Dear Democratic base.

It has come to my attention that the Democratic base is disappointed in their President.

I hear the base feels that elected Democrats have shown contempt for the base since 2008, and is really tired of a lot of things: Being taken for granted, for instance, and Democrats doing stuff that the base doesn’t want them to do — not least, President Obama becoming more and more, as they say, “like Bush.” And so, I’ve been told, the base might just abandon the President (and his party) — and will certainly fight him tooth and nail, tear its hair and gnash its teeth — what with having being thrown so unceremoniously under the bus. And all.

I just have one question.

If y’all are “the base” — what the hell am I?

I have spent my entire adult life working on social justice causes, whether professionally or on a volunteer basis. I believe that every single person on earth deserves fully equal rights, by virtue of their very humanity, and I border on the socialist in terms of what I think the State should be responsible for. I like unions, I hate torture, and I really wanted single-payer health care.

Moreover, I’m a life-long Democrat. I’ve never knowingly voted for a Republican, and I don’t believe I ever knowingly will. I volunteered with the Democrats in 2008 and 2010, and I will do so again in 2012. I’m not sure that the following is anything to brag about, but the simple fact is that I make all of my personal political choices — all of them — based on what will or will not help the Democratic Party. Why? Because like it or not, we have a two-party system, and I want the party that best represents my ideals and philosophy to have an upper hand.

But please note: I said “best represents.” I may be a life-long Democrat, but I am no fool.

I have many disagreements with individual elected Democrats (ask me about Anthony Weiner. Not to mention Chuck Schumer), and with the party as a whole. I have been disappointed by the current President, his positions and policies, on well more than one occasion.

For instance – Gitmo.

I don’t think that Obama is entirely responsible for Gitmo still being open (Congress really did tie his hands), but I do think that he likely could have led with greater conviction in order to convince Congress to do the moral thing. It pains me enormously that we elected a constitutional scholar, yet he appears to be kind of ok with indefinite detention.

And then there’s Israel/Palestine, where Obama came in saying all the right things, and then turned around and commenced to let the Israeli government lead his government by the nose, just like every other President before him.

On health care, I wish the messaging in the lead-up to and during the reform fight had been much, much better — because then the eventual legislation would have also been much, much better than it wound up being.

And I’m not quite ready to let Obama and/or the rest of the party off the hook for losing the House to the damn Tea Party.

I believe that all these matters (and others, no doubt) should be brought before our elected officials. We should advocate for our beliefs, and when Democrats make what we believe to be mistakes, we should tell them so, honestly.

AND YET.

The simple truth is that President Obama has advanced more progressive causes than any President since FDR (not least: health care reform). He ran for the job knowing it would be challenging, and then the job got exponentially harder before he even took office. He is genuinely loathed and feared by millions of Americans — whose fears and loathing are daily ginned up and fortified by people who make their living off of making the President’s job as difficult as humanly possible — and the opposition party has not, as far as I can tell, enjoyed a single day of responsible legislative behavior since he stepped into the Oval Office.

In short: Obama is attempting to do an extraordinarily difficult job under even more extraordinarily difficult circumstances.

I don’t expect him or the rest of his party not to screw up. Nor do I expect them to always agree with me, or read my mind. I expect them to stick as close as they can to the general outline of the party platform, and maintain an even-keeled pragmatism that allows them to recognize when a hill is worth dying on, and when it’s not.

And after eight years of the Bush Administration’s scorched earth policies and contempt for both reason and the American people, I remain grateful that we have a President who acts like an adult, and treats the American people as adults. He’s not perfect — but Obama is pretty good.

So, “base”? Shut up.

You do not get to speak for me, nor do you get to speak for the vast majority of the actual Democratic base — 90% 80%* of whom think Obama’s doing pretty ok, thanks for asking.

There are much greater things at stake here than our personal feelings of pique or individual dreams of instantaneous world improvement. Remember the last time y’all said a Democrat was “just like Bush”?

It was eleven years ago, and Al Gore lost by a hair and a stolen vote.

How’s that working out for you?

****************

*Update: To my very real chagrin, it was called to my attention that I had initially linked to some very, very old approval numbers — my only excuse is that I saw the date on the webpage and then must have gotten distracted. I am very sorry for my error. The corrected statistic (80% Democratic approval) reflects Gallup Poll statistics from March28-April 3, 2011.

Crossposted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles.

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61 Comments

  1. Moreover, I’m a life-long Democrat. I’ve never knowingly voted for a Republican, and I don’t believe I ever knowingly will. I volunteered with the Democrats in 2008 and 2010….

    I swear TO Gawd….that’s my criteria. Had pics of the Black Panthers on my wall along with some SDS folks in high school. I’m old school…

  2. cat48

     /  April 6, 2011

    Cosign!! I am also2 part of the Base of “the Dear Leader” (as Glenzilla loves to rant!) Actually, as an old, poor lady; the prez and his family are quite dear to me, I confess. Some mornings when I wake up & see him plodding thru, it just gives me inner peace! Just b/c he’s competent & that matters to me a lot. Glenzilla & Rachel Maddow want to be “courted”, but I feel he’s on our side. Otherwise, as a minority; he would have gone Republican b/c the money is so much better & the opportunities would have been endless with his talent! :)

    • Mary

       /  April 6, 2011

      You make a really good point about the opportunites Mr. Obama could have had, had he gone to the dark side, cat48

  3. Mary

     /  April 6, 2011

    I agree with you, and I don’t agree with you. I think Mr. Obama is head and shoulders over anyone the Republicans can propose and he will have my full support in the coming election.
    HOWEVER, that between us Dems and the outside world.
    WITHIN the family.. I reserve the right to have a slightly different conversation, ask for a stronger tone with the Israeli government, for more support to social welfare programs and less for the military, less support to corporate interests and more for workers unionized or not.

    • Absolutely. Those conversations are not just important, they’re crucial. While world improvement cannot be instantaneous, neither will it be achieved if we don’t keep hacking away at the issues together.

