Monday, November 15, 2010

Lost Hope: Did Obama Okey-doke the Liberals?

On Thursday night I watched a Frontline program called Obama’s Deal.  The next day I picked up a book by Edward McClellend called Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black PresidentYoung Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President.  These two mainstream media offerings were related to some degree. Obama’s Deal documented the two year ordeal that President Obama went through to get his ObamaCare passed into law, while Young Mr. Obama detailed Barack’s rise from a community organizer on Chicago’s southside to becoming the only black member of the U.S. Senate by 2004. Both are very good sources for insight into Obama's poltical modus operandi and they both ALSO go a long way in explaining the misgivings that Liberals are having over Obama’s actions as President thus far.  Many Liberals view the wheeling and dealing it took for Obama to become an U.S. Senator and the wheeling and dealing it took for him to pass the Health Care bill as examples of Obama's willingness to compromise Liberal principles.

As an Illinois state senator and as a U.S. senator Obama appeared to sell out liberal ideas for the advancement of his own career and agenda on a regular basis.  For example as a state senator, Obama allowed developers (similar to those he took contributions from) to demolish a historic nightclub in his district (on Forty-seventh street) known as Geri’s Palm Tavern for, what appeared to be, political gain.  Similarly he voted to close the DCFS (children and family services) office on Chicago’s Westside to appease fiscal conservatives.  Also Obama was implicated in the porking out of a $29 million gun range to Sparta, Illinois in order to get the Senator from that district to support him.

Then, while campaigning for POTUS in 2008 Obama promised that if elected he would run corporate lobbyists out of Washington.  He famously badgered the Bush Administration for letting the Health Insurance Industry write the Health and Drug bills.  But then, once he was elected POTUS himself, he directly ushered the Health Insurance lobbyists and the Drug Industry lobbyist into the white house to do basically the same thing all over again: i.e. to author his ObamaCare. And the liberals were thinking: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?!?

Many Liberals started feeling as if they had been okey-doked.  There wasn't going to be any drastic CHANGE in the way politics were done in Washington. Obama wasn’t throwing lobbyists out of the capital—he was inviting them in. He wasn’t sticking it to fraudulent, wasteful and abusive corporate CEOs—he was bailing them out! And what happened to the total transparency (that would allow each individual to make an informed decision) that he promised?  Liberals were becoming discouraged--on the verge of being convinced that our political system breeds unethical maneuvering, no matter who the president is.  The Obama campaign of 2008 had rallied the far-left in a historical manner, but after two years of dashed hopes on what seemed like false promises, the thin membrane separating Liberals from total anarchy or total apathy was on the verge of breaking. And if that thin membrane were to break, (that thin membrane based on the belief that Liberals have a hope that they can change things within the American political system without compromising their liberal principles) then liberals would be left with basicaly two alternatives. One, they can totally turn their back on the American political system (anarchy or apathy). Or two they can evolve into Progressives.

Obamacare Pictures, Images and PhotosTo take the Progressive route would take faith.  ObamaCare was seen by some Liberals as the epidome of  how they would have to compromise their principles.  In fact some began comparing it to the Bush/Cheney's War For Oil in Iraq.  Whereas NeoCons tried to argue that in the long run the ends justified the means in invading Iraq, similiarly Liberals felt they were being put in the position of having to argue that in the long run ObamaCare is best for the United States.  In some ways this was a hard argument to make, partly due to the brilliance of Obama as a poltical player.  If Obama revealed too much, he would have provided fodder for the right-wing attack machine.  Instead Obama employed a strategy that may become as large of a part of his legacy as "passive resistance" has become to Martin Luther King's, which is: "Leading from the Back".  Determined that in the long run universial health care will be for the betterment of the US, Obama took on an Obstructionist Party of No that dominated Congress and was able to move his agenda ahead like few other POTUSes in history have been able to do. Instinctually Progressives understand that ObamaCare is a neccesary stepping stone toward socialized healthcare.  But living in an impatient, fast-food, immediate gratification gotcha-politics society where people expect perfection right here and right now, the idea of passing something as complex as ObamaCare seemed almost unrealistic. Yet Obama took on the task, having faith that eventually the bugs in Obamacare will get worked out.  The important thing was providing that springboard foundation for universal health care that ObamaCare would provide.

By passing ObamaCare, Obama made a stance that, America needs to be a country where humanitarian concerns trump monetary concerns.  A country where it is more important for children to have health care and for folks with pre-existing conditions to get treatment than it is for the stockholders and CEOs of the drug and health care industry to continue making record-breaking profits.  For Progressives who believe that humanitarian causes should trump monetary causes, the case for ObamaCare being worth the cost is an easy one to make.  Yet the unfortunate machinations that got ObamaCare pushed through remained: it had been politics as usual—the exact thing that Obama promised America that he wasn’t going to do. A promise, that more than anything else, inspired Liberals to get out and vote for Obama in 2008.  So after two years without Obama delivering on his promise of changing "politics as usual" there is a question of whether on not Liberals will vote for Obama in 2012.  Have they lost Hope?

I give Young Mr. Obama 3.5 out of 5 WagemannHeads.

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