Friday, September 3, 2010

Don't Dis the Dems....

... not now, when there's so much at stake. Remember how we liberal folk liked to scoff at Reagan's "eleventh commandment"? Thou shalt not speak ill of thy fellow Republican? Take a look in the rear view mirror and note how the Republicans have taken this seriously (it's a shame they took the rest of Reaganism seriously too, or we wouldn't be in the mess we are now!) Note, too, that it has resulted in the rigid party unity that now successfully hamstrings the whole country.

Successful strategy? You bet! Yet here we go again, we Democrats, gleefully assaulting each other at every opportunity and undermining every effort by our own administration to get anything done. And it's not only the Democrats in Congress. It's we, the people out here in voter-land. Every day I hear and read this indignant, self-important, self-destructive screed from bloggers, acquaintances, even friends who should know better. Just yesterday I heard--from a fellow Democrat and one who, I believe, believes as I do--that Obama is a "warmonger." That he's a "politician," no different from the others who disappoint our lofty ideals.

Well, yeah! Big surprise! Had he not been a politician, he would never have been elected. As for the "warmonger" part, it seems to me naive in the extreme to expect immediate departure from all parts of the world where we have stirred the hornets' nest of violence and hatred--directed, for the most part, against ourselves. (It's not paranoia: they are out to get us!) My own instinct is to believe that Obama loathes war as much as I do. That, if he could, he would bring our fighting forces home tomorrow; deliver universal health care overnight; devote the federal money needed to stimulate our desperately ailing economy; and without delay divert the funds needed into our education system, into job creation and justice, earth stewardship, world peace...

Have these people who carp at Obama bothered to read either one--or both--of his books? Have they really taken the trouble to find out who this man is? Not a superhero, certainly. Not a Messiah. Nor a witch-doctor or mircle-maker. And certainly a politician. Granted. The man's a pragmatist. Advertised himself as such, never claimed to be anything but. He weighs what can be done and does his best to get the result he wants. That he faces sullen and implacable opposition from the "loyal opposition" makes it hard to get those results. That he faces a lack of solidarity in his own party makes it nigh impossible. It amazes me that he has managed to achieve as much as he has done, these past twenty months or so--achievements that are sniffed at or ignored by those who believe they know better.

No one is, or should be, above criticism. Like others who believe as I do, I would want faster and more tangible results. I want, particularly, an end to war. But we left-leaning people elected this man to do precisely what he said he would attempt to do, and many of us now join in the chorus of those who would destroy him simply because he has not been able to do it fast enough to satisfy our high-minded expectations. I want to scream when I hear these nay-sayers and lofty idealists say that Obama and the Democrats will deserve the loss they can expect to be handed in November--as though they themselves have no responsibility.

I say, these people will be as much to blame for an electoral defeat as those they choose to heap their blame upon. I happen to deplore the lock-step discipline of Republican lawmakers and Republican voters alike. I happen to disagree fundamentally with their positions... and fear their (to me incomprehensible) power. But on my side of the political fence, I see nothing to be happy about. Will those who are now so dissatisfied be content when we end up with a Republican-dominated Congress? Will they relish the vindication of their own opinions and predictions? The spectacle of Obama rendered effectively and truly powerless is the one that haunts me much more than the spectacle of Obama struggling against the odds to achieve a modicum of success.

There's a certain satisfaction in believing in one's own moral rectitude; in standing by one's ideals no matter what. Unfortunately, we seem to have reached a historical moment when the "art of the possible" is severely reduced by the press of rigid and irreconcilable differences. If we fail to be realistic, if we fail to achieve the solidarity we need to move forward, I fear we we all be a good deal sorrier than we are today. We must learn to moderate our rhetoric and take a broader, more realistic view of things if we are to inch forward, ever so slowly, into a viable future for this country. That "change we can believe in" will not happen with the wave of a magician's wand.

6 comments:

mandt said...

Moderating 'our' rhetoric is not an American trait or virtue. "The man's a pragmatist" in regard to rhetoric I would say pragmatism and mediocrity are their own reward, which is to say in times of historic transition, when the zeitgeist calls for greatness, Obama ofters paltry solutions. Obama, like Clinton; lacks the essential ingredient that can impede or halt the slide of America into fascism, and that is heroic greatness. Despite the gleam of Obama's sincere, narcissistic autobiographies he does not 'walk the talk.' At best he might be said to channel his inner Marcus Aurelius. Aurelius, thoughtful, brilliant and eloquent was still the master of an unyielding, brutal, viscious empire. Still, it might be considered a revolutionary act to vote Democrat against all odds to delay the inevitable.

roger said...

i'll respectfully disagree. i think he deserves all the opprobrium heaped on him and more. torture is now accepted national policy. the too big to fail banks are loaned money by the fed at close to zero percent interest and they turn right around and buy tbills at 3% or more. nice. can i get some of that? warrantless wiretapping goes on. whoop-de-do we got "mandated health insurance" as "reform." we have no more rule of law than we did with bush, either one. he will get some respect from me when he stands up publicly and loudly for his own advertised principles and for someone other than big business. and how about that alan simpson that he appointed to the commission to kill social security and medicare.

yes he is a politician. no better than most. "marginally better than republicans" isn't good enough.

roger said...

i see mandt beat me to it. right on guys!

WITTY WALKERS said...

Brave stuff Peter...keep it up.
Michael

PeterAtLarge said...

Thanks for these comments, which certainly made me think. As usual, the results of my thinking appear in a new entry on the blog...

Walter said...

I volunteered for Obama's campaign here in Chico California in 2008. I never felt more inspired by a Presidential candidate since Robert Kennedy. I don't agree with some of those on the left who say that Obama is a warmonger, a sellout, or someone who doesn't care about poor people. I also never expected Obama to be a Messiah or a witch-doctor or miracle-maker. However I do strongly believe that President Obama has not been strong enough in fighting for his programs. He is much to conciliatory towards the Congressional Republicans who simply want to bring him down. FDR, JFK, and LBJ never would have tolerated this. The economic stimulus package that Obama got passed is quite a bit smaller than it should have been because he and the Democrats didn't have 60 votes to pass a better bill in the Senate, when in fact the Senate Democrats have the power to abolish filibusters. The Vice President also can issue a ruling abolishing it. So while the stimulus package might be the biggest program putting people to work since the New Deal or the Great Society of the 1960's and while it put a lot of people to work who otherwise are not working, considering the dire circumstances now it is not enough. Obama should not have allowed the Senate Republicans to filibuster passage of more stimulus legislation and aid to local and state governments. Also I realize that Obama got the biggest piece of health care legislation passed since Medicare was enacted in 1965, but unfortunately too many people will not benefit from that until 2014. What President Obama should have done was to fight to get Medicare(using the term Medicare as everyone knows what Medicare is) extended to everyone which would have included dental, vision, and prescriptions. Had Obama seen to it that Congress adopted larger programs to reduce unemployment and extending Medicare to everyone, with at least a somewhat improved economy the Democrats would be in position to actually gain Congressional seats rather than be losing seats. These pieces of legislation should have been adopted with no filibuster allowed. The Democrats unfortunately blew a great opportunity. The Republicans having moved so far to the right, should be an irrelevant party now. In regards to the high unemployment and the poor economy, it's not enough for the Democrats to blame Bush. When conditions are bad, people blame the current party that holds power. Still I hope that Democrats and working people turn out to vote this November and hopefully with the Republicans being so far out in right field, Democratic loses will be at a minimum and that most of those loses will be conservative blue dogs who haven't supported their President or party anyway. Perhaps if we have a slimmer but meaner Democratic majority, more will get done in the next couple of years.