      My frustration is with the people who feel the need to hold these conversations — these fights, even, fights are fine — in as destructive a manner as possible, people for whom one disagreement means they can never trust someone again, people for whom only the complete alignment of opinion will be good enough. And in the absence of that? They will run around breaking things, paying no mind to how much damage they may be doing to the party, and our chances to actually achieve the goals they say they’re shooting for.

      • Mary

         /  April 6, 2011

        I can share that concern. I think the worst thing we can do is to fail to support Obama and hand a victory to the Republican party as it is currently formulated.

        It took a good 20 years for the right leaning side to become as unbalanced and uncivil as it has presently become. For some of our policies and positons to become so extreme. We aren’t going to rebalance things in one or even 2 terms. And we can’t expect Mr. Obama to behave with the force a dictator enjoys. He has to be incremental to be effective.

        I am you shared that 90% approval rating that reports within the party. That is heartening.

      • CitizenE

         /  April 8, 2011

        I have repeated this beef elsewhere. If we do not hold this President’s feet to the fire, who will? The complaint with him has been consistent for some time, first spoken in whispers, then more vocally, now at times there are shouts. Al Gore lost the election because he ran a miserable campaign. Because the election was stolen from him. The longer leftists blame the progressive wing of their party for that, when in fact it was on the shoulders of progressives that Dems regained power in elective office, the longer they will govern from a position that because politics demands give and take, the Democrats will continue to give, and the Republicans continue to take. Just two years ago, even conservatives thought their ideology was dead in the water with the only strategy they had in hand to raise the decibel level of their failed Presidential campaign soap opera. And yet they have managed to end up running not only the debate, but the agenda for the rest of us. This isn’t about one disagreement, but disagreement after disagreement after disagreement. This is about a vacuum of leadership. I say it many times here: I did not just vote for a bureaucrat in chief. There is no more powerful politician in the world than the President of the United States; there is a considerable difference between having a difference of opinion about one or two or three things than a difference about a fundamental understanding of the state of our national affairs. The Emperor has new clothes–maybe it goes with the job; maybe things are so f****** up that no one can make a difference. But to put it into any other terms than hell in a handbasket is better than by bullet train is a fool’s errand.

        • biznesschic

           /  April 9, 2011

          Let talk about accountability. The professional lefties, including Michael Moore and all, were going to teach Al Gore a lesson, so you guys convinced 90,000 voters in Florida, to vote for a guy, that even Michael had to beg not to run in 2004. Nader is now a pitch guy on Fox news.

          You want accountability? What about, “I love to fish on my personal yacht”, Ed Shultz, huffing and puffing about not voting in the midterms, until Dems got their acts together. How did that work out for the average American?

          You want accountablity? Why are the whims of “white progressives”, always have to be forefront? You guys are crying about Bradley Manning, but what about Dewayne Manning, who was just humilitated when stopped by the cops for driving while black?

          You see, we are becoming a little tired of the “we white people voted for you black guy, so now you owe us everything attitude. African Americans have turned out in droves for every democratic president, and now we are holding you accountable, to earn our vote.

          • I don’t know you, and you don’t know me, and I’m very glad that you found my blog and chose to comment, but I’m going to ask you to make sure that you stay on the polite side of this exchange.

            I don’t know what “we guys” (I’m a white progressive) are “crying about” — I do know what I wrote here, and what Citizen E wrote, and to the extent that anyone in this space has mentioned Manning, it has been to say they think that the torture accusations are fabricated. And I know that no one in this space has said anything even remotely like “we white people voted for your black guy so now you owe us everything but attitude.”

            So, please. Before you carry arguments from (I suspect) other forums into this space, read carefully, and address what people have actually said — and please assume good intentions, before assuming the opposite.

            Thank you, and I really hope you come back again!

            • biznesschic

               /  April 10, 2011

              You have just proved my point. Instead of addressing the issues of POC, and why we have a problem with this incessant complaining of the president, (And I think that I was addressing this poster), you turn it back as patronizing. Sorry, you are losing the POC vote in the democratic party, and good intentioned white democratic as yourself, are allowing it to happen.

              • I’m not going to argue with you whether or not an appeal for polite behavior in what amounts to my own house is patronizing. You don’t know me.

                This is my house. The only two people who have ever been banned here are white folks (one a Jew like me) who weren’t willing to accept that I expect people to treat each other with respect here — indeed, if you scroll through these comments, you’ll notice that I made a similar appeal to two other people who I do actually know (also both white, also one a Jew like me) to dial it back a notch. If you want to see this as a race thing, that’s up to you, but if you treat me and my commenters with disdain and disrespect, I’ll ask you not to comment here again.

                • biznesschic

                   /  April 10, 2011

                  Why is it that when POC want to talk about color, it is deemed “harsh” or the race card? The Democratic party has been deemed our house for people of color far too long. Seems are if you guy just want us to enter YOUR HOUSE to serve the drinks. No more. There is a move-out amongst POC and true liberals that are tired of the sense of entitlement. You may be surprised by it come 2012.

                  • I neither said “harsh” nor “race card” nor “serve drinks,” and, not that I expect you to believe me at this point, but it seems worth nothing that none of those words or notions had so much as crossed my mind.

                    I asked you to be polite and to not bring an argument that you’re having elsewhere here. You were unable to do that, and so now you’re banned.

                    • whitney

                       /  April 11, 2011

                      I love you, Emily. You and ABL are my respite in the crazy blogosphere.

                      You are dead-on.

                      Asking people to be polite is not racial. I don’t know about much else, but I’m fairly confident that demanding respect is still colorblind.

                      You go girl (;

        • E, dude, you know me. I have never said “don’t hold this President’s feet to the fire.” Taking an active role in shaping our party for the future is important, and I said both in the post and in these comments that I believe we have to hold voice our opinions and disappointments — but I believer there are responsible, constructive ways to do that, and ways that are neither responsible and constructive. I’m calling for the former — and also for honesty. If 80% of us approve of his job performance, than it’s simply not true to say that “the base” feels abandoned, thrown under the bus, etc. I’m the base. You get base-ier than me. Have I been genuinely disappointed? Sure. Do I feel abandoned or ignored or traded away for beads and baubles? Not in the least.

