Saturday, October 2, 2010

It's Time for Liberals to Get Their Groove Back

Liberals used to be exciting; we tended to think outside of the box and we believed in the power of advocacy. We championed peace; fought for justice; attacked racism and sexism with gusto. But not any more, here lately we whine a lot about what President Obama has not accomplished and insist that he needs to be more aggressive.

I think phrases like "be more aggressive" are meaningless. Be more agressive in what way? What would you have Obama do that he has not done on those issues? He has no authority to compel Congress to do anything. To get the cooperation of Congress is a process of negotiation; there is no presidential authority to push any legislation through Congress.

What would you have him do? I want to know precisely what it is any of the folks who keep saying that the president should be more aggressive on progressive issues want him to do? I don't mean some nebulous concept such as act tough, I mean what specific actions do you think that he should take that he has not taken? He supports repealing DADT and has said as much to Congress; he even got the military leadership to state that it favored repealing DADT. What now, pimp slap John McCain and the other recalcitrant senators?

Some assert that this administration should prosecute the former administration for its use of torture. The actions of the previous administration were immoral but they were argubably within the parameters of executive authority and not, therefore, prosecutable. As for the Patriot Act, bad law but once again it is not within the authority of the president to simply declare that it no longer exists. Guess who? Congress. Instead of undermining the president, how about we direct our resources towards holding Congress accountable and insisting on changes.

Some of my friends insist that the president's efforts at bipartisanship are a demonstration of weakness. They think that we need to be tougher, adapt the tactics of the right for our own use. I reject that notion, not because I'm interested in making nice; I'm interested in accomplishing our goals. How does stooping to the same level of deception, rudeness, and unethical standards as the right, move forward a progressive agenda?

The one thing upon which liberals appear to agree is that the left is more intellectually astute than the right. Frankly, I don't believe that this is an absolute, but liberals pride themselves on being thinkers. Exactly to whom does a policy that adapts the approach of the right appeal? It doesn't appear likely that the intelligent minded folks on the left will be influenced by negative strategies; besides, they are already on our side. So who are we trying to influence?

As for the Tea Party, it is a lost cause and there is nothing that the left can say that will sway them to change their position. Calling the right on the lies that it perpetrates may provide some personal satisfaction but it will not change their minds. You can't show them that they are wrong. It's a waste of effort. Their beliefs aren't based on logic; no matter how many facts you present to the Tea Party faithful they will continue to believe what they want to believe. For heaven's sakes, these people believe that Obama is a Muslim, a socialist, and a supporter of the terrorists in spite of there being nothing to support these allegations and everything to contradict them!

The progresive left needs to focus on the independents and young people who played a key role in winning the presidential election in 2008. Is the dumbed down, angry attack mode of the right really going to be an effective tool in persuading the disenchangted progresives who were so enthused in 2008 to rally? Is engaging in a shouting match with the right to assign blame really an effective strategy for influencing these intelligent, undecided people?

We don't need the Tea Party in order to win in November but we do need those disillusioned independents and young people who put Obama over the finish line in 2008. Those are the people who are threatening not to vote; those are the people who feel betrayed. They are disillusioned and tired. 

Long time liberals will snarl and complain but we will still vote, but without these disillusioned folks, our votes won't be enough and the TP will triumph. So how do we rev up the independents, the "this is the first time I've ever voted in 30 years crowd," the idealistic young, how do we get them to replicate the dedication that they displayed in 2008? Somehow, I don't think that a lot of whining and complaining because unrealistic expectations have not been met will get them to come back to the fold.

All of this leftist carping isn't a minor thing. We have to get these people back. We can't afford for them to sit out the upcoming elections. We have to help them see a reason to have hope. 2008 was alll about hope; now progressives have turned into a whining, bitter bunch out for blood. I don't object to this solely because I personally find such behavior childish but because it is not only useless, it's counterproductive. It only confirms for the disillusioned that there's nothing worth fighting for because hope is a myth and change is impossible. If I believed that, I'd stay home on election day too.

