In president Obama's estimation, despite the political mud slinging, we all want the same kind of America. Somehow I don't think so. The Tea Party Republicans and neoconservative militarists do not want the same sort of American that (we sincerely hope) Obama does. It is a pretty safe bet that even John A. Boehner, the Speaker of the Republican controlled House, does not want the same America as Obama.
Nonetheless, on victory night Obama told his supporters, "I just spoke with Gov. Romney and...I also look forward to sitting down with [him] to talk about where we can work together to move this country forward." This is not just a pro forma offer. I am convinced that Obama wants to do exactly as he says. For in his heart of hearts he is a compromiser. He will compromise with just about anyone on just about anything. Given the political structure within which he lives, that means he will compromise with rabid Republicans, Zionists and neoconservatives -- if they will only "see reason" and compromise with him. Actually, the probable exception to this list are American progressives. Obama and his advisers probably feel that progressives are just a fringe group who will support the Democrats anyway and so they don't have to take their goals and values into consideration.
Thus, all the early indicators are that the second term Obama will be a lot like the first term one. Yet there are so many of his supporters who are sure this will not be the case. They swallow whole that teasing line "the best is yet to come." As one 2012 supporter said, "things are going to be different in Washington now that Obama proved he has the majority of Americans on his side." I thought he had already proved that in 2008.
Part IV - Conclusion
Well, all right, for those who count on the "real progressively inclined" Barack Obama showing up for his second term, here are a number of things the president can do to prove that things will be different. I take many of the following points from Juan Cole's recent column "Top Ten Wish List for President Obama."
-- He can propose and fight hard for legislation that will overturn the horrible "Citizens United" law that, among other things, reinforced the farce that corporations are really people and Superpacs somehow have the right to try to buy elections. And, simultaneously, the "real" Obama can expend some political capital pushing hard for meaningful campaign finance reform.
-- He can push for strong economic regulation, particularly for the banking and financial sectors of the economy.
-- He can fight to strengthen union rights both in the public and private sectors.
-- He can fight for legislation that will make illegal conservative efforts to restrict the franchise through such gambits as required picture IDs.
-- He can reshape the priorities of the FBI and other national law-enforcement agencies, moving them away from enforcing the unconstitutional Patriotic Act; away from the manufacture of terrorist schemes in order to entrap otherwise innocent people; and away from the warrantless surveillance of thousands of Americans. in other words, the second term Obama should show himself publicly in opposition to Bush era crimes dressed up as laws.
-- Finally, specific to the Middle East, Barack Obama can: a) get out of the way of Palestinian efforts to achieve more meaningful membership status at the UN, and b) he can pardon the Holy Land Foundation leaders who have been unfairly convicted of supporting terrorism in one of the 21st century's most outrageous miscarriages of justice.
Will the Barrack Obama who shows up for the second term fight for any of these things? My own guess is that what efforts there are in these directions will be lukewarm at best. They will be watered down by incessant compromise. Not because that is the way politics must be played (certainly the Republicans haven't met anyone half way this side of the Tea Party), but because that is the way the real Barack Obama wants to play politics.
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