Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Why the most liberal president in a generation is driving some progressives bonkers

Just as President Obama is taking huge steps to walk back the imperial presidency and making tremendous strides on issues like health care reform and LGBT rights and ending the war on drugs and fighting to curb climate change and ending the perpetual war and taking on the NRA and fighting for immigration reform and trying to curb the rising costs of college tuition and proposing things like a minimum wage increase along with universal day care, there is a group of progressives who have gone absolutely bonkers with their conspiracy theories about him. As Bob Cesca points out this morning, many of them are are so deranged that they're staring to line up with tea party libertarians to destroy the Democratic Party.

Its no wonder that many of us are saying "WTH? Why now? You want to jump ship just when we're starting to make some progress?"

To be honest, I've been trying to understand this particular variety of Obama Derangement Syndrome for quite a while now. It doesn't speak well to the potential for what the late Sen. Paul Wellstone called "the democratic wing of the Democratic Party." Politically, that's where I've tended to find my "home" for years now. But I find that I have almost nothing in common with them these days.

The only thing I can make of it is that these folks never contemplated what it means to be on the inside of the political game as opposed to the outside. They got so used to being cynical about government that they don't know what it means to actually govern. So even when we've got someone in a power position on the inside, the cynicism prevails and their only recourse politically is a freefall into libertarianism.

Due to the fact that this is a really big country with lots of divergent views on politics combined with the fact that we still have at least the vestiges of a democratic republic, governing is always going to be about compromise and incremental steps towards change. If someone like Sen. Bernie Sanders could get elected president, much less actually govern when he got there, I suspect he would have given it a go by now. I'll at least give him credit for knowing better.

The other thing these folks seem to have missed is that they never learned the historical lesson about how outside activists have actually accomplished change. President Obama remembers:
Everyone who realizes what those glorious patriots knew on that day -- that change does not come from Washington, but to Washington; that change has always been built on our willingness, We The People, to take on the mantle of citizenship.
While they spend their time ranting about what President Obama has/has not done,  the real change agents in our past spent their time convincing the people that change was necessary. And eventually the politicians took note. As the saying goes..."when the people lead, the leaders will follow." That's how democracy works.

What I learned a few years ago from Al Giordano is that to be that kind of change agent is inglorious work often done in the trenches rather than in the spotlight. These folks thought President Obama was going to do it all for them. And when that road got difficult and strewn with too many compromises, they started abandoning ship. A moment in the sun (ie, on the Daily Kos recommended list LOL) with their ranting and raging was the alternative course they took.

Sometimes I can despair about what this means for the future of the "democratic wing of the Democratic Party." And then I remember the group President Obama was talking to here.



In addition to what he accomplishes in office to slowly turn this ship of state in a more progressive direction, they will be his legacy.

26 comments:

  1. I don't agree with you that these cynics represent the Democratic Party. They show up to meetings with ridiculous resolutions, or get their names on ballots in primaries, but when the real work of electing candidates and forming platforms needs to get done, they are nowhere to be found. Let's be clear here: these people didn't just descend into their free fall into Libertarianism. They were ALWAYS Libertarians. It's only now that we're finally learning how to identify their behavior and label it. It's only now that real live progress is being made that we can see how dissatisfied they still are and realize that they were never on our side. We thought they were on our side before because we had a couple social issues in common (gay rights and marijuana reform). Now that those issues are at long last seeing real progress, they are exposed to us as having another agenda all together. They've been amongst us and welcomed under our big tent. But I'm no longer willing to continue to extend that welcome to them. They won't be destroying the Democratic Party the way they're destroying the Republican Party. We see them.

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    1. Your comment is an important corrective to dealing with people like this: they aren't as many of them as their loudness seems to suggest.

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    2. Real Brother here. I agree with you Chris. White Supremacists on the fringe have never been elected because a radical on the left is just as dangerous as a Racist on the right. If Whites can get passed Obama's Race which I think they will in time only then will they learn how to Govern. If not look for America to be like South Africa with a succession of Black Moderate Presidents.
      TKCAL

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  2. These folks rarely do the hard work it takes to accomplish anything politically. Convening cocktail parties either to promote a candidate one never heard of or demand their peers not vote, they otherwise do almost nothing because "they are too good" to sully themselves voting for an imperfect (in their eyes) candidate. This is reflected in the fact that the Progressive Caucus is slightly over 14% of the entire Congress. Were their views even understood by citizens, that might change. But they believe they have no obligation to make their case, muster the facts, do the education that it takes to convince people of their views. They have contempt for the rest of us, so why should they bother. They are the Left equivalent of Barbara Bush dismissing the horrors of Hurricane Katrina treatment of victims saying she had 'a beautiful mind' that should not be soiled by thinking of those things. The Left does not wish to think of those things either. They are as good at blaming the victims as is the Right. In sum - they are useless polemicists given to blather because democracy is just too much work.

