four subject areas outlined below offer not just an opportunity to get them involved for the long term, but to change the shape of the current campaign to the advantage of Mr. Obama, who already has captured their imagination---but doesn't know what to do with it or them. The opportunity also extends to re-articulating the extinguished vision of Public Interest Republicanism, which will be indispensable in any successful Obama governance scenario.

I. The Citizenship Regeneration Project

America's regulatory structure (its thousands of Cabinet and independent regulatory agencies) has been systematically undermined, functionally and organizationally. From financial markets, through workplace, to the kitchen table and play room, we have lost control of the agencies we have taken for granted and permitted corporatism (K Street, et. al.) to denigrate. The range of disciplines and nomenclature puts understanding of regulatory processes out of reach for the citizen, making "regulation" easy prey for corporate power. But, the destruction of regulatory function has now become palpable, something in the public mind that must be fixed, though not a priority. But fixing it is the ideal vehicle for the MASSIVE involvement of college aged (and below) young Americans in understanding their government. Regulatory process is boring: It comes alive only in the context of the public interest to be promoted, but then it jumps off the page making the need, the legislative process which created it, the budget which supports it, and the Constitution which authorized its existence come alive. Every Agency has a raison d'etre in the public interest: every young American loves to discover and to expose hypocrisy to be relevant. Any young person who learns the operation of ONE regulatory agency will understand the esoterica of hundreds of others. Any kid who learns the operations of ONE will more fully understand his/her government and the people who dedicate their lives to it.

How does one create the environment where young people are inspired to actively engage in learning regulatory process?

Senator Obama should seize the moment to announce that he will task every land grant college or university and any college to adopt as a quasi-ombudsman, a single regulatory agency of the federal government, for which all agency functions will be as transparent as for the agency's Inspector General who should operate as the gate keeper for agency access. The objective is not the creation of a massive study, rather the on-going scrutiny of the operation of an Agency (including legislative oversight) and its weekly, if not daily, reporting of agency operations. In other words, the university, but most importantly, its' students would become the American citizens' representative inside the agency. The University would be free to choose any path to achieving Agency oversight, so long as the function involved the maximum feasible participation of its student body. The scope of that oversight must also include the review and scrutiny of the regulated industry; it's lobbyists, the Congressional oversight committees and their staffs as well as the Agency budget process.

The participating colleges and universities other that those designated by Federal Government affiliation is likely to result in multiple selections of a single Agency. The more the merrier: technology will now permit virtual national discussions and comparative analysis of Agency functions and decisions: all based upon a "public interest' standard.

And perhaps the reporters of the campus newspaper whose beat includes agency functions can begin to populate our public interest ignorant media with the expertise to understand the value and function of essential governmental processes.

II. National Defense Rationalization Project

Perpetual war is a rational policy to those who profit from it and don't think that they have to fight it. Until recently, the majority of Americans could rationalize perpetual war. After the stupidity of Iraq, only fear keeps the majority of Americans in its clutches. Young people are the most fearless of our citizens. Enlisting them to stamp out opportunities to stoke fear will be a tremendous investment in a secure American future. Senator Osama’s Primary promise must be delivered in some fashion. Here are two ideas:

a. The most insidious attempt to deepen and broaden American militarism is the stationing of 'strategic defense' in Europe. Less a functional system than a platform for subverting the will of Eastern Europeans to resist militarization of their economies. European strategic defense is vulnerable to open debate. That is why there has never been a debate (even in Congress) over the efficacy of European stationing. And that is what an Obama candidacy should promise, if successful: an opportunity for American and European young people to debate and UNDERSTAND what continued militarization of the futures would mean.

In either an on-line, or series of weekend discussions in the on four or five American campuses, young American, Czech Republic, Polish and, perhaps, Russian students should examine the threat, the technology, and the political ramifications of European stationing. These students are the ones who will live in the hyper militarization promised by Euro stationing. The issue is not outcome but understanding and a chance for the young people of the western world to come together to comprehend the shape of their future.

b. The key to successful fear mongering in support of militarization is absence of a defining national defense interest. America refuses to comprehensively define its defense interests because to do so would temper and provide a framework for sanctioning the weapons industry. Americans have been taught that we should be able fight and win at will, anywhere, any time. As myopic as that as that view may be, it does not rival in its insidious implications the driving proposition of the Bush Administration that America has the right to fight at the American Government's (the President’s) unfettered discretion. Walking back from the catastrophe of this policy will take more than strategic disengagement. It will take the willingness to define rationally our interests and our means, most importantly our diplomatic and soft power means, of engaging the world. We are not without a model--this is the way the German build their force structure and control their would-be Speers. See,

 III. Veterans Restoration Project

The young men and women who enlisted at the beginning of our current conflicts are in many respects as broken as the policies which took them to war. They can be and, for the short and long term, moral and social health of the Country must be fully restored in body and mind. We are currently making a mess of the job. If we do the job right, this generation of wounded veterans can be the backbone of a new federal and state civil service. Of immediate importance, the National Guard, of ALL our military structures, is most in need of rebuilding: there is no such thing as homeland security without the National Guard. Our restored "wounded" must be an integral and invaluable component of a new Guard structure.

What will it take to get it right?

This generation of Veterans, aside from the Guard and Reserve wounded, are more disassociated from structured community and perhaps family than previous returnees. This leaves them and their families isolated. They are also more world savvy and technologically sophisticated than previous generations. They can be challenged to do what no previous generation could be asked to do: to heal themselves through the formation of support communities of their own choosing. It is both feasible and preferable for the "in-need" veterans (and families) of our current wars to be treated through a quasi-governmental agency run by the veterans themselves, funded from Iraqi oil revenues for the next 30 years. America is about to enter an era in which the Federal Budget will be a free-for-all of competitors with the deepest lobbyist pockets. The veterans of the Iraq and Afghan Wars should not have to compete in such a political environment. Our soldiers now fight overseas as much for Globalization as for Country, and Globalization should pay the freight--up front as well as after the fact, as here. Senator Obama should announce that upon assuming the Presidency he would immediately establish a study group to make recommendations to him and the Congress on the quantification of the life costs of the restoration of Iraq-Afghan War veterans and feasibility of removing those costs of restoration of the Iraq-Afghan War from the budget process.

IV. The Preamble Amendment

We are now a heartbeat away from a second Taney Court. Taney's crime, perhaps surpassing Plessey in its impact, was his elevation of the 'corporation' to personhood in the Constitution. Ours is now a Court that honors the spirit of Canon Law more than the spirit of the Preamble, which should be the basis for debate in every political campaign for federal office. The way to insure that the plain meaning of the Constitution is the basis for the Regeneration America is for Republicans for Obama to propose a Constitutional Amendment, as follows:

"The terms of this Constitution shall not be construed without due regard to the enumerated purposes of the People as set forth in the Preamble to their Constitution."

Senator Obama's finest moments in the campaign have come in his articulation of the promise of America's future as inspired by the principles of the Preamble. The Preamble was also the implicit source of the traditional public interest Republicanism. If there is any unifying set of principles upon which to begin the rebuilding of a broken America, I can think of none with greater resonance than those of the Preamble.

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."