We cannot afford to suck the life out of the progressive movement with sour attitudes and a sullen sense of defeat before the battle is even fought. The next time that someone challenges Obama's effectiveness in his less than two years as president, give them this link to 244 things that Obama has accomplished thus far. Then direct them over to his recent interview in Rolling Stone Magazine. If you need a fact sheet explaining why the repeal of DADT is not within the president's power, let me know. I've generated one and will be happy to send it to you. Don't waste your efforts on TP members but do remind those who voted for Obama in 2008 that change has always been incremental and that the president is moving us in the right direction. Most of all, pick yourself up, stop whining, and remember that at the bottom of Pandora's box, when all the evils of the world had been released was a bright and shining creature called "Hope."


Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

I agree whole heartedly with this entry. Our President has achieved so much but gets little credit. The best thing we can do is vote, and encourage others to vote as well. We need to retain both houses.

Nance said...

So very, very good. I loved the RS article and thanks for the pointer. As for re-energizing that young base, it is my fondest hope that someone from that age group will ask my opinion about politics...about anything, really. If I'm that lucky any time soon, I'm sending them to The Examined Life.

Lisa :-] said...

Great post, Sheria. I particularly like your last line about the shining creature called "Hope." Why do we forget about her all the time?

Anonymous said...

I don't see that Obama has done a damn thing. We're still waging two wars, health care "reform" is a bad joke, Guantanamo is still open, DADT has gotten nothing but lip service, he's actually expanded on Bush's attacks against civil liberties.

The last election convinced me, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the electoral process is a complete failure as an avenue for change.

I don't know where to go from here. But I know voting is a dead end.

Pat said...

Thanks Sheria. I am inspired. I vow to quit whining and feeling sorry for myself, just because everyone I see on a daily basis thinks Obama is the devil! I can at least get my mom, my husband, and my kids motivated to vote.

Gerry said...

I believe from what I have seen that Obama is a president whose greatest strength is an ability to keep reasoning and working without losing control of his emotions. I get the feeling he never stops thinking when he is attempting to reach a goal. I believe what the democratic party does or does not do is what will defeat him. I cannot recall a president who has impressed me more with how he handles this office. He has spent 37 years of his life with choice, so I hardly expected him to belong to the democratic party, be a liberal, aspire to be president, and not support the party platform. I am certainly glad a man of his caliber was elected. I think he is too smart to make too many serious mistakes. I believe he is presidential in how he handles the issues, but unfortunately I don't think some of the democrats who must ensure his re-election have his even temper and intelligence.
I think he is going to go down in history as an extraordinary president win or lose.
So saying, I am a pro life democrat for many years, an activist, and I work for a goal, I reach out to republicans of a like mind even when I don't think they are very strong. That is the work that I believe must be done in order to accomplish pro life goals.
I think the next election is Obama's to win if his party and supporters come through strong enough. We will be better off as a country if everyone, democrats and republicans, work very hard to win.
Sheria, I think you have the makings of a powerful political commentator, I have seen you grow by leaps and bounds with your passionate support of this president. He needs this. Keep writing. We may not always agree, but I think we both want powerful people to lead this country.

Des's big daddy said...

I admire President Obama's demeanor and his ability to work towards his goals at the pace that good leadership requires. The unfortunate reality is that our society has become incredibly impatient and expects everything to be fixed at once. It borders on insanity.

It will be interesting to see how the administration reacts to the election results, no matter what they may be.

And I have sent a number of people I know the link to this entry, since they are part of the "What has Obama done" crowd.

Mark said...

We could have had a public option, been out of Afghanistan, and Holder could have launched multiple investigations into the Bush era - to cite three giant mistakes.
Obama had 60 votes in the Senate and could have governed like an unapologetic liberal instead of an apologetic centrist, always seeking compromise with those who never had any intention of playing ball.
That said--he's not the enemy--the Republicans are. I will have no trouble voting against them in the fall. But I wish I had more to vote "for." There's been way too much cooperation with corporate America and not near enough cobativeness (or use of the bully pulpit to explain things to the idiotic electorate).