Sunday, January 31, 2010

You Have The Right To Complain All You Want-- But Do You Deserve That Right?


Of course you do! Your ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War (on the anti-conservative side), right? And closer relatives fought in the Civil War (on the anti-conservative side), right? My family tree doesn't have American roots that deep. My great grandfather fought against the czar in Russia and my grandfather fought against industrialists for the right of working people to form labor unions here in America. I never thought that gave me any special rights to bitch about anything though-- just some inspiration to do something about social and political injustice.

We keep reading how the Democratic base is as let down as the GOP base is fired up. Democrats didn't bother turning out to vote in Virginia, New Jersey or Massachusetts-- 3 states Obama won last year-- because they are pissed off that a Democratic president with gargantuan majorities in the Senate and House is either unwilling or unable accomplish what made them vote for him, volunteer for him, donate to his campaign. I lost count months ago of how many e-mails, Facebook messages and comments here at DWT I get from ex-Obama supporters.

Back in 2007 I let Jamil, a young friend-- the son of old college buddies-- talk me into taking a less anti-Obama line at DWT. At the time I warned him that if Obama were to win the Democratic nomination and then the presidency, his record clearly indicated that he would be a tremendous disappointment to anyone who was reading too much into that "Change and Hope" campaign slogan thing. Castigating Hillary Clinton for talking out of both sides of her mouth on environmental issues, I pointed out that Obama was every bit as bad. (Remember this is in 2007:)
A consistent and craven compromiser on almost every progressive value or principle he's had to confront since being elected to the Senate (from Republican "tort reform" to legalizing credit card usury), Obama's environmental record has clearly been "one of accommodation to big corporate interests" and "his 'new kind of politics'" is nothing more than a charismatically delivered sham: "the old kind of influence peddling, caution, and smallness that most Democrats [at the grassroots level] reject." His environmental record is nothing Bush Republicans need to fear.
He is the Senate's leading Democratic supporter of "coal to liquid," a technology that can make gasoline out of coal. Only problem: it produces double the global warming pollution that regular old dirty oil does. As if that wasn't bad enough, Obama actually voted for George Bush's energy bill despite more than $27 billion in subsidies for the oil, nuclear and coal industries, its weakening of clean air and water laws, and the fact that it gave electric companies the power to charge consumers high rates while doing almost nothing to tackle global warming or increase consumer protections.

Why is Obama so willing to "trim his sails" so often-- despite the consequences to working and middle class Americans and the environment? It's not just that he apparently believes accommodation-- even of right-wing extremists-- can be both right and politically useful. It's something deeper. In his autobiography, The Audacity of Hope, Obama admits he has a hard time feeling a truly pressing sense of urgency about the great issues of the day.

He's not the leader America so desperately needs to clean up after the worst presidential regime in history, no more than Hillary Clinton is. It's not enough to drive Republicans out of government, even if that is a well-deserved and worthwhile first step. It's just as important to find BETTER Democrats. Substituting horrible, compromised Republicans with horrible compromised Democrats, symbolized by Insider hacks like Rahm Emanuel and Steny Hoyer, who control the Democratic House caucus, will solve little if anything.

As you probably heard, after he won, Emanuel was Obama's first high level pick for his fledgling Administration. It was hard not to despair on the spot. At least, I thought at the time, he's off the fast track that would have led to the Speakership. He's done more than enough damage, though, bolstering and amplifying all of Obama's worst flaws.

Sure progressives are complaining! How could they not? Anyone who wanted unending war voted for McCain and the Republicans. People who wanted peace voted for Obama and the Democrats. There's a disconnect there. So what's the answer? It's still the same-- complain all you want; sign petitions, write letters to editors, curse, scream, bang your head against a wall. But unless you leave the plethora of bad Democrats to rot with the Republicans who make up the other half of the Establishment and actually do something real to help elect the kinds of BETTER DEMOCRATS who really believe in fighting for a better America and a better world, it won't do you or anyone else a bit of good. You've had a chance to see what happens when we elect men and women like Alan Grayson, Donna Edwards, Jeff Merkley, and Jared Polis. They fight the Establishment and that includes not just taking the battle to the craven defenders of the status quo in the Republican Party and the Blue Dog caucus, but also standing up to Obama when he goes off track.

There's a lot of frustration, hopelessness and anger in the country right now. It's what helped elect Scott Brown in Massachusetts and it's helping a snickering and manipulative Establishment to propel the right-wing, Know Nothing populist movement (i.e., Teabaggers). But it's also an anger that can be turned against the Inside-the-Beltway Democratic Establishment that has saddled us with the Ben Nelsons, Joe Liebermen, Blanche Lincolns, Tom Carpers and Mary Landrieux in the Senate and Blue Dogs who have voted again and again with the GOP on important matters before the House, from newly minted anti-family spoilers like Travis Childers (Blue Dog-MS), Heath Shuler (Blue Dog-NC), Glenn Nye (Blue Dog-VA), Harry Mitchell (Blue Dog-AZ), Bobby Bright (Blue Dog-AL) and Frank Kratovil (Blue Dog-MD) to longtime, confirmed reactionaries like John Barrow (Blue Dog-GA), Jane Harman (Blue Dog-CA), Gene Taylor (Blue Dog-MS), Jim Marshall (Blue Dog-GA), Ed Case (sleazebag-HI), Tim Holden (Blue Dog-PA) and Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN). The anti-incumbent mood of the country is something that should help us defeat Blue Dogs like Harman, Barrow and Holden, each of whom has a progressive challenger and to defeat Blue Dog and DCCC-backed hacks like Lori Edwards in Florida. Blue America is helping to identify them and make sure they're the real deal. Please take a look at the Send The Democrats A Message They Can Understand page and ask yourself if today might be a day to chip in as little as $5 or $10 to help give fighting progressives like Alan Grayson and Donna Edwards and Dennis Kucinich and Raul Grijalva some company and some back-up when they're taking difficult stands against the Rahm Emanuel-Joe Lieberman-Harold Ford wing of the Democratic Party.

Yesterday we saw Ohio bloggers celebrate a huge victory, not just driving horribly reactionary and bigoted ConservaDem Jennifer Garrison out of the Secretary of State race, but out of politics entirely! We can do this; we must.

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At 7:02 PM, Blogger Suzan said...

What a great commentary!

Thank you for naming names. I won't forget the ones I was unaware of any time soon especially when I question why Dims are voting as they do.

Heath Shuler must go!!!



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