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  3. Victimhood is a drug for some of these folks. They thought President Obama would avenge them vicariously by tossing all the "banksters" in jail (whether or not it was clear that what some of the big banks did was actually illegal or just immoral -- due process for bin Laden and al-Awlaki, but not for bankers, I guess). And that he would just deliver tough-talking leftie-porn speeches 24/7, because in their view, talking tough is the same as action. (Bully Pulpit! You know, the same way that Bush's militaristic speeches swayed lefties to support the war -- oh wait, that didn't happen, so maybe that Magical Bully Pulpit just isn't all it's cracked up to be.)

    So when that didn't happen, they retreated into victimhood and martyrdom. Of course they needed a vicarious martyr, so enter Snow-wald. "See - we are TOO being oppressed!"

    Said it before, I'll say it again: thank god white "progressives" like the barking-mad ODS professional left (hey there, Sirota!) weren't in charge of the civil rights movement -- can you imagine these whiny jackasses facing down firehoses, dogs, bullets?

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    1. Kerry - they seriously TRIED to lead the Civil Rights movement. I saw it over and over. The White Messiahs saw themselves leading the poor, uneducated, ignorant Black folks out of bondage and bowing down to the White Leaders. When Black men and women told them to stuff it - the racism really ticked upwards from the Left. They were insulted, angered, and incredibly shocked that Black people did not NEED white people to lead. To help, yes. To direct? No. I was possessed of the same arrogance at 18. I was shut down at 19 by very gracious but clear Black women who put me wise. I respected them for their views and guidance. But I am in the minority who think my role in civil rights is to ask what people need and how I can help and NOT telling people what to do. The Emo Left has never gotten over their outrage and smug superiority. That is and remains a huge division, an even larger problem.

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  4. I like the way this post illustrates my point: The lefty libertarians and the righty libertarians are one in the same: http://thedailybanter.com/2013/09/how-drudge-assange-greenwald-and-the-pauls-are-unifying-under-the-neo-libertarian-banner/ They want to destroy both parties. I'll be spending my time politely asking them to leave the Democratic Party. There are plenty more votes to replace theirs out there. We're learning every day how to find those voters who aren't a bunch of radicals. So, Libertarians, worship your Paul god, carry your copy of Atlas Shrugged under your arm as you march victoriously into oblivion.

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    1. Aren't these the same people who were going on and on about Single-Payer or die? Now they are Randals?

      The truth is, they are against all government. They are Anarchists, and their only mission is to destroy government, no matter who runs it.

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    2. The fruits of narcissism run amok on all sides.

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  5. Cynicism towards government is, I think, the key here.

    I suspect that a lot of these people were raised in the age of Reagan and may have absorbed, by osmosis, the GOP talking point of the day that "government *is* the problem". Which, if you think about it, is a poisonous attitude to have if you honestly believe in a liberal program for America. Liberalism cannot work without an active government, yet the "progressives" of today seem to start with the assumption that government is no more trustworthy than big business.

    The next time you are in conversation with a "progressive" ask them this: why do they trust government to handle healthcare (assuming they support single-payer) when they believe that government can't be trusted to protect their privacy?

    If you start with the assumption that government is the enemy than is it any surprise that you can't seem to get the government to do what you want it to do?

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    1. I think you are giving them too much credit for cognition.

      I've decided that, when it comes to the Screaming Nothing Is Ever Good Enough Left, they, like their Teabagging brethren, prize feeling over facts. So good government isn't what's important -- it's some nebulous Great Daddy Figure saying awesome things that give them righteousgasms of justice -- never mind whether it leads to solid outcomes. Why else would they valorize do-nothing egotistical windbags like Grayson, Kucinich, Michael Moore, etc.?

      One of their key complaints is always that President Obama "neglects the base" or "punches hippies" (never mind that hippies -- i.e., white people typing boilerplate screeds on blogs, I guess -- are not and never HAVE been "the base" in Dem politics). Why? Because That Uppity POTUS doesn't let them write his speeches for them. (The way that Maddow did that ridiculous "SOTU that POTUS SHOULD deliver!" thing. Yeah, Rachel, you're smart and all, but get yourself elected to a local office and then I will take your armchair campaign management a tad seriously.)

      What the deranged addicted-to-anger lefties don't notice is that the GOP agreeably tosses out the red meat time after time to their own barking-mad "base" -- Human Life Amendment! Balanced Budget Amendment! Prayer in Schools! -- and doesn't really ever do anything on the national level to make those items come to pass. But hey -- they make the speeches about it, so who cares about policy?

      Whereas Obama does what he said he would do -- sign a healthcare law for universal coverage -- but because it didn't include a weak-tea public option (those two magic words that the Magpies of the Left brayed incessantly), he's a "sell-out." Yeah. The single biggest goal for social legislation -- one that had eluded even LBJ and FDR and JFK -- finally comes to pass, and these jerks can't wait to tear it down. Ugh. That is truly when I decided that most of the leftie commentariat and leftie academics are about as useful as tits on a boar when it comes to advancing progressive agenda items.

      I don't need a Big Strong Daddy Hero to go out there and kick those Mean Ole GOPers in the face for me so I can get a temporary vicarious thrill and make up for feeling like the kid who got bullied on the playground. I need somebody who gives a damn about governing.

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  6. Fantastic comments!!! Thank you all.

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  7. Don't forget to include Move.Org to the always unrealistic left brigade.

