Archive for the ‘Rahm Emmanuel’ tag
I am getting sick and tired of pundits asking rhetorically, as Chris Matthews did today, “What more do progressives want?” in reference to the so called “enthusiasm gap”. Democratic turnout is supposed to be depressed this year, in contrast with the Republican Tea party, whose voters are said to be lining up to vote like techno geeks waiting to buy the latest toy from Apple. In recent weeks, the President, the Vice-president and all the President’s surrogates have taken to lecturing Democrats to “buck up” and vote because it is too important not to.
Somehow all this exhortation gets translated into the Democrats and the Obama administration blaming progressives for not being supportive enough. Now one can’t get through an hour of cable news or the Sunday chats without hearing “What more do progressives want?” Progressives, you see are supposed to be happy and grateful for all the legislation passed by the Democratic congress and signed into law by the Democratic president. Things like the health care reform, financial regulation and the economic stimulus of 2009.
As I have indicated in previous posts, I am in fact disappointed with the Obama administration and the Congressional Democrats. But that’s OK. I am not a big D Democrat. I am a progressive (a socialist, really) but I almost always vote for whatever Democrat on the ballot. This year will be no different. I anticipate splitting my votes between the Green and Democratic parties. And I always vote. Even if I only have a ficus plant to vote for. I am not the problem. The people who might not vote are less interested in politics than your garden variety progressive blogger. You know, like the unemployed and working poor, some minorities, poor people, youth. Progressives would like to have seen the Dems do more to address the concerns of these groups and others, but we will still vote against the GOP.
And that’s the Democrats’ last resort in capturing the progressive vote. The other guys are worse. Way worse. Worse than ever.
So let me try to answer the question “What more do progressives want?” Maybe I’ll throw in (for free) a few things I, at least, did not and do not want.
For starters, I wanted anyone who committed war crimes on behalf of the U.S. government held accountable. Maybe not a prison sentence for W, but at least some acknowledgment that U.S. and International laws were violated and at least a hope that it would not happen again. I did not want to see Obama’s first Solicitor General (now a Supreme Court Justice) argue in Federal Court that, “the U.S. Government is completely immune from litigation for illegal spying — that the Government can never be sued for surveillance that violates federal privacy statutes.” That’s not what i voted for.
Of course, I wanted health care reform to include a single payer health insurance system. I knew it wasn’t politically doable, but the proposal and the argument should have and could have been made. Failing that I would like to have seen the President fight vigorously for the public option. Would a greater effort have changed the immediate outcome? I don’t know, but again, making the effort would at least have altered the debate, making future progress more likely. I certainly did not want to sere the President’s Chief of Staff (he (who must not be named), make backroom deals with big pharma and the health insurance companies.
Continuing the war in Afghanistan does not constitute a broken promise on Obama’s part, but his escalation there was a foolish step further into quick sand. Everyone knows we are wasting time, treasure and lives there, but the generals and the officer corps apparently need their war, or else how will they ever get combat experience and promotions. Some civilian control over the military would be nice, I think.
Finally, I hoped that the new administration would take decisive action to mitigate the effects of the recession that (ha ha) ended last year. Instead, Summers and Geitner made sure that the stimulus of 2009 was weakened.
Well, I have tried to explain to anyone who accidentally reads this some of what progressives have wanted and really continue to hope for. If the president or anyone on his staff should somehow hear about this I want them to know I hope it helps.
They say there are no atheists in foxholes. In the absence of evidence to support it I cannot believe this statement. They (actually Samuel Johnson) also say that the prospect of hanging in a fortnight concentrates
the mind wonderfully. This is true and for evidence view the recent behavior of President Obama and the Democrats.
Collectively (with a number of honorable exceptions), the Washington Democrats have spent the last two years poking progressives in the eye. Now suddenly, with an election disaster looming, the Dems want to buy everybody a drink – even the effing hippies.
But after alienating civil libertarians by continuing the Bush wiretap policies and not prosecuting war crimes; after alienating economic populists with a stimulus package that was too timid and by giving the economic portfolio to Geitner and Summers (two of many authors of the current depression); after campaigning on the public option and expressing support for single payer and then throwing bazillions at the heath insurance companies; after hearing Rahm Emmanuel belittle the “professional left’ and express an desire to have intercourse with a labor union (eff the UAW), is it too little too late?
Some at least on the (sorta) left are not buying. Chris hedges has a piece on truthdig titled Do Not Pity the Democrats. Hedges thinks the Dems should pay for being too far to the right since Obama’s inauguration.
We will, once again, be bombarded in this election cycle with messages of fear from the Democratic Party—designed, in the end, to serve corporate interests. “Better Barack Obama than Sarah Palin,” we will be told. Better the sane technocrats like Larry Summers than half-wits like John Bolton. But this time we must resist. If we express the legitimate rage of the dispossessed working class as our own, if we denounce and refuse to cooperate with the Democratic Party, we can begin to impede the march of the right-wing trolls who seem destined to inherit power. If we again prove compliant we will discredit the socialism we should be offering as an alternative to a perverted Christian and corporate fascism.
We do not have much time left. And the longer we refuse to confront corporate power the more impotent we become as society breaks down. The game of electoral politics, which is given legitimacy by the right and the so-called left on the cable news shows, is just that—a game. It diverts us from what should be our daily task—dismantling, piece by piece, the iron grip that corporations hold over our lives. Hope is a word that is applicable only to those who grasp reality, however bleak, and do something meaningful to fight back—which does not include the farce of elections and involvement in mainstream political parties. Hope is about fighting against the real forces of destruction, not chanting “Yes We Can!” in rallies orchestrated by marketing experts, television crews, pollsters and propagandists or begging Obama to be Obama. Hope, in the hands of realists, spreads fear into the black heart of the corporate elite. But hope, real hope, remains thwarted by our collective self-delusion.
Up to a point, I sympathize with Hedges. The Democrats remains compromised in their relationship with the nation’s corporate masters and have not earned progressive support. In fact the Party has sometimes seemed to disdain that part of the Democratic party base. Until now, after Labor Day in an election year.
The appointment of Elizabeth Warren, the populist tact on the Bush tax cuts, the attempt at least to communicate with progressives is welcome, but these would have been more welcome and more effective six months or a year ago.
So let the Democrats twist in the wind. Let them learn some life lessons at the hands of the Teabaggers. And there’s the rub. At the very least, Congressional Democrats can serve as a flimsy firewall against the excesses of the sociopathic GOP. So can Obama and the presidential veto. Therefore most on the left – activists, bloggers, people who read The Nation Salon and watch Maddow – will turn out to vote, but in many cases without any great hopes or sense of accomplishment.
As for me and my house, here in Illinois 18 I will probably vote for Democrat D.K. Hirner, as long as I am convinced she would not become a Blue Dog once elected (an admitted long shot this year). But I won’t vote early and often, and I hope there isn’t a Leafs game on Versus that night.