If one listened to President Obama on the campaign trail in the past week, you would think our greatest problem is not the tea partiers' demonstrations comparing him to a subspecies out to enslave white people, or the Blue Dogs in his own party compelling him to water down all of his legislation or desert it altogether. No, naturally, it is our fault, the people who elected him. Apparently, we just are not that appreciative.
I freely concede that I voted for Barack Obama not expecting much in 2008, probably less than the average progressive. I expected him to do virtually nothing on domestic reform, especially after seeing the corporatist Democrats he appointed to his cabinet and as advisors (i.e., Summers, Geithner, Emanuel, et al.). These Clinton retreads pretty much illustrated to me that he would govern as Clinton did (and we forget that when Clinton was in office, he was accused by the right-wing of being an evil socialist-Communist-un-American, as well [only acknowledging his moderate stances after his presidency, as they will likely do when Obama is no longer in office to scare them]).
But let us address some of the more substantive claims of Barack Obama in a recent interview, as to why progressives should support him.
1. The President claims that he has accomplished a lot and that we should support him because of these 'accomplishments'. And what does that include? A financial regulatory bill in which the only meaningful regulations will be overseen by the Federal Reserve, one of the groups who, along with our banking industry, helped caused our recession-depression and is wholly ill-equipped to regulate the very sources of capital that it supports. This would be like passing a civil rights bill with the enforcement mechanism left to the Mississippi State Police. And by culpability in our collapse, this is the same Federal Reserve that was telling us, as recently as 2007, that subprime mortgage lending was fundamentally sound and that our real estate market would soon recover from the slide of 2006.
What about the health care bill that President Obama likes to tell us is such a momentous and important piece of legislation? Put aside ideological blinders and look at the bill for what it is. Republicans and their useful idiots (i.e., those whose conceptualization of literacy derives from reading the Old Testament) would tell us it is a 'government takeover' of healthcare. In actuality, it is a government-subsidized private health care bill. The public option, the supposed compromise from the single payer system, was quickly jettisoned upon the objections of 4 Senate Democrats and Joseph Lieberman. That is it. Less than a half dozen members of Congress, and the insurance companies who were stuffing their insides with money, killed the very aspect of the bill that was supposed to be the 'compromise,' the public option. And now? A $1 trillion giveaway to the insurance industry.
And now that parts of the bill are kicking in, notice the insurance rate hikes that are taking place. Of course, the administration will claim this is a terrible violation of the spirit of the bill, but that in itself is an insult to anyone's intelligence. There are no price controls in the legislation. You cannot omit something like that and then feign shock and outrage when the predatory bilious bastards of business (the real BBB) exploits the green shoot of that loophole to take us, the policy holders, to the cleaners for a 10-15% rate hike--no doubt to increase the profits of those parasitical stockholders that we permit to be a part of this process (the contradiction of our healthcare system that murders over 40,000 people a year). You cannot be a law school graduate and pretend that you had no idea this would happen. No one is that stupid, particularly Barack Obama.
2. He got us out of Iraq. I hear my students repeat this one constantly. It is to the point that you have to wonder if Goebbels was on to something when he opined that the best way to get a point across was to lie repeatedly until it was accepted as fact. It is almost become a mantra of the administration to tell us how he took us out of Iraq, but we are not out of Iraq and will not be for the remainder of his administration or anyone else's, until our empire falls. By the end of this year, the US will have around or over 50,000 troops in Iraq. Yes, they are supposed to be there as non-combat troops, but these will not be gamers and drone fliers on those bases. They will be the same support and infantrymen that we have had there for the past seven years. More importantly, they will not be leaving. I am sure if the British decided to keep 50,000 troops behind in the US after our revolution, we would have viewed their presence quite differently.
3. When Barack Obama ran back in 2008, one of the few promises he gave, and it was one that mattered to me when I cast my vote, that he would (unlike George Bush) respect civil liberties.
Now, consider President Obama's policies. He has continued the practice of suspending habeas corpus rights of terrorist suspects, has rescinded indefinitely his order to shut down Guantanamo Bay, and has fallen back on his promise to have civilian trials for those terrorist defendants at Guantanamo Bay, which is to say he has continued the policies of the Bush administration. All of this was after harsh criticism (predictable from a party that hypocritically claims to oppose government, except when torturing and killing Muslims).