  4. BJonthegrid

     /  April 6, 2011

    Nice! I helped Virginia go blue for the first time since 1962, so I consider myself “the base under enemy lines”. The liberals claiming to know what the base thinks, wants, needs are the ones who make their money by telling the base what they think, want or need. Having gone through years of NAACP, Sharpton, Jackson and Smiley drama, I feel immune to this recent professional left drama. I don’t mind criticism of the President, but most of these folks never wanted Obama to be Preisdent and they will only stop attacking him when the Republicans have defeated him.

    • Heh – I snuck into Indiana in 2008 to help them go blue!

      Yay for being the base behind enemy lines!

  5. JosephFM

     /  April 6, 2011

    I’m not disappointed. I’m frankly ENRAGED.
    Here’s the thing. You’re right. We’re not the base. I don’t give a damn about party platforms. Health care “reform” is part of why I’m mad!

    If that’s “progressive”, count me out.

    • Mary

       /  April 6, 2011

      Joseph, because you are the least satisfied of us, I am interested in understanding your points a little better.

      Also, what opportunities do you think Obama missed to do things better. If you had been he, what would you have done to achieve a better outcome?

      Thanks.

    • JosephFM

       /  April 7, 2011

      I keep trying to formulate an answer to this, and I don’t think I can.

      I’m in such incredible despair, honestly, that it’s impossible to get the words out without restoring to what I know is ridiculous hyperbole that I’d regret as soon as it was posted.

      All I can say is, I think my worldview is pretty irreconcilable with everyone else’s here.

      • rootless_e

         /  April 7, 2011

        That’s because you have fallen for a slickly managed marketing campaign that appealed to your emotions and left you knowing something that is not true. I was that way myself and only became disillusioned with the anger left after a multiple year process.

      • I’ve felt despair much like I think you’re describing here, and I know that it’s really painful. I hope, I honestly hope, that you’ll find a way out of and through the despair, and find some way to reconnect to a party and a movement that are, in fact, very imperfect. The only way we’ll ever make either better is through continued effort, though it’s often very hard.

  6. “The base” is one of those neat little boxes invented by the media, where everyone in one box is presumed to be the same, and there’s no overlap between any two boxes. It’s the sort of conception that leads to the media’s bizarre way of mapping out the political world: if a Republican calls for a truce on social issues, that means he’s not a social conservative, and therefore that makes him a fiscal hawk–even if he supports the Bush tax cuts on the rich and oversaw the budgeting of both Iraq and Medicare D.

    If you listened to the media, you’d never know that far more progressives voted for Gore than for Nader. There was no major left-wing revolt against Gore in 2000, and so far there’s no such revolt against Obama now. But the people who call for such a revolt are vocal, and they’re in the habit of dismissing anyone who disagrees with their approach as a closet moderate. It’s no wonder the press ends up stereotyping the entire “base” as consisting of such people.

  7. Dear Democratic Base:

    I’m not a registered Democrat. I’ve never been a Democrat. I have, in fact, been a registered Republican as far back as 2002… although I will admit that I haven’t voted for a Republican since the 2000 Primary when I voted McCain over Bush.

    I consider myself today a no-party affiliate moderate. Except I admit to the truth that I am in fact a bitter ex-Republican who’s soured on a party that’s gone batshit insane on me.

    And I am here to tell you one thing about your disappointment with Barack Obama:

    ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR DAMN MINDS?

    Yes, his record on the torture issue is horrible. For the most part, it’s because he’s in no position right now to even investigate the serious BS that happened. And while his administration isn’t backing away from a lot of the abuse-level authority the White House grants itself now, there’s no evidence (outside of Manning) that he’s actively pursuing a massive torture regime of his own. The only ones comparing Obama to Bush on this issue are Greenwald and Sullivan, and they are absolutists on the issue of civil liberties so I don’t blame them for that.

    But in all other issues, Obama has exceeded expectations. Take this from someone outside your little circle of far lefties: Obama passed a stimulus that stabilized the economy and prevented a full-on Depression; Obama passed the Ledbetter Act for fair pay for women; he’s dedicated to the drawdown of troops in Iraq to where we’re almost out of that country altogether; he’s done what he could to keep the nation’s economy going.

    This is all in spite of the fact that Obama has faced the most outrageous, slanderous, bullshitty wave of personal attacks and hate-on since Abraham Lincoln got slimed by the pro-slavery Confederates. Clinton got off light compared to what Obama’s getting now. The entire Republican Party, led about their collective nose by the far wingnut psychos of the Teabagger brigades, is openly working to make Obama FAIL, and are prideful of that effort. Even if, and especially if, they can make Obama fail and have the nation suffer for it. Right now, the core ideology of the Republican Party is “If Obama’s for it, then we are against it.” Just look at their flip-flopping on Libya for God’s sake.

    Dear Democratic base: do not blame Obama. BLAME THE GODDAMN REPUBLICANS WHO ARE STILL SCREWING US AND THIS NATION. The same Republican Party that refuses to compromise on easing up on the Bush-era tax cuts, the very cuts THAT CREATED THE MASSIVE DEFICIT WE’RE IN.

    If Obama seems weak because he’s trying to compromise, that’s because as a politician he’s EXPECTED to attempt compromises. A majority of American voters, even the majority of Democrats, expect that. The problem isn’t Obama: the problem is a Republican Party THAT REFUSES TO COMPROMISE AT ALL, AND INSTEAD KEEPS MAKING HARSHER DEMANDS.

    The Republicans are at war with the people of the United States: they are at war with minorities, they are at war with teachers, they are at war with unions, they are at war with women, they are at war with anyone under 55 and anyone whose income is under $100,000.

    The solution here is not to abandon Obama: any other Democratic leader would be facing the same problem because THE REPUBLICANS DON’T CARE WHO THEY HATE OR HURT.

    The solution here is to get the VOTE OUT. YOU GOTTA GET MORE DEMOCRATS VOTING TO ENSURE DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES WIN ELECTIONS.