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  8. Some of it is a lack of respect. The liberal critics do not want to admit that Obama and team may actually know something they don't know or *gasp* have a superior solution. But most of it is just an utter failure to understand politics and governing. They do not understand the complexity of public policy and the legislative process. They want to wrap up all of their desires, fear and angst in a nice and neat package, President Barack Obama! Even if that means detached illogical hissy fits that have been going on since the primaries in 2007.

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  9. The far left is just the flip side of the far right, and no matter which side lands up when you toss that coin, you still get a patriarchal hierarchy -- I'm right-you're wrong mentality. I wish the far left would decide whether or not it likes government these days. If they're going to espouse libertarian philosophy, then they should call themselves libertarians.

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    1. I can understand right-libertarians a lot better than I understand left-libertarians. Libertarianism in practice leads to the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, and right-wingers see it as the natural order -- everyone settling into their level according to their "inherent worth" and all that. Which is to say, they're OK with private power trumping all and most people getting screwed.

      But I thought left-wingers were against that (in theory, at least). Government is the embodiment of public power checking private power. Without government, what does check private power? What the hell do left-libertarians think will happen without government?

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  10. My guess is that they really don't want to win. If things stay bad, then there's something to bitch about. They're a weak willed bunch. They're more attracted to theater. How else can a putz like Anthony Weiner be a bold progressive? They seem attracted to characters that prefer being heard than accomplishment. For me poverty is real. Words aren't feeding anyone. Words aren't fixing the economy either. I want to take these guys down.

    Vic78

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  11. I'm done.

    What's most compelling me to stop listening to this set of political stake holders are those who, one after another, take the time to write paragraphs and paragraphs stuffed with witty turns of highly acerbic condescension for anybody that doesn't "toe-the-line" on all of PBO's political fronts. You can learn a lot from a volley, but everybody in this discourse group just runs up to the net and spikes every damn time.

    My most important reason is that as a Democrat I understand the historical support for listening to non-moderates. For instance, Progressives want a great deal more transparency and justice than vehement moderates and I can prove that with just one good reason: The Democratic Party's complicity regarding the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)

    http://billmoyers.com/episode/full-show-united-states-of-alec-a-follow-up/

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    1. The fact that you divide the groups into "progressives" and "vehement moderates" means you don't understand a word I have written. This has nothing to do with differences on the political spectrum and everything to do with strategy.

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    2. Out of respect for having followed you for 2 months in the twitter-sphere I'll say one thing more in regards to the below quote you authored which was to have proofed as you said, "...you don't understand a word I have written (more condescension)"

      "This has nothing to do with differences on the political spectrum and everything to do with strategy."

      Strategy is a part of characterization. Characterization is precisely what locates one on the political spectrum; more so than words/speeches or nearly every other aspect of characterization because strategy is what precedes action and what you do defines who you are.

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    3. Here's the problem, Hadah Thought.

      The anti-Obama crowd on the Left has nothing but complaints. That's it. No strategy, no accomplishments, just whining and complaining. And heaven knows they are just as condensing as you claim we are. And when some of these same lefties outright lie about what Obama has done, I quit listening to them. End of story.

      These same left-wingers have been losing at American Politics since the late '60s. And, as someone who was born and raised in the conservative aftermath of those failures, I'm done.

      Maybe strategy is a part of characterization, but you never get to the action part. You're too caught up in the characterization part to even think of a strategy and thus act. Meanwhile as you and others on the left fumble around with this "characterization" exercise over the past 4 decades, the Right goes ahead and defines us as something we clearly are not and keeps winning elections on the national level.

      Get your head out of the clouds, Hada Thought. Your username says it all. That's all you have...thoughts! It's important to think, but you also must act. And no, I just don't mean signing a petition or protesting in front of a building. I mean actually winning elections and then governing!!!!

      And ideology purity does not win elections in America. You think the Tea Party is a political success. They are a political failure. They've alienated so many people that they have little chance winning in a fair election at this point. So, they're trying to steal it.

      But, if you want to keep engaging in your characterization exercises go right ahead. Hopefully, in the next 20-30 years, you'll figure out a strategy and actually do something. Just don't be surprised if other left-wingers who are little more practical, realistic, and optimistic don't sit around waiting on you and have moved on.

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    4. Hadah Thought @ 11:43

      The idea that strategy defines where one lies on the political spectrum is complete nonsense. Goals are the definition - strategy is merely the way you go about reaching those goals.

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    5. So, the Ends justify the Means.

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  12. Well, I'll add the "Revolving Door."

    http://billmoyers.com/episode/full-show-mark-leibovich-on-Americas-gilded-capital/

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    1. Documentaries are nice. I watch a lot of them myself. They are highly informative, but they are no substitute for organizing, winning elections, and then governing.

      And here's another thing you need to understand. Not everybody in America agrees with us and they have a right not to. They can vote for the people who oppose us (even if its against their best economic interests). So, how do you convince these people to change their minds? The middle is where America is. This isn't a liberal or conservative country. It's a moderate country. Obama knows that, all of us here know that, and believe it or not so do most liberals and many progressives. It's a shame that you don't.

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