Published on
the Bangor Daily News (Maine)

Try Baking the Change We Knead

“It’s time to fundamentally change the way that we do business in Washington. To help build a new foundation for the 21st century, we need to reform our government so that it is more efficient, more transparent, and more creative.” — Barack Obama

I think I’ll start selling bumper stickers that say, “Don’t blame me, I voted for change.” You can put it over the sticker you already have that says, “Vote Obama for Change.”

We can’t put all the blame on the president. You need to take responsibility for him not changing things. When you used that one-word instruction “change,” you weren’t terribly clear. Your bumper stickers should have said, “Hey, Sen. Obama, if I make you president I want you to change the way we do things not the way we talk about things.”

But let me be fair, he is changing some things.

Oh sure, he’s bailing out finance and industry just like the last president did. And he’s ratcheting up our war machine just like the last president did. And he’s co-opting his base just like the last president did.

But look at whom he just nominated to be surgeon general. Her name is Dr. Regina Benjamin, a woman respected by her peers, who has worked in Alabama bayou clinics caring for the poor. If approved, she’ll be in charge of public health and she actually has worked her whole career for the betterment of public health.

She’s actually qualified and that’s a big change from how the last guy nominated folks.

Remember when Bush 43 named Eric Keroack, an abstinence-only physician, to oversee family planning and the distribution of birth control to low-income women? And then there was John Bolton, nominated for ambassador to the United Nations except, oh yeah, he hated the United Nations. Or how about my personal favorite, Michael D. Brown, who was hand-selected by the former president to head up our emergency management agency even though his background was Arabian horses.

Oddly enough, because our current president seems to be more on the ball when it comes to resume reading, the country thinks we’re getting on the right track — change is coming — the “change we need.”

Don’t get me wrong, having the right people in charge is important. Changing the captain on the Titanic might have been a good idea — but only if he had been changed before the mishap with the iceberg. A new captain before the collision could have changed course. A new course is the change we need, too. Or as some protesters down in Washington, D.C., would like you to know, a new course is “the change we knead.”

That’s right, a whole pile of peaceniks, universal health care activists and environmentalists are baking bread in Lafayette Park in front of the White House. Keith McHenry, co-founder of Food Not Bombs, a not-for-profit organization that thinks feeding the hungry is a better use of our resources than blowing people to smithereens, is one of the organizers. McHenry says that they are “following in the footsteps of Mohandas Gandhi, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr.,” and asks you to join their “nonviolent sit-in for a positive future.”

What do you think? Will you go? They’re not leaving until we get the kneaded change. I’m going to go. It’ll be fun. We can bake bread in solar ovens and talk about the change that folks who voted for Obama were expecting — the same change Obama had promised.

If enough of us protest, maybe someone will notice that the voters don’t want controlling interest in General Motors; they want single-payer health care like they have in the countries where the cars are made that compete with General Motors.

The voters don’t want a continually ballooning deficit; they want all that war spending cut and our soldiers to come home and the killing to stop.

It’s just like President Obama said: “I don’t care whether you’re driving a hybrid or an SUV. If you’re headed for a cliff, you have to change direction. That’s what the American people called for in November, and that’s what we intend to deliver.” Too bad the only thing the president actually has changed is his mind.

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Pat LaMarche

Pat LaMarche

Pat LaMarche is an author, activist and advocate. She is the author of "Left Out In America: The State of Homelessness in the United States."  Her new novel, The Magic Diary, is due out in late spring.

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