Four years ago a hurricane named Katrina destroyed a great American city named New Orleans.
The unprecedented natural disaster was followed by a disaster that was much worse.
The ultra-right, under the leadership of George W. Bush, used the remains of a devastated city as a laboratory in which it tested almost every horrific right-wing social experiment imaginable. Nothing withstood the ravages of the monster they turned loose on New Orleans and its people. Homes, hospitals, schools, roads, utilities, infrastructure destroyed, people left stranded as they tried to put their battered lives back together, immigrant workers exploited by fly-by-night contractors who had carte blanche to do as they pleased, African Americans effectively barred from coming home and many more were crushed by the right-wing steamroller.
The result is a city that is still a wreck.
So President Obama’s agenda takes on even more urgency in New Orleans than it does everywhere else. The job that remains to be done in that city requires overhaul of health care so everyone has access to quality, affordable care; passage of the Employee Free Choice Act so that new, good paying jobs rebuilding the ruins become available; approval of new rules that require payment of prevailing wages not only at federally funded construction projects but at all types of government funded operations; immigration reform to end the inhuman exploitation and discrimination; stimulus funds for public schools; and financial reform that will stop banks from preying on the victims of the disaster.
New Orleans, perhaps more than anyplace else, shows why this agenda is both necessary and timely.
New Orleans, perhaps more than anyplace else, shows why the working class and its allies must view this period in our history as the time to continue building a powerful movement that can put an end, once and for all, to the ultra-right schemes that were really responsible for destroying a great American city. The election of Barack Obama, our first African American president, was our first big victory. Growing and strengthening the labor-led coalition that won that victory is our next big job.