    Look at here. Look at Florida. In 2010, we had a choice between a Democrat who uses a Blackberry over a Republican WHO COMMITTED MEDICARE FRAUD. And Florida has more registered Democrats than Republicans (this is true, by 900,000 voters). And yet, voters were so glum or refused to turn out to vote. As a result, Rick “MEDICARE FRAUD” Scott won by less than 5,000 votes. The state of Florida is now getting screwed over by a crook who wants to privatize everything, kill our schools, destroy health care for nursing homes and the elderly, shut down unemployment benefits, force workers to take urine drug tests at HIS clinics, and give massive tax breaks to his corporate buddies… all because not every Democrat turned out the vote.

    Look at Wisconsin just now: thanks to their electing a Republican governor who’s turned out to be EVIL, their state is facing disaster as well. But they just had a mid-cycle election for Court Justice. Where the voter turnout was expected to be 20 percent, turnout jumped to 33 percent because a ton of Democrats showed up to vote the Far Right-backed incumbent (and incumbent judges rarely lose… ever) out. The vote was still close and does face a recount effort, but by turning out the vote the Democrats won.

    Dear Democratic Base: you may not like Obama right now. You may have issue with some of the decisions he’s made. BUT HE IS FAR AND AWAY A DAMN BETTER SOLUTION THAN ALLOWING THE REPUBLICANS TO REGAIN POLITICAL POWER. The Republicans are not to be trusted on ANY issue anymore. They are too corrupt: They are too batshit crazy. You far lefties may not like Obama, but you need him because the alternative (President Palin? President Bachmann? President Newt???) is fifty times worse!

    Here’s the thing to remember: DON’T VOTE REPUBLICAN. Just don’t. Not at any level. Get the vote out for Democrats. Get candidates in every campaign, from School Board on up (this was where Howard Dean, a far leftie himself, got it correct). GET THE DAMN VOTE OUT. SHOW UP. VOTE. STOP THE REPUBLICANS AND THEIR UBERRICH OWNERS NOW.

    Otherwise this nation dies within five years. I shit you not.

    Pardon my Swedish.

    • BJonthegrid

       /  April 7, 2011

      I found this very inspiring!

      • Mary

         /  April 7, 2011

        Yeah, me too. PaulW, you do know there are Democrats sitting in congress who don’t have your heart, right? I’d trade you for any one of ‘em.

    • JosephFM

       /  April 7, 2011

      So let’s start running some Democrats who can act like Republicans. I WANT a party that refuses to compromise at all and instead keeps making harsher demands. If the Republicans want a war, we should GIVE them a war.

      But that’s not going to happen, because the Democrats are just owned by a rival faction of uber-rich folks whose interests are closer to those of the Republicans than to yours and mine.

      • rootless_e

         /  April 7, 2011

        It’s not going to happen because there is no constituency for it. You have to persuade a large number of people to agree with you. And they don’t.

      • I would really like to see more Democrats who can muster the kind of party discipline and loyalty that the GOP has, but a refusal to compromise and ever escalating demands won’t help. A backbone is one thing (and one thing the Democrats occasionally seem to lack, I will freely admit), but a refusal to compromise is simply not useful. I continue to think that there’s a way to advance our causes without denying much of what I consider simple human morality.

        • Mary

           /  April 7, 2011

          I don’t think it’s that Democrats lack backbone. I think it’s that too many of the elected democrats are really fairly conservative and vote with Republicans. Maybe their constituants are fairly conservative and they are afraid of loosing the job. Maybe they are beholden to big contributors. I don’t know. But I do know if Obama had been able to work with a majority democratic house and senate that behaved, to a member, like democrats he would have been able to escape some compromises.

          I don’t know what you do but try to reach out to the voters. Get them to see where their own best interests actually lie. Get them to be less cynical about parties. I hear from an awful lot of people who think both parties exist only to perpertuate their own ambitions, and have nothing to offer the voter at all. Some of the people voted into congress in the last wave sound as if they are not very developed in terms of understanding out the legislative bodies work, how to skillfully craft legislation and deals by working with opposing forces and using persuasion. I wonder if some of these folks ever had a civics class. I get the disquieting feeling that I’d do a better job as a congressperson than they would. And these people with no political depth and not tuteledge are voted in because voters are so cynical that they really think ignorance and bellicosity are virtues.

          I don’t want to see more harshness from the dems. I’m not interested in seeing my society devolve into street clashes. I’d like to see more sophistocation and depth from the voter and the politicians. Unfortunately I think we may have to start with basic civics education in the schools, which kind of means we’ve got to chuck out the civics educators who’ve been doing a bad job up to this point and get them replaced and then we’ve got to wait a good 10 years or so for the newly educated to start voting.

          • Your last graph pretty much sums up exactly how I feel! Sadly, I fear that the next 10 years will not be kind to either our educational system or our nation’s civics classes.

    • gn

       /  April 9, 2011

      And I’d just like to note that Greenwald has no real proof that the administration is torturing Manning. In fact, PJ Crawley stated outright that Manning is not being tortured, and Manning’s own father stated that his son looks good, and the dad’s only complaint arose from an incident lifted from the defense attorney’s filings.

      In short, the torture accusation is looking to be a fabrication.

      Thank you for your comment, which was stellar.

      • Mary

         /  April 9, 2011

        Yeah, but what’s the definition of torture. I don’t think for a moment the guy is being water-boarded, seriously deprived of sleep or having the soles of feet beaten. But lengthy solitary confinement for some personalities, other exposures to circumstances of extreme humiliation.. it may not really fit the definition of torture but I think it can be legitimately construed as cruel and unusual. I think it is likely the guy could be singled out for treatment not meted out to other prisoners because the prison authorities disaprove of his giving info to Wiki leaks and I don’t think we should choose to over that sort of thing in a society that we like to boast of as a ‘just’ one.

