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Robert Kuttner: ‘Where’s the Protest at Home?’

Texan4Hillary offers his perspective as a movement progressive activist.

Robert Kuttner asks the question progressives have been asking for years: When will Americans hit the streets in protest of their Wall St. friendly government?

He ponders the thousands of Americans protesting in the street this week against Mubarak and notes:

On Saturday, I crossed paths with a few hundred protesters marching from Cambridge to Boston to call for the resignation of Egyptian President Mubarak. By appearance, they were a mixture of Arab-Americans, locals, and people from assorted other backgrounds.

The loud, peaceful march was almost startling, because you hardly see street protests in America these days, even in liberal Massachusetts. The Boston Globe quoted one Egyptian-American woman saying that middle class anger in Egypt has swelled with unemployment and inflation.

“You can’t live a fairly decent life without being rich,” she said.

So when will the masses here put the pieces together and demand more from their government? Washginton gives our taxpayer money to the banks with ease. When it comes to war there are no questions on funding. But when it comes to the poor, to the unemployed, to the middle class struggling day after day, Washington and the MSM go wild for cuts to programs we need.

And Obama? His Wall St. cozy administration should send thousands into the streets for it shows a conservative Democrat leaving the people without any kind of true bold progressive programs or leadership in a time of great urgent need.

Kuttner remarks on Obama’s SOTU and his call for budget cuts to appease the Right:

My friend Westen was incredulous. Why would a Democrat .. sacrifice Medicaid and programs for kids for the sins of the bankers? Why add fuel to the right’s attack on public employees?

People watching the speech rightly wondered: How do you freeze domestic spending — and also dramatically increase outlay on 21st Century infrastructure? How do you win public support for more desperately needed public investment when you brag that you will reduce domestic spending to its lowest share of the economy since the Eisenhower years?

In America the lack of progressive, bold leadership that puts people first is rendering a crisis: economic stagnation, the wealthy growing in power, and the terrible crushing of the middle class and poor on behalf of Wall Street. So:

This moment cries out for a combination of clear leadership and mass protest.The protesters shaking the foundations of despotic regimes in the Middle East …are united only by their disgust with the corrupt status quo. But you have to admire them for acting on their frustrations….

It … remains to be seen whether Obama can finally be the ally of drastic reform at home. If not, the domestic rage about the economy will continue to belong to the far right.

It’s great to see Americans demonstrating in solidarity with ordinary Egyptians. But the next time I cross paths with a robust protest march, I’d like to see citizens protesting the wreckage of American prosperity by Wall Street and the too feeble response by our government.

Income inequality breeds anger, protests, and worse. Look at Egypt. Or look at America circa 1930. Great rage and street riots broke out time and again in the early 1930s due to the severe income inequality and the suffering from Hoover’s policies. At some point the people here must fight against austerity and for a better deal, a New Deal perhaps?

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