Category Archives: Grassroots

Fire in the Belly…

…Kudos to our President.


United States President Baraka Obama.

In a graduation speech published on June 8, President Obama offered this assessment of innovative change politics.

He said that what frustrates him most is the fact that leaders lack the “fire in the belly” needed to make a difference in people’s lives. There is no sense of urgency among those in authority in a country with so many pressing problems.

President Obama is certainly a driven man. He set up Obama for America (OFA) at a time when no other President in the history of United States has ever done such a thing to help people. Under his leadership a lot is being accomplished such as health care reforms. His celebrating victory has since motored on efforts to attract investors to the United States which has many advantages.

A deeper problem with our politics is that leaders don’t always see the need to behave like president Obama because voters don’t always reward such behavior.

The formula for success, as is well known, is simple. One needs to accumulate a huge sum of money once they get into office and align with the right ethnic barons in their home state or county.

After that, it is a short road to victory. You just need several sets of colorful shirts, dance a lot in rallies, pay your campaign mobilisers and you will soon be back in office.

We lament about these leaders a lot but we blame everyone except ourselves. The fact is that voters are the weakest link in this system.

We see politics as little more than a spectator sport. An interesting study would be for someone to research on why Prince George’s County citizens, far more than any other people in the region, spend so much time on social media breathlessly discussing trivial political matters without analyzing their local leaders especially here in our Prince George’s county .

In many other countries, politicians don’t sleep because they know citizens are eternally vigilant about key issues which affect their lives. It was interesting to witness Prince George’s county citizens calling their county a “slum” sometimes last year. What are they going to do to make changes in a county with so much potential?

Governments in India can and have been brought down by the price of onions, a key staple in many Indian dishes.

Last year, amid an onions shortage, India’s Farm Minister Sharad Pawar floated tenders to import the commodity to increase supplies and bring down surging prices.

When it emerged that imports would take several weeks to arrive by sea, he said they should be brought by air.

Price of onions

He has obviously learnt from the fall of the Delhi state government in 1998 and the victory of the Congress Party in the 1980s, all of which came in an environment where voters were angry over high onion prices.

In the Arab world, the price of bread has always been a flashpoint. In 1977 in Egypt, there were bread riots over rising prices and the police and army urged the government to review their policies because they could not contain the crisis.

Today, many dictators are out of their jobs because a young Tunisian man, Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself on fire to protest the economic situation in his home country.

In China, the Communist Party leadership began a meeting last year to chart a new course for the country now that growing economic success means that millions of well exposed youths no longer want to do the same factory jobs that their parents toiled in to produce the transformation that country has enjoyed over the last 30 years.

Prince George’s County politicians never need to worry about such things. From the grassroots to the top (Mr. Rushern Baker), they know that the electorate does not care too much whether politicians apply themselves to tackle problems like high youth unemployment, impossible interest rates, high foreclosure rates, school system corruption or crime.

Which is why it is so refreshing to see vibrant President Obama showing that with a little imagination, transformative change can be achieved in the country just as it has in many places around the world over the last few decades.

We don’t know enough about the particulars of the President Obama’s plans to know whether they will work or fail in the future. But at least he has the right attitude.

From Malaysia to Singapore to Turkey, societies have been transformed by leaders with “fire in the belly”. Voters must learn to reward such behavior and identify similar people to take office from the bottom up.

We truly hope you will consider what we have written and keep an open mind when it comes to trying to solve the problems in our county and especially in connection with the failing schools in Prince George’s County and elsewhere.  We can make failing schools better but we can’t keep doing the same things over and over by not getting the right leadership. We cannot keep relying on teachers and schools to solve all the problems. What works in the suburbs or parochial schools does not necessarily work in the inner city. We need to address the other two elements in order to make real change.  We can do it if we change the focus and reward leaders with fire in the belly.

Thank you for your time,

~Reform Sasscer Movement for Prince George’s County~