  8. CitizenE

     /  April 7, 2011

    There isn’t much hope whatever one thinks of O now–the lunatics, controlling only one house of the legislative branch and out of power in the Presidency, will dictate the terms–the extreme nutcase fringe. In the two years since he’s become President, Michelle Bachman, not Michelle Obama, has become a serious mover and shaker in the ideology of Americana. The one thing I am clear about, however, is this, the one thing that the President will never compromise on is war or any of its attendant issues. He will cave on domestic issues, issue after issue, but war…there must be a Nobel Peace Prize given out premptively for it.

    To say he has been the most progressive President since FDR is too truly overlook LBJ. His health care program was to the right of Richard Nixon. He in many ways cedes the basis of the national argument, not just the particulars, and therein lies the most cogent criticism I have of him–I call it the bullied pulpit.

    And he does not level with the American public, but rather often throws down a line of transparent political bs. He is better than the entire Republican party and a hundred times better than the entire Tea Party movement–so? He well may be an excellent bureaucrat, but he is not, nor has been, change our national populace believe in. He has allowed the national debate to be framed by lunatics farther to the right than George Bush; he missed a mighty opportunity; it’s gone–bomb, bomb, bomb Muammar Gaddafi.

    And the base has been consistently left out of his public stances; he takes the base for granted, a base that gave him an excellent honeymoon given his policies with regard to the middle east, human rights, and those advisors he hired to take care of business. The base is his backstreet girl; if you want to know why the base is disillusioned, it is because on every issue, they are not invited to the table, except to feed on the scraps that fall therefrom. Safe nukes, clean coal–take your pick. Wall Street was saved, but with each day of his administration, those who rallied behind him from Main St. in 2008 are finding that the disenfranchisement we felt previous to his campaign has come back with a vengeance.

    Barack Obama has become the lesser, albeit by far, of two evils; I will say that for him. I will vote for him in 2012, but I will not send his campaign hundreds of dollars.

    • I hear you. I do. In some regards, I even agree, even if in smaller measure. And I did miss the LBJ thing, absolutely.

      But you did see the “80% of Democrats approve of the President’s job performance,” right? I’m not sure how those who don’t approve get exclusive title to the term “the base,” while I and 80% of the rest of the Democrats do not.

      • One thing to keep in mind is that, in contrast to the GOP, which is composed mostly of (self-identifying) conservatives, the Democrats include a sizable number of liberals, moderates, AND conservatives. Here is the breakdown according to Gallup last year:

        Dems:
        19% Conservative, 39% moderate, 40% liberal

        GOP:
        4% liberal, 23% moderate, 72% conservative

        Currently, 74% of liberals approve of Obama’s job performance–which is a significant decline from last year (when it was at 88%).

      • CitizenE

         /  April 7, 2011

        You asked about disaffection from the base, and as such I believed you meant those referred to as such, among the progressive wing. I don’t really know much about polls, but I do not hear very much enthusiasm for the President these days. Every once in a while on a progressive blog, I read about the litany of Nancy Pelosi’s legislative accomplishment, ascribed to the President in a blog such as this, but most of the people I know are registered Democrats, and I cannot remember the last time I heard a bunch of huzzah in his direction; a lot of griping about the right, sure, and it presents the question how come if there is so much widespread disaffection for the right our President has been unable or unwilling to make an easy case to a ready audience. Maybe, there are bunch of Dems out there at a Dem watering hole, saying that Barack Obama is doing a bang up job, but I have not run across them myself.

        • Yes, it is pretty remarkable that the Obots fail to recognize Pelosi’s work in gathering together all 60 Democratic Senators, right, left, and center, to break the unprecedented number of filibusters.

          One of the great ironies of the left’s professional bellyachers (to borrow a phrase once used by a Reagan aide to describe conservative critics of the administration) is that they criticize Obama (rightly in my view) for his expansions of executive power, then in the next breath essentially blame him for failing to act like a dictator on the legislative front.

          • CitizenE

             /  April 8, 2011

            A. I am not sure if your tongue is in your cheek, but Pelosi was House Speaker, not Senate Majority Leader.

            B. My biggest non professional heartache and headache with President Obama has to do with his inability to follow through on the issues that got him elected by engaging the American public as he did during his campaign; I particularly recall how I felt when he noted that the Republican party would have to pay for the ditch they had driven the nation into. Instead, he has ceded the field to the pitchfork community and the Elmer Gantrys that stir them up with the moneyed backing of the Illuminati (I am, just in case, speaking metaphorically here).

            Rather than engaging the populace–especially those in populations previously marginalized in Federal elections, he has opted for extreme moderation (on everything but bailing out Wall Street, military adventurism, and human rights abuse). Part of the role of the Presidency is to lead and engage. What made his campaign so heartening was how much of it was built on twenty dollar contributions by people.

            The issue here is not that the Republicans should act like “grown ups,” but that their economic policies–tax, trade, and wage policies–and military adventurism, best signified during the Bush era by the trillion dollar housing and insurance scam and the other multi billion dollar tax-bilking war profiteering debacle in Iraq–that they are threatening to reinstate with a vengeance will make the economic catastrophe of the Bush years look like chump change in future years. There has never been economic class warfare in our nation’s history been proposed (and accepted as “serious”) as is occurring in today’s budget brouhaha. What is being treated as significant is nothing short of a permanent working underclass making up the majority of our population into perpetuity. These folks making these proposals are scoundrels and should be exposed as such. This making nice with one’s enemies while disregarding one’s supporters is a symptom of the President’s inability, whatever his virtues as a hardworking, intelligent bureaucrat, to either anticipate the flow of events or demonstrate that he really can rise to the demands of history.

            • It wasn’t tongue-in-cheek, it was sarcastic.

              One of my all-time favorite political quotes is from Mario Cuomo: “You campaign in poetry, you govern in prose.” The amount of people on both sides of the spectrum who can’t grasp that concept continues to astounds me.

              • CitizenE

                 /  April 8, 2011

                Well, all I can say is history will show that the President failed to sufficiently engage the support of the American populace in enacting what he proposed when he got elected. Forgive me for actually hoping or believing the fierce urgency of now was anything more than the flimsy poetry of campaign rhetoric. I will never in the brief time I have left again hope that a President of the United States will be anything more than a tool for the economic forces that rule the world at the expense of people as so many I knew assured me when I tried to rally them to his support during the election.

