As a progressive Democrat, I’m proud of what President Obama has done in his first 2 ½ years. He steered the country through the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes. He risked his Presidency to get the Affordable Care Act passed. He signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, eliminating an egregious form of discrimination against women. He pushed for and signed repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” He signed the New START Treaty, eliminating thousands of nuclear weapons. He has vastly improved the image of the United States around the world.
All of this was done in the face of monolithic opposition by the Republican Party. Republicans have shamefully misrepresented what the President is doing, characterizing him as a “socialist,” “the most liberal President in history,” and worse.
President Obama is no socialist. If he were, he would have pushed for single-payer health care and nationalized the bank. And he’d have demanded a bigger stimulus plan, with more public-sector jobs.
But he is the most effective liberal President since Lyndon Johnson. I admired President Clinton, but he tried and failed to reform health care and to allow gays to serve openly in the military. Nor did Jimmy Carter do much to advance the progressive agenda.
It pains me to hear the harsh, intemperate criticism of President Obama by progressives. They complain that he hasn’t advanced immigration reform or some other issue, or that he’s compromised with Republicans by agreeing to extend the Bush tax cuts for the rich or by agreeing to cut government spending,
Do you remember the Bush Administration? Think of the daily horrors of that era. Look at the list of accomplishments above and tell me that any of them could ever have happened under a Republican administration.
Politics is the art of the possible. Presidents’ decisions affect millions of people. For example, President Obama reluctantly agreed to a two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts for the rich because he didn’t have the votes to win. In exchange, he got increased unemployment benefits, passage of the New START Treaty, and an end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” He probably gnashed his teeth (as we did), but we’re all better off because he did what he could.
Do you really think President Obama could have accomplished more in the past 2 ½ years than he did? I wish he could have, but I don’t see how.
I respect President Obama’s convictions, his judgment, and his effectiveness. When I disagree with something he says or does, I stop to consider that maybe I’m the one who’s wrong. After all, I’ve never been elected President against heavy odds, saved our economy from a total meltdown, and gotten health care reform passed when Presidents since Teddy Roosevelt have tried and failed.
It’s a free country, and you’re entitled to express your opinion. But we have responsibilities, too. The country and the world are better for all President Obama has done. If we don’t put all our efforts into reelecting him and giving him a Congress and Senate that will back him, we will share the responsibility for the failure of all our hopes and dreams and for the fulfilling of our nightmares.
If you still wish to criticize the President, please do it with respect, appreciation, and humility. Respect the fact that this is the leader of our party and our country. Appreciate that he has done so much, and that he wants to do more. And have some humility because this President has the hardest job in the world, at the hardest time of our lives, with the most irresponsible opposition ever.
Most importantly, after voicing your criticism, do everything you can to help reelect President Obama. Helping to reelect President Obama is the single most important thing any progressive can do now. If you stand idly by or withhold your active, passionate support, you will be playing into the hands of those who would turn back the clock.