al calloway.jpgChristians will tell you that even Jesus Christ, the carpenter with The Good News, could not nail down human behavior. (It is believed that His spirit is still trying to make us act right.)

Now here comes Barack Obama (miraculously sent via the Spirit World?) whom no one saw coming. And, much like a carpenter nailing a structure together, this man Obama told the people over and over — tried to nail it down — that “organization is from the bottom up” and “yes we can.” And emotion spilled from the people and they chose him President of the United States of America!

The people even withstood bitter January cold in the millions to bear witness to God’s creation of this black son of an African from the Garden of Eden and a white woman from middle America taking his oath as the 44th president of the most powerful nation, ever, on planet Earth.

Emotions spent, the people went home well satisfied and commenced to do nothing. They left it all up to him, one man against all the evils of the world, one man to save a great nation from falling on its sword.

The downtrodden blacks, breakthrough Latinos, elderly on fixed incomes and others not only did not coalesce; they did not organize house by house, block by block, group by group into cohesive power blocs to be joined for social, political and economic power. No, after the inauguration, they all went their separate ways and did nothing.

Unions, environmentalists, the multitude of non-rightwing churches and other progressives hailed a new day and went about doing business as usual, maintaining the status quo, which also meant continuing to placate minorities, the poor and near-poor. But organizing from the bottom up? Not a chance.

It was not in any group’s interest to awaken the sleeping giant, the American people. Or so liberal and moderate interests apparently reasoned.

It was the social, political and economic rightwing Americans, the conservatives and neo-conservatives, who listened intently, studied and co-opted what should have been Obama’s thrust, save for the do-nothings that elected him president.

Enter the Tea Party, a slim but organized minority of mostly white Americans who latched on to the reality that organizing is from the bottom up and “yes we can” — and they did. They attacked the president of the United States of America. Obama’s race was attacked, his religion — charging that he is a Muslim, not a Christian — his birth, his politics as un-American and his competence.
Tea Party members, neo-conservatives and other sympathizers, including mass media networks and pundits, spewed race card-tinged anti-Obama venom throughout the American body politic — and it worked. The movement grew and money poured in.
Do-nothing liberal and moderate Democrats were targeted by Tea Party organizers and ousted from office during the 2010 election.  The movement elected governors, congresspersons, state legislators and city councilors across America. And now the Tea Party has virtually taken over the Republican Party as the debt crisis debacle clearly illustrated.

Meanwhile, President Obama treads water as he awaits the re-election boat to pick him up so he can begin his trek across America in search of support and votes. He knows that only 20 percent of America think favorably of the Tea Party and 57 percent disapprove of the Republican House of Representatives Speaker John A. Boehner, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll.

Another shift in congressional membership may well be in the offing if American voters act in 2012, as the poll indicates, in that the current congress has disapproval rating of 82 percent. And, by “a ratio of more than two to one, Americans said that creating jobs should be a higher priority than spending cuts.”

Conservatives of all stripes will work on ironing out their differences in the Republican Party and develop strategies to overcome their negatives. Democrats will either fight their dysfunction like dope fiends try to detox cold turkey or succumb to the usual. 

But Obama, characteristically, will continue to soar above the fray and focus on direct dialogue with the American people, re-emphasizing, with detail, that “organization is from the bottom up” and, yes, the majority of American people can do it.  “Yes we can.”

Al Calloway is a long-time journalist who began his career with the Atlanta Inquirer during the early 1960s civil rights struggle. He may be reached at

Photo: Al Calloway