"No matter how paranoid or conspiracy-minded you are, what the government is actually doing is worse than you imagine." - - - William Blum

September 28, 2010

Obama lectures Democrats:

"....It is inexcusable for any Democrat or progressive right now to stand on the sidelines in this midterm election. There may be complaints about us not having gotten certain things done, not fast enough, making certain legislative compromises. But right now, we've got a choice between a Republican Party that has moved to the right of George Bush and is looking to lock in the same policies that got us into these disasters in the first place, versus an administration that, with some admitted warts, has been the most successful administration in a generation in moving progressive agendas forward.

"The idea that we've got a lack of enthusiasm in the Democratic base, that people are sitting on their hands complaining, is just irresponsible...It has been hard, and we've got some lumps to show for it. But if people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren't serious in the first place...."

About time!


t said...

why about time?

Instead of lecturing the wealthy and powerful, he chides devoted people on the Left.

Instead of lecturing the conservative tilt of the Democratic Party establishment, he lectures ordinary people.

Instead of lecturing financial elites, whom he is always careful to shower with praise, he attacks people who actually think that their elected officials should be held accountable to some determinate standard.

It's about time that Obama actually did something remotely progressive. He, like the rest of the Democratic Party machine, knows full well that people on the Left have no other choice. So he can deride them all he likes because people in this country have no meaningful choice. They have the option of choosing between one or other of two factions of one pro-business party.

Obama's comments are elitist and patronizing. He was elected by seizing upon real, tangible political energy in this country that was aimed at REALLY changing something. But what he and the Democrats did was siphon off that energy, defuse it, and "change" things in such a way that nothing really changed at all.

The task of the Left right now is to build the social movements, like the Labor movement in the 30s and the Civil Rights Movement did in the 60s, that can demand that things change whether or not the keepers of this system like it or not.

Mike said...

The two biggest problems facing Obama are in the Senate. Secret "holds" on appointments and the arcane filibuster rules thwart most legislative progress and empower Republicans beyond their proportional representative size. What Democratic voters are pissed about are the lack of motivation by congressional democrats to call out Republicans on their hypocracy and legislative blockade (i.e. the "just say no" agenda). I agree with your views that liberals must drive social advancement, but we must also change the legislative structure to form a path through which progressive advancement can peacefully travel.

t said...

To be sure, Republican obstructionism is a factor here. But let's be honest: the Dems had a supermajority at one point, crushing majorities in the House, and a popular young president with loads of political capital. The fact is that they didn't use that to do progressive things, and they have no one to blame for that but themselves. For me, this raises the question: to what extent are the Democrats just weak-willed, on the hand, or simply not motivated by progressive goals on the other? It is a major oversight, in my view at least, of a lot of liberal commentary that it fails to examine the second possibility.

With a cabinet populated by Goldman Sachs alumns, with a Senator who received the most contributions from the health insurance profiteers sitting as chair of the health care committee, etc. can we really be that surprised that these folks don't share our goals?

To be sure, some of the Dem's follies are strategic blunders. But I think we make a serious political mistake when we suppose that they're weaknesses are all tactical. Some of them are substantive and political, that is, some of the problems here derive from the fact that the Democratic Party has a stake in the status quo and doesn't share the goal of shaking things up. For me, the question is how we (i.e. ordinary people on the Left) can shake things up whether the Democrats like it or not.

t said...

I've written a bit about these matters here: http://pink-scare.blogspot.com/search/label/american%20duopoly if anyone is interested. Comments are always welcome.

Mike said...

t: In order for Dems to be true to their character they must actually care about others, reflect on and understand others' beliefs and values and take the initiative to engage with those of conflicting views (seen by some as a political weakness, unfortunately). Republicans, on the other hand, by nature (and policy) put personal interests and success as their top priority. This latter characteristic results in the hand-wringing and disparate reactions by the more-heterogeneous Democrats when they try to interact with Republicans. I.e., the very nature of Democrats means that if they behave more like Republicans then they are also hypocritical. And there are enough self-contained groups within the Dem party to keep hypocritical behavior from evolving like it does with Republicans.

Until Obama and other prominent Progressives can gain a significant foothold in the party, Dems will continue to be led by special interests and corporate-backed financial support. So the real job is to gain control within the party, not sidestep it and try to drive a separate political machine. Howard Dean has always had the correct vision: work at the grassroots level within the party, not on a separate path next to the party.

Mike said...

t: I went to your site but there's really nothing about who you are or what your personal views are.