                Such is the prose of it that this President’s inability with a clear electoral majority at his back and people dancing in the streets world wide at his election to do anything more than two years into it give up the argument, with only Planned Parenthood to speak on his behalf. And forgive my cynicism if I believe that many of his apologists would, if he were a Republican instead of Democratic President, howl to the heavens about many of the same policies for which they say oh we couldn’t do anything about that clear minority in the Senate, they were just too powerful. Ah, “was ever a woman in this humour woo’d?… And yet to win her, all the world to nothing! Ha!”

                • I hate to break it to you, but history really doesn’t give a damn how the president’s actions while in office differed from what he promised on the campaign trail. Does anyone but a few historians care that FDR in 1932 promised to balance the budget, or that in 1940 he said he wouldn’t send American boys to fight foreign wars? On occasion, something incredibly blatant, like “Read my lips, no new taxes,” can inspire a base revolt that gets remembered by the history books, but the vague bellyaching by some progressives now about hopey-changey rhetoric and pink unicorns is not likely to overshadow the measurable fact that Obama fulfilled more campaign promises in his first two years of office than any other recent president did in their entire presidency. Decades from now, history books will be talking about what Obama did and what were the long-term results, not how closely or not it matched his campaign rhetoric.

                  • CitizenE

                     /  April 8, 2011

                    It is the long term upon which he will have failed. The economic policies we are about to embark on, the whole way of governance being conducted are headed in one direction and one only. Yes all that hopey changey rhetoric we are bellyaching about, the only thing that can bring someone to the polls to elect him. Al Gore had better ideas than Barack Obama, so did John Kerry, but they could not get elected.

                    I hate to break it to you, but we are engaged actively in two wars, and still somewhat engaged in another–we are draining our national treasury to support these wars, the blood of our children is on our hands, and no one, not a person except those family members of the soldiers involved gives a shit one way or the other–this is the death of great nations throughout history. And no American politician has stood up and demanded that we pay a war tax to support our troops, certainly not our President who sees fit to conduct these wars. We have seen major disasters in the energy industry, first in the oil industry, and second in the nuclear industry, and one of the first things to go in this budget without much ado is real investment in addressing our energy and environmental problems. So you can apologize till you’re blue in the face and talk about his accomplishments, when FDR, who was also hated, spoke well into his administration, people listened and regularly. When was the last time you read one of the President’s emails?

                    Polls state the American public wants the tax code to change vis a vis corporations and the elite 1%. Polls even indicate people want better health care via public option. The President cannot even deliver on what the people want. I hate to break it to you: there is something rotten in the state of Denmark, and all the apologies for the President that you wish to toss out there will not change that. I know people from all walks of life, economic classes, age and ethnic differences who voted for President Obama, centrist Dems and leftist Dems, and everyone of them has expressed to me greater and lesser degrees of disillusionment with him. He is, I’ll say it again, at best an excellent bureaucrat, at worst, a seemingly unprincipled and typical as such politician. Perhaps you missed his address on Libya, but if you did not, what about the hundred other nations where we turn a blind eye, where he turns a blind eye? Anyone who can look me in the eye and throwdown oxymorons such as safe nukes or clean coal either is vastly misinformed–Fukishima, mon amour, or a politician. When one looks at this budget and the way the terms of the debate, and I am not talking about the particulars–they are horrible and any liberal who tells me different ought to ask him or herself just how much bullshit are you willing to swallow–but the frame work of the debate, we are back to the future of Reaganomics with a vengeance. That’s what we will settle for on President Obama’s watch while the Presidency and the Senate are still in the hands of the Democratic party. This line of thinking presupposes that the Tea Party movement is a majority movement, not a lunatic fringe. I want my President to lead, for Godsakes. Maybe if things get bad enough as a result of these two years, he will be reelected with the same kinds of majorities he squandered in the first two years, and he will accomplish great things, but I am afraid after watching the way he frames our national discussions of issues, that he has already subverted that possibility.

                    Barack Obama is not FDR, so far he is not even Bill Clinton. Right now, he looks a bit more like Jimmy Carter, a very underrated President to be sure, who brokered Camp David and did not invade foreign soil once during his administration, who foresaw the energy crisis way back when, and was toasted for caving to the right, and roasted by the right in the subsequent election. The only real hope for averting all that is a lack of a good song and dance man waiting in the Republican wings.

                    So stop talking to me as if I am in fantasyland: we are at war in the middle east; Gitmo, domestic spying all cool, the crimes against humanity of the previous administration–all cool, let’s not make any waves here, get along to go along; we have no energy program; the tax codes are the same as they were under George Bush; health care costs are going up not down, and we are witnessing the dismantling of just about every little thing we might gain as a result of the bill some time in the unknown future vis a vis health care; we are running 10% unemployment and counting; our minority communities and youth are suffering at a depression era rate; state after state is going broke, public service employees–our educators, our police–towns in California actually closing down their police forces, our firefighters–are being sytematically broken down–two years after the staunchest conservatives were lamenting their abject impotency. If this is success, then god forbid failure. But I am the one wanting unicorns.

                    • >Al Gore had better ideas than Barack Obama, so did John Kerry, but they could not get elected.

                      Oh, bull. Gore was a centrist Democrat, one of the founders of the DLC. But because of his work on climate change and his early opposition to the Iraq War, he has become a hero among progressives, who seem infinitely forgiving about his less-than-progressive past (such as the fact that it was he, not Lee Atwater, who initiated the attacks on Dukakis’s furlough program). Kerry was a DLC man and deficit hawk who supported the Iraq invasion before it became unpopular. It never ceases to amaze me how superficial so many progressives are when choosing their heroes. It’s the same with Howard Dean, moderate Vermont governor who became a progressive icon based purely on his vocal early opposition to the Iraq War.

