I am an unabashed liberal who believes that freedom comes with responsibility. Voting in a democracy is no small privilege and I do my best to be an informed, engaged, and active voter. With every election I do my homework, searching the facts before believing whatever it is the media tells me, and I choose a candidate I can get behind.
Barack Obama was no exception. After I took the time to learn about him I supported him during his 2008 presidential campaign and continue to support him to this day. I don’t like every decision he’s made but by and large, I think his perspective on the world is similar to mine and believe without a doubt that he wants to do right by the American people. He made me believe that together, “yes we can.” Now that’s he’s announced he’s running for re-election, I’ve joined him in that endeavor and declared myself, “I’m In.”
During the 2008 campaign I often heard Obama say that the election was only the first step toward progress, and that the real work would begin after assuming office. In Obama’s first two years in office, his words have certainly proven to be true. There are several groups working against him and his agenda, each which have no trouble disregarding the overwhelming number of citizens who voted for change last fall in the process.
The Republicans fight him at every twist and turn, determined to make him fail for no other reason than the pleasure they get from kicking sand back at the fellow who took control over the sandbox. The Tea Party Patriots (and I use that term loosely) emerged like a bunch of Snidely Whiplash cartoonish characters, replete with black clothing, capes, and freakishly tall hats, babbling something about, “wanting their country back” and organizing some of the most vile, hateful, racist, and violent demonstrations against our government we’ve seen in years. And of course there were the Bluedogs, thwarting progress with grandstanding and threats of filibusters, courting both sides of the fence and making enemies in the process. Baffling to me is that they didn’t see the irony of their efforts; those desperate, pathetic strategies intended to improve their odds of getting re-elected drawing more detractors than anything else. But the action of the folks I find hardest to take and hardest to understand comes from the so-called progressive liberals.
Progressives were just as in love with Obama during the 2008 campaign as his supporters were. Don’t tell me you weren’t because I know you were. I heard you talking about him in optimistic tones over old coffee and organic greens at the co-ops, at the copy machines, and on the airwaves. Now you say that Obama’s a failure and that you tried to warn us all last year. Now that he’s carrying out his campaign promises you’re acting like you never saw this coming. And you’re doing everything you can to discredit him and create your own organic, union made in America, energy efficient, diversity friendly sandbox.
Excuse me while I step outside for some fresh air.
Two years ago you rallied behind Obama and even choked up a little over this man with the funny name who was the closest thing to you in a suit you’ve ever seen. It was almost as if Obama made you feel something close to hope, and you jumped on the bandwagon and drank the kool-aid right along side the rest of us.
But now you’ve turned on the one person our generation has produced who might be able to put things right. You’ve decided that 24 months of an administration is long enough for our problems to have been fixed and now the rest is up to you if progress is to be had. You’re impatient and rude, and your intelligence is overshadowed by your unchecked ego. You want everything now and when it can’t or won’t be delivered according to your timetable you insist that means that Obama is either disingenuous, a sell-out, or a failure.
You know what? You’re just as dogmatic and inflexible as the right wing. And you could stand to learn a few things from our president.
#1. Progress is a process
Hey you, yes you, the one in such a hurry. During the campaign, Barack told us to keep our heads down and stay focused on the work we were doing. He advised us to ignore the pundits and the media and stay on course even while the naysayers were screaming all around us, telling us that what we were after was impossible. Over the course of two difficult years we achieved the unimaginable. Despite the fact that the results were not instantaneous, we achieved what we set out to do.
I want to warn you, there will be setbacks. It will take time. But I promise you I will always tell you the truth about the challenges that we face and the steps that we are taking to meet them. ~ Senator Barack Obama in Arnold, Missouri (April 29, 2009)
#2. Progress over perfection
Progressives just can’t handle increments. It’s gotta be all or nothing. Truth to tell, I think you like the nothing part a little too much, revel in it, play with your pain puppets in the basement and spend too much time commiserating over your shock and awe with fellow martyrs. Paul Begala summed it up beautifully in a piece he wrote on the health care reform battle a year ago by saying,
I’ve never seen the Republican right oppose a tax cut for the rich because it wasn’t generous enough; I’ve never seen them oppose a set of loopholes for corporate lobbyists because one industry or another wasn’t included. The left, on the other hand, too often prefers a glorious defeat to an incremental victory.”
Yet when Congress was debating the issue of health care reform, where were you? The right complained we were rushing the bill through; you threatened that if it couldn’t happen fast enough or the way you wanted it to that you would sabotage their efforts. What the hell were you thinking? How do you think every other piece of hallmark legislation came into being? What? It just happened overnight after you protested really, really loudly? Come on, change comes in increments. No other piece of moral legislation in the history of America was achieved in one comprehensive swoop.
Here’s why we have to do all this: because for decades, Washington avoided doing what was right in favor of doing what was easy. And the middle class took a beating for it. Well, I didn’t run for President to sweep our messes under the rug with the next election in mind.” ~ President Barack Obama, Allentown PA (December 4, 2009)
#3. We are better than that
When the Bible thumpers came out against Reverend Wright, Barack said to disengage. When Hillary “mispoke” about being shot at in Saudi Arabia, Barack told us to leave it alone. When the right wing called Barack a terrorist Muslim with extremist ties, Barack told us to walk away. Regardless of the inflammatory nature of the lies, Barack held his head high and never retaliated. He said, “we are better than that.” He taught us that a campaign could be won by sticking to the issues and refusing to engage in character assassination.
Progressives on the other hand seem willing to resort to the old school method of embellishing or telling outright lies in order to achieve their objective – if it will get them what they want.
Barack Obama repeatedly pledged during his campaign to always tell the truth even when to do so would pain him to say it or us to hear it. So now when he tells us the truth, like our problems won’t be fixed overnight, progressives reward him with impatience.
Let’s be honest for one minute about what progressive action is. Let’s start by examining the definition of the word:
Using the dictionary definition of the word, there seems to be very little progression taking place within the Liberal Progressive camp. Unwilling to accept progress in steps, unwilling to tolerate compromise, unwilling to yield to the concerns of the other side of the aisle, yet always ready to lambaste and pounce on any perceived wound; these would-be caretakers of our country are willing to throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water.
To my progressive friends who are getting bloody and enjoying the battle, I would caution you to think about who it is that’s gonna bring you bandages and supplies way up there in your lofty, no-lead-no-smell-chemical-free ivory tower you’re living in. Because the way you’re throwing stones my friend – THAT, is not the change we can believe in. That’s the same old, same old, and will do little to advance your cause. All it does is dilute the power within our ranks. But if you’re looking for a sure thing, keep it up, because this kind of rancor is sure to seal your fate with failure.
It's not about the me. It's about the we.