Obama’s Betrayal Of The Left Spells Problems For The Democratic Party
Back when Candidate Obama was working the campaign trail across the country, his message of hope — of overcoming entrenched interests in pursuit of meaningful and necessary change — inspired and stirred a nation. He marketed his message in an ingenious mantra, “Yes we can,” that conjured up the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr.; one who by sheer will, determination, and inspiration had overcome monumental — institutionalized — adversity.
Obama’s message, his symbolism, and his command of issues awoke a sleeping giant in this country: a grass-routes movement high on populism, and deeply suspicious of beltway elites and special interests. He’d effectively tapped into this spirit across people of all ethnicities, races, religions, and economic backgrounds. He resonated with them in a way that helped to distinguish himself from his opponent Hillary Clinton, a centrist, whose brand had long been associated with special interest influence.
What Obama effectively stirred up in this country has turned out to be a mixed blessing for the Democratic Party, a party which had strategically repositioned itself to the center as far back as the 1990s, by embracing many of the same corporate interests that had historically backed Republicans. Since the Clinton years, Democrats successfully placated the Left by throwing them a few bones here and there, while doing the bidding of entrenched interests on more significant and complex issues (like trade, health care, credit card legislation, bankruptcy laws, etc).
Obama made the mistake of believing he could run as ‘Obama the populist,’ to then transform into and govern as ‘Obama the centrist’. Perhaps he’d merely allowed himself to get sucked into championing populist positions he wasn’t sincerely passionate about during the long and contentious campaign. Let’s face it, of the three major contenders in the Democratic Primaries, John Edwards started out as the quintessential ‘populist candidate.’ Obama moved more and more in that direction as the primaries continued, and Obama’s delivery of these populist messages became so well received, that I sometimes wonder if at some point he and his campaign just made a strategic decision to ride out the populist wave. You can see how he might have gotten caught up in it all — the exhilaration of “moving” and “inspiring” the masses; seeing tens of thousands of people queued-up enthusiastically in the rain for hours, to hear how you’re going to finally take them to the promised land, and deliver meaningful change. I admittedly was one of those waiting in line, in the rain, for five hours, in Chapel Hill (ruined my shoes, btw). 🙂
President Obama and the Democratic Party have a big problem on their hands. They awakened something of a populist giant, only to betray their hopes, and to leave them feeling more cynical about their government than ever before. Thomas Jefferson astutely said, “An injured friend is the bitterest of foes.” I can think of no better expression that more accurately captures the feeling on the Left towards the Democratic Party at this very moment.
Few on the Left blame Republican obstructionism for Washington’s inability to pass a robust public option, or for any of Obama’s other broken campaign promises. We expect nothing more from the Republicans — our lying, propagandizing, obstructive foes. We have watched the President and the White House very closely since his election, and are perplexed by his lack of conviction, fortitude, and leadership; his refusal to advocate strongly for his own — supposed — legislative priorities; his nonexistent efforts in getting his campaign promises pushed through two Democratic houses. Obama had been awarded an overwhelming mandate to implement the change HE PROMISED, and he’s clearly not up to the task. No, the Left lays the blame squarely at Obama’s feet.
And that may prove to be calamitous for the Democratic Party in the 2010 and 2012 elections — a party whom the Left resented for eight long years, as they signed their names to some of the most catastrophic — often illegal — Bush initiatives imaginable. Obama and the Democratic Party are still actively covering up Bush’s war crimes — immunizing these neo-cons from ever being held accountable; most likely to cover up Democratic complicity.
The grass-routes enthusiasm for Democrats in 2008 was mostly wrapped up in a hatred for Bush/Cheney and a love of Obama — what he represented; and more importantly, what he advocated for: CHANGE. Obama, for a moment in time, had reinstated the electorate’s enthusiasm for what had been a complicit, impotent, subservient Democratic Party. Now that Obama and the Democrats have taken the easy route — tossed meaningful change on several fronts over board in order to accommodate entrenched interests — I suspect Left-leaning populists will abandon voting Democratic across all candidates, something they were all too happy to do in 2008.
Just a hunch …