                      The idea that any of these pols, were they to have become president in 2009, would have given us a Krugman-size stimulus and a substantially more progressive health-care bill, is pure fantasy. Probably they wouldn’t have even tried. Not even a true progressive like Dennis Kucinich or Bernie Sanders could have done it, not because they don’t believe in these things, but because they would have been presiding over a Congress that simply won’t allow it. Your bringing up Pelosi before reveals your fundamental naivete about the way government works. Pelosi was a wonderful speaker, but compared with Reid and Obama she had it easy: she wasn’t forced by the GOP’s unprecedented use of the filibuster loophole to gather together 60% of the House. Even for the six some months in which Dems enjoyed a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, Reid and Obama had to contend with conservadems like Nelson and drama queens like Lieberman. Had they followed the advice of progressive purists, the bill would have gone down to defeat a lot quicker than you can say “public option.” And no, no single-payer elixir would have magically appeared in its place.

                      >So you can apologize till you’re blue in the face and talk about his accomplishments

                      I haven’t apologized at all. I’m appalled by Obama’s civil-liberties record, I have long supported full, immediate withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, and his Libya decision has left me completely baffled. But I don’t turn a blind eye to his accomplishments either, which however you cut it are immense. You’re the apologist here–the apologist for all-or-nothing purism.

                      >we are at war in the middle east; Gitmo, domestic spying all cool, the crimes against humanity of the previous administration–all cool, let’s not make any waves here, get along to go along; we have no energy program

                      We also prevented a recession from turning into a Depression, enacted historical health-care legislation, reformed of the financial industry, initiated nuclear disarmament, and ended DADT–altogether a greater series of accomplishments than anything Clinton did in his entire presidency. But since the glass in your world is always one-eighth empty, none of this counts.

                      >health care costs are going up not down

                      Um…you do realize most the HCR bill wasn’t set to take effect now?

                      >and we are witnessing the dismantling of just about every little thing we might gain as a result of the bill some time in the unknown future vis a vis health care

                      Last I knew, 2014 isn’t “some time in the unknown future.”

                      >we are running 10% unemployment

                      Actually, 8.8% and apparently dropping. But you don’t have to let small details like that get in the way of your argument.

                      >Barack Obama is not FDR

                      That’s true. But much of the left at the time gave FDR no more credit for his accomplishments than their successors do for Obama today. He was attacked by many contemporaries for handling the economic crisis too weakly, for caving to big business, and for not pushing economic redistribution strongly enough. Sen. James A. Reed referred to Roosevelt as a “hired man for the economic royalists” in Wall Street. One follower of Father Coughlin (who started out on the left) wrote to the President, “I know the truth and the truth is you have deceived the working man…and favored the big Business and Huge Corporations and let the Poor Working Man go starving, or go to Hell. I loved you and you have betrayed.” These themes were echoed by a variety of critics, particularly Huey Long, who assailed Roosevelt as beholden to big business and no different a president than Hoover.

                      As for Roosevelt’s handling of HCR, I turn to Wikipedia:

                      “During the Great Depression in 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Isidore S. Falk and Edgar Sydenstricter to help draft provisions to Roosevelt’s pending Social Security legislation to include publicly funded health care programs. These reforms were attacked by the American Medical Association as well as state and local affiliates of the AMA as ‘compulsory health insurance.’ Roosevelt ended up removing the health care provisions from the bill in 1935.”

                      I don’t know how Obama will be judged in the future–he still hasn’t completed his presidency–but I do know that presidents never live up to the expectations of their supporters, and what I have noticed is that a lot of people–his supporters as well as his detractors–hold Obama up to unreasonably, unrealistically high expectations. There are many things he has done worthy of criticism, but on a lot of other matters, such as health-care and stimulus, progressives blame him for things that were simply not within his control, and refuse to acknowledge how much he accomplished within those constraints. He is not a dictator, he does not have godlike powers to make Congress do his bidding, and it is not his fault that the right that has recently seized the House has gone off-the-cliff and made it hard for him–or any other Democrat who might have occupied the White House–to govern. This is not apologetics but a realistic assessment of the current situation. I think in many ways our current system of government sucks, and that is the most salient fact about the situation we are in, not which Democrat captured the White House in 2008.

                  • CitE & Kylopod:

                    I appreciate that both of you are passionate and that we all three of us have history together, and I really appreciate that you’re here talking about this.

                    But please make sure you can maintain a respectful discourse with each other, in spite of obvious disagreements.

                    • I didn’t see your response before I posted my latest one. If it is not respectful enough, I apologize.

                      I will let CitizenE have the last word.

  9. CitizenE

     /  April 7, 2011

    I want to add a couple more things. The current tax code is less progressive than that of everyone since I don’t know Calvin Coolidge? except George Bush. Bill Clinton, a well known centrist, who faced both houses under a contract on America had a more progressive tax policy. Make no mistake, it is the economy, stupid. And two years after he enters office, we are about to have a huge constriction on government services, without so much as a dime raised from tax revenues upon those who have just robbed America blind, deaf, and silly, the very ones the rest of America just bailed out as they ran off with untold billions if not trillions. I am reminded of Shakespeare’s Richard III, who upon convincing the Lady Anne, that his love was worthy of her favor, despite murdering her beloved husband and father says:

    Was ever woman in this humour woo’d?
    Was ever woman in this humour won?
    I’ll have her; but I will not keep her long.
    What! I, that kill’d her husband and his father,
    To take her in her heart’s extremest hate,
    With curses in her mouth, tears in her eyes,
    The bleeding witness of her hatred by;
    Having God, her conscience, and these bars
    against me,
    And I nothing to back my suit at all,
    But the plain devil and dissembling looks,
    And yet to win her, all the world to nothing!
    Ha!

  10. sherifffruitfly

     /  April 7, 2011

    Simple question: are the anti-Obama “progressives” pretty close to all-white?

    • rootless_e

       /  April 8, 2011

      i think there’s some race to it, but the Cornell West/Tavis Smiley etc. axis proves that class has something to do with it too. A number of people who earned status/money from being a representative of various groups that never got anywhere but claimed to represent some sort of movement and finds themselves on the sidelines while team Obama gets things done seem resentful.

