Political Realism Bites
I’ve been a progressive Democrat since before I could vote. And I voted for President Obama in 2008 because I thought he would change things. Or at least that he would fight to change things.
Now, I don’t know what I am. Disappointed, I guess.
We wanted change. Almost all of us wanted it, not just Democrats or Obama supporters. Even McCain and Palin supporters wanted change. As misguided as they were, even they knew that America couldn’t go on the way it had under Bush and Cheney.
We wanted an end to costly and unjustifiable wars, to torture, to Guantanamo, to wiretapping, to excessive secrecy. We wanted an end to the incestuous relationship between government and big business. We wanted regulation of Wall Street to prevent another economic catastrophe. We wanted greater equality. We wanted government to listen to ordinary people, not just to lobbyists with paper bags full of cash that they delivered to politicians and regulators.
Surprise. We didn’t get any of that. Instead, we got a few token victories. Very few.
Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor are on the Supreme Court. “Don’t ask don’t tell” is on its way to the dumpster.
Elizabeth Warren is temporarily running the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but the Obama administration won’t support her publicly because it might annoy Republicans and Wall Street.
We got a kinda sorta health care reform that moves an inch in the right direction but sells out to insurance companies, drug companies, and the medical industry. It has no public option or Medicare for all, which are ways to provide quality care and control costs. (As a future doctor, I feel no shame or hesitation in criticizing the medical industry. I’ll be working to improve it.)
On the other side, we got airport strip-searches that don’t catch terrorists but do humiliate passengers. We got more money shoveled into Wall Street with almost no strings attached. We got another war, this time in Libya, and no end in sight to the two big wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Guantanamo is still open for business. The U.S. government still tortures prisoners, including U.S. soldiers like Bradley Manning who have no link to terrorism. We got one Obama surrender after another to the craziest elements of the Republican Party — on taxes, on regulation, on policy.
In the middle of an economic crisis with real unemployment over 10 percent, Obama knows better than to think that it’s a good time to cut government spending or jobs programs. With inequality in America higher than in Egypt, where they just had a revolution over it, Obama knows better than to cut taxes on the super-rich and cut assistance to poor people. But the nutty Tea Party people and the Wall Streeters want it, so he agrees with them that it’s a wonderful idea. He just wants to do it a little smaller.
Where is the leadership? Where is the standing up for what’s right? Where is the change?
I’d hate to think that 2008 could be the first and last time I bother to vote in a presidential election.
If the only choice is between a “know nothing” party dominated by big business, and a “smart enough to know better” party dominated by big business, then why should I waste my time? I don’t want them to shut down the federal government or ravage the neediest to enrich the richest, but it’s not like I have any control or even influence over any of it.
The Obama administration has to give me a reason to support it other than “we’re not quite as bad as the Republicans.” Otherwise, I’ve got studying to do.
Copyright 2011 by Rinth de Shadley.