Even worse, and most offensive (and in my view the greatest assault on civil liberties in the history of this republic) our President, the man who asserted that he was going to bring back rights, now has comprised an assassination list of uncharged 'terrorists,' who are to be killed on sight by our government anywhere throughout the world. This list includes citizens of the US. On my worst day as a cynic before voting in 2008, I never envisioned Obama doing something like this because no President has ever done this, at least not in such a brutal assault on this country's Constitution.
For those progressives reading this, think about what is happening for a moment. Our President can theoretically include any US-born citizen accused of being a terrorist, without charge and legal supervision, and have them killed. And to think, we almost impeached Richard Nixon for lying about a hotel break-in, but I am supposed to not care that my President is ordering an American citizen to be killed on sight, on his orders alone, and without criminal charge. We still have an executive order prohibiting the US government from assassinating foreign leaders, promulgated by the Ford administration, following the revelations of our past failed attempts to kill Fidel Castro. So, under our government, Fidel Castro and any foreign leader is seen as worthier of life (even someone that our government dislikes) than any US citizen who is accused of being a terrorist. And if you oppose being included on this list, you lack recourse because the courts will prohibit you to appeal a case that has not been made against you (that is, until our courts rule that the President is overstepping his boundaries to have an assassination list, which it has yet to do).
Imagine if George Bush had done this. Imagine if Dick Cheney, as Vice President, had done this. You know that our fellow liberals would have taken to the streets, screaming in the blogosphere about it. But Barack Obama does it and we are just supposed to shut up, suck it up, and vote Democratic no matter what. Because, after all, as Glenn Greenwald backhandedly joked, the "Republicans are scary!"
4. Lastly, the President says that because of the aforementioned, we are being nothing more than whiners. Well, Mr. President, who is the one being the whiner? You are complaining about us for holding you accountable, when you asked us to. You are violating one of the few, and I mean few, campaign promises that you made, by expanding on Bush's suspension of habeas corpus and then comprising an assassination list of American citizens to be killed on your personal orders (without oversight, without charge, without any debate). Why can we not debate this? And to you tea partiers who complain about big government, where are you when your government now declares that any of us can be murdered by our state on the mere charge of one person?
Could anyone imagine the Republicans bashing its base and declaring that religious people are just too involved in politics, government sometimes necessary to help people, and that Muslims and Mexicans are not so bad after all? We have a President from our party (for those of us who are fellow Democrats) who gives the tea partiers a free pass in a major interview, refuses to call them out for their racism (against him and Mexican-Americans), and who can only feel angry and upset with the people he lied to, stabbed in the back, and cut off at the knees, while telling us how grateful we should be about it all?
No, Mr. President, let me, one of your voters, tell you something. I am not your servant, regardless of what your advisors tell you. I am the one who voted you into power. I am not obligated to support you simply because you are a Democrat. You cannot continually violate what few promises you do make, giving us a dilution on the one or two that you actually come through on, and then tell me that I am being the whiner. You do not call the tea partiers whiners. Well, guess what, neither is holding a DINO (Democrat in name only) to account for his ideological affronts. If you do not like it, then stop asking for our vote. Whatever else I have done in my life, my actions do not include ordering my fellow citizens in an office in Nevada to remotely use missile-clad drones and face recognition software a half-world away to kill an American-born citizen as a 'terrorist,' who was never given a day in court or the right to contest a charge you will not make on the grounds that it is a secret.
When we lose this November, and we will, you can delude yourself all you want about how it was our fault for not showing up at the polls. Those of us that voted back in 2008 will know the real reason why: you lied to your voters and did not lift a finger to do any of the things you said that you would do (and there were not that many to begin with). And if you do not roll back the more offensive aspects of your first two years in office, especially your assault on habeas corpus and your personal assassination list, you can forget about my support in 2012, even if the other party nominates a lunatic.
And to the departed Rahm Emanuel, enjoy your trip back to Chicago, and from this progressive to you: sexual penetration to you, too.