14 December 2009

It's not working, Barack

Some Democrats, who cling to a belief in a political system of horse trading and attempted "bipartisanship, will disagree with me on the failures of the Obama administration and the Congress to actually deliver on "Change We Can Believe In." But I gotta tell them that those of who think so highly of this president are going to have a difficult time convincing a very large number of Democrats who feel betrayed by the virtual collapse of health care, and who look down a long list of things they thought President Obama stood for and see just not enough in the way of accomplishment. Financial re-regulation, compromised to a shadow of itself. Infrastructure investment, weak. New Renewable Energy projects, not much. War, escalated. Constitutional rights infringed by the Rightist government of Bush, nothing much: they even defend Torture Memo Guy Yoo. "Enemy Combatants" still being held. 4th Amendment still being ignored. Climate Change, little hope. Traditional Democrats may think me naive, but I believe I am representative of many millions of people who just aren't willing to accept a Center-Right Democratic party any longer, and who find this list of not-enough-Change we can believe in really frustrating. 

Sure, you can say the administration brought us from the brink of financial collapse, and I do recognize that the previous president booby trapped both the economy and two wars, but this just isn't good enough. People, ordinary people, who voted for Obama out of hope that things would be really different, are very, very tired of all this compromise. What's needed from President Obama is some righteous anger, and some "kicking butt." For example, why has he not publicly lambasted Lieberman, who is nothing but a right-wing Republican at this point? Why is Lieberman still allowed to keep his chairmanship after virtually singlehandedly derailing both the Public Option and the Medicare Buy-in, both of which had the support of a majority of Senators?

It just isn't cutting it, and they are going to have to do better if they expect to keep, let alone build on, House and Senate majorities. Because, illogical though it may be, when people are frustrated (and ordinary people, not just progressive Democrats are frustrated, believe me), they tend to vote for the party not in power. Or else, they'll just stay home. Polls show 80+% of Republicans intend to vote in 2010, but only about a quarter of Democrats say this. Of course it does more harm than good. But this is so often-repeated in history that it's become a truism of politics.

What I'm doing is supporting Harkin's call for an end to the filibuster, and not contributing to DNC or the House or Senate campaign committees... not until they promote only Democrats who are real Democrats. I support ActBlue, which will support primary challengers to Democrats who vote Republican. It's time for Democrats to have the courage of their convictions, which means being willing to take the risk of losing, so as to move the party to a place where it actually stands for something. I truly believe that if the party leaders did that, expelled Lieberman, criticized and pressured Lincoln, Landrieu, Pryor, Nelson, and others, to come around to a generally progressive viewpoint, then the party would start attracting  a lot of disaffected Independents, who basically don't believe that any politicians represent their interests. And, the sad truth is, the way things are now, they're not wrong. 

Roosevelt used to tell his critics on the left to "go out and make me do it." Obama seems to be saying, shut up, don't rock the boat, let's just compromise this compromise of a compromise and maybe the Republicans will give us a crumb or two. It's not working, and it's time for some Big Change. 

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