George Graham

Dance With the One Who Brought You, Mr. President

As the old saying advises: You should dance with the one who brought you to the party. It’s advice that President Obama would be wise to heed.

The president has sometimes given his base the cold shoulder in the hope of appealing to a mythical “center” in American politics. But that’s not how it works, Mr. President.

Right is right and wrong is wrong. Some legislation is good, some is bad. Some economic policies create jobs, some don’t. There is no “middle road.”

And if you are right, you can persuade others to agree with you. That’s what you did in 2008. That’s what you are doing now. But that’s not what you did during your first two and a half years in office. You repeatedly tried to find the middle road, believing that Republicans would see the light and cooperate with you for the good of their country. And where did that get you?

You even managed to antagonize the unions – a traditional pillar in the Democratic Party’s base – in your attempt to court “independents.” But I hope you’ve learned from last night’s election results how essential those unions are to your success.

Controversial issues presented to voters last night included an Ohio law taking away the union rights of state workers like teachers, firefighters and law enforcement officers. The law was patently oppressive and the unions took their case to the people of Ohio. The results show what organized labor can do when it’s motivated. By an overwhelming margin, Ohio voters struck down the union busting law.

Encouragingly, the defeat showed that knocking on a million doors trumps spending millions on propaganda. It shows that the Supreme Court’s decision unleashing the financial power of right-wing corporations does not necessarily mean the end of democracy in America. Billionaires like the Koch brothers poured torrents of cash into the campaign to retain the Ohio law – to no avail.

It was not the only high-profile defeat for the far right last night. A crazy constitutional amendment that would have made a fertilized human egg “a person”  was rejected in Mississippi. In Mississippi! Even in the vehemently anti-abortion South, sanity prevailed. The law would have banned not only abortion but also most types of modern birth control. And it would have made it a crime to save a pregnant woman’s life if – for example – an embryo developed in her fallopian tube.

There were many other triumphs for People Power in the elections. When Republican legislatures in states across the land bared their fangs, the Democratic base rose up in protest. And it was the Democratic base, energized by the unions, that carried the day.

Click here for more on the elections.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for