    • CitizenE

       /  April 8, 2011

      What I would ask of anyone who asks these questions is how are the President’s policies playing out in non-white and poorer communities? Has crime gone down? Education improved? Health care more accessible and less expensive? More or less people employed in relation to national averages? The housing debacle of the Bush years in any way assuaged? Have the people’s economic situations improved by comparison with those on Wall Street, whom they helped bail out? He is a mighty symbol, a smart, personable individual, and his wife and family also. But day in and day out, has his Presidency made a difference in the nuts and bolts of people’s lives? Is the symbolism he has proffered upon those communities been equal to the more nuts and bolts setbacks immediately affecting the actual lives of people?

  11. william g. johnson

     /  April 9, 2011

    I am a lifelong Democrat. I am 52. I had been a Democratic committeeman for over a year when “the adults” noticed that I was only 17 years old. Apart from eight yrs of military service, I have been active at all levels of Democratic campaigns. I am beyond disappointed. I am past debate. Obama will now compromise away Social Security, Medicare, and Veterans Benefits. I frankly no longer care about reproductive choice, minority rights, etc. Obama has lost any moral authority to speak to me about any of these. I agree. I am NOT the base. Perhaps, if I contribute to the Tea Partiers, they will forgive my lifetime of Democratic activism. I doubt they can exceed the scorn of my former party. BTW, how does it feel to get thrown under the bus?

    • Mary

       /  April 9, 2011

      Hold on a minute though.. look at the game changing happening here. We are fighting to protect liberal ideas and programs anymore.. we are now in a position where we have to fight to protect centrist, main stream ideas and programs.
      There was just a vote in the house to reject the FCC’s net neutraility rules. There were some democratic votes behind that. Who ARE these guys, the republicans in democrat’s clothing? It’s not Obama who is our problem, it’s the blue-dogs who are selling him and the party out.

      I don’t know if it would help to have an actual, viable socialist party in the US or not. I think very few people have any idea of what a socialist really looks like.

      Maybe we do need 3 parties: left, right, center. I will say the Democrats will not be the natural inheritors to the leftist party, but rather of the centrist.. if they can even manage to defend that in the present time.

    • I hear your anger and I appreciate your passion, but I made clear just above that I do not feel thrown under any bus, and my impression — from polls, not blog reading — is that most Democrats don’t. 100% satisfied? No, not on your life. Thrown under a bus? Not by any stretch.

  12. biznesschic

     /  April 9, 2011

    Great article. There is a ground swell of those who are beginning to feel the same way. As an African American, we don’t have the luxury as white entitled progressives to stomp our feet and take our ball home, when we don’t get our way. However, guess who bares the blunt of their petulance? African Americans.

    Who disproportionally went to war in Iraq, because Michael Moore and all decided that Al Gore was not progressive enough? African Americans.

    Who suffered more in the economic downturn? African Americans.

    Who suffered more in this current budget cut, in which the professional left told Dems to stay home during 2010? DC, African Americans.

    No more. I am ditching the progressive name and declaring myself once again a liberal independent. And I am sending notice to the Eds, the Rachels, the Firebaggers, and the Salons, that we will no longer be used as pawns during an election, only to be cast aside, after we vote.

    • I think I understand what you’re saying — as a white woman, my understanding can only be cerebral, but I try — but I want to make sure that we don’t engage here in the same kind of broadbrush stereotyping that I see in so many places on the web.

      I mean, you’re angry with white progressives, but here you are, complimenting the post of a white progressive — a white progressive who crossposts, no less, at a blog called “Angry Black Lady Chronicles,” with the woman who runs the blog, a black progressive, along with an Asian progressive and another white progressive.

      I do not doubt that there is actual racism at play in many Democratic discussions about this President — but I don’t think it’s there in all the discussions, not even all the discussions among people who are really angry and disappointed.

      • william g. johnson

         /  April 9, 2011

        I think you missed my point. To elaborate: “How do you feel about my throwing you under the bus?” I have reached my limit with a party that is little more than a collection of “identity groups,” and bargains away my family’s economic future. I live in a state where voter registration is non-partisan. Both parties carefully track voter’s party affiliation by scoring contributions, primary voting history, etc. I know from experience working in Democratic campaigns that the fastest way to change that score is to contribute to the most radical right wing candidates and causes out there (even with small dollars). Because of Obama’s “leadership,” I believe the other side will win. And they are vindictive. I am, in fact, a white, christian, heterosexual, veteran, and a liberal. Barack Obama doesn’t want to be seen in my camp because I am a liberal. I can fix that. The other side may prove welcoming.

        • biznesschic

           /  April 10, 2011

          Just proved my point. You are special enough, to doom the least of us. Let me let you in on a secret. OBAMA WILL DO JUST FINE, IF NOT ELECTED AGAIN. He will write books, go on the lecture tour, win awards, and become a billionaire. You, on the other hand, will have your money stolen again by Wall Street, lose your job, and send your children to war with Iran. Ha, you will show him. Your sense of entitlement would make you vote against your own economic interest. Welcome to the world of teabaggery, you fit right in.

          • Please see the comment I left you above.

          • william g. johnson

             /  April 10, 2011

            To reiterate, my sense of entitlement kicks in when I confront the near certainty (based on Obama’s track record) that he will now acquiesce in dismantling Social Security, Medicare, and Veterans Benefits. Those are fundamental to the social contract. If those are “on the table,” then I owe you nothing, irregardless of your struggles against racism, sexism, anti-semitism, or whatever. Of course Wall St will steal again (Obama’s done nothing to deter them), I may lose my job (but it won’t be because of my advocacy for the Democratic Party), and I expect Obama to go to war with Iran. None of the above is any reason to stand with you; nor are your insults. And you know virtually nothing about me (beyond demographics). Yet you feel ENTITLED to my support.

      • biznesschic

         /  April 10, 2011

        I post of a “white” progressive page, because I am a Democrat. It is the same unwelcoming feelings that POC have about white progressives, until you need us at the election booth. No more, earn our vote.

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