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A Realist for Obama

Posted by ed

I am writing this because one of my best friends has been haranguing me for many months about what a bad president Barack Obama is, and how sorry he is for working so hard to elect him. I have more or less patiently listened to these rants, BUT I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE! And since I know there are many other liberal/progressive Democrats who feel the way he does, this is addressed to all of you.

The theme is always the same: We were so inspired by Obama. He promised us change. We were so excited. But now, time after time, he has let us down. Yes, he has done a few good things, but two and half years after he took office, look how much he has utterly failed to do. Even worse, he is bending over backwards to compromise with those damn Republicans. This is not what I trudged through Wisconsin for him to do. This is not what I opened my pocketbook for him to do. You won't see me ringing any doorbells or donating any money to this guy in 2012.

And why don't you add: It will be so great to see Mitt Romney (or whomever) running the country for the next four years?

I apologize if it sounds condescending, but did you really believe all that campaign rhetoric??? Haven't you been around long enough to be aware of the difference between politicking and governing?

Yes, we were all impressed by the things Obama said in 2008. It would have been nice to elect the first woman president, but Obama clearly matched our values much better than Hillary. So we all supported Barack, and we were so proud to have played a part in electing not only the first black president but someone who thought like us in so many ways.

Then he took office and he started doing some really good things. I have a list that a friend gave me of all those good things, but you know what they are and I'm not going to bother to clutter this piece with the list. I know that you have a list of all the bad things--of all the promises unkept and all the allegedly unnecessary compromises. And it may be as long as my list. Do I wish, in a perfect world, that he had kept all those promises in his first term in office? Yes. Do I wish somehow he had felt comfortable in standing up to the Republicans more and refusing to compromise? Sure. Has he made mistakes? Of course.

But we live in an imperfect world.

Let me make it clear that I applaud you for criticizing President Obama, for reminding him of his promises, for urging him to try his best to stand tall. I have done the same thing in letters to the White House urging the President to take the stands I believe in, and I hope he gets a whole lot of letters from people like us, and maybe it will encourage him to do some of those things. But in those same letters I have expressed my support and confidence in him, and my willingness to work hard to re-elect him.

The thing that most troubles me about the tenor of your public criticism of the President is how it can seriously harm his re-election chances. If people like you announce publicly your bitterness and your determination to sit on your hands in 2012, we will have a President Romney or worse.

I want to clarify that it is every citizen's private right to decide who to vote for and who to work for and support. If you don't feel in your heart that you can do in 2012 what you did in 2008, I can respect that. And if you want to express to the President your profound disappointment in his performance so far, that is certainly your right. What disturbs me is that so many of you are announcing publicly that you will sit it out--thereby encouraging others who may look up to you for advice and guidance to do the same.

So far I have not brought up the race issue, but I think it is central to the situation. The reality is that racism is alive and well in America. Obama is the most liberal president in a very long time, and even if he were white, the Right would be mighty upset with him. But the fact that he is both liberal and black has enabled the Right to attract every bigot in the country, and we saw the results in the congressional elections of 2010.

For this reason, I give Obama a lot of slack. He needs the independents to vote for him next year, and looking at it politically, he needs to act less liberal than he would be inclined to, and he needs to compromise more than he would rather, or he could lose many independents.

I have been involved in Democratic politics for 51 years, and although I was initially an idealist, I soon came to realize that the bottom line in politics is to get yourself re-elected. Obama could have been real liberal and he could have refused to compromise (although even that would have been very difficult because he had to rely on the not very reliable Democrats in Congress), but he would have been a one-term president.

In summary, the idealist in me agrees with you folks, but the realist in me wins out. I am proud to have Barack Obama in the White House. And I look for him to be terrific in his second term.  


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