President Barack Obama recently announced his firm intention to run for a second term in 2012. Somehow, that news does not leave me feeling overjoyed. Perhaps it is the timing of his announcement, coming in the face of an imminent federal government shutdown. Or perhaps it is a lingering concern that, while the Middle East was going up in flames, President Obama was promoting trade with South America down in Rio. But in any event, for us progressive liberals, he is likely to be the best we can do -- now, we need to see the best he can do, so here is my own 2012 Top Ten List for Barack Obama:
Say what you will do, and then do what you say: When you promise to extricate us from two fruitless and needless wars, really do so, and do so promptly. When you promise to close Guantanamo, really do so, and do so promptly -- that means, no military trials there. When you promise to stand up to the Tea Party and all the other reactionaries, then do it.
Stand up to Big Energy and Big Oil: Don't advocate more drilling in the Gulf and other locations, which you did immediately before the BP oil spill disaster. Don't promote the further spread of nuclear energy plants unless and until all safeguards are in place. And make sure that the hazards of coal mining and natural gas fracting are taken into account.
Protect vital programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid: Trying to cut federal budget deficits by hurting America's elderly, poor, and sick is just plain wrong. All of these, and similar, programs need to be strengthened, not undercut, and particularly not undercut by a Democratic President. Speak forcefully on behalf of these programs.
Protect the environment and really move on Global Climate Change: Paying only lip service to valid environmental concerns is not enough. The Environmental Protection Agency needs to be strengthened to become a major advocate for sustainability and the reduction of all types of pollution. If these steps are not taken now, it will be too late.
Resolve immigration issues humanely and sensibly: Challenge any draconian State laws which involve explicit or implicit racial and ethnic profiling. Speak out forcefully on behalf of those who pick our fruit and vegetables, clean our hotel rooms, and often do other jobs which Americans shun. Make finding a path to citizenship for them a priority.
Fight for workers' rights and labor unions: The Democrats have traditionally been the Party of working men and women, but you have only paid lip service to the struggles of workers in Wisconsin and elsewhere to maintain their right to collective bargaining. Be there on the front lines of every challenge to their hard-won rights; they built this nation!
Really protect America's safety and security: As the tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 tragedy approaches, totally re-structure the Department of Homeland Security and those agencies it supposedly supervises, such as the FBI and CIA, into a united front with the capability to think creatively and act forcefully whenever/wherever we're at risk.
Pick better people to carry out your plans and programs: Those like the head of General Electric, who engineered his firm's paying zero federal taxes on over $14 billion of earnings, have zero credibility in your administration. The corporate fox cannot watch the American henhouse with credibility. Actions do indeed speak louder than words.
Remind Michelle Obama that she is not "co-president": While your wife's efforts to reduce childhood obesity and get Americans to grow their own vegetables are valuable, her hasty endorsement of WalMart for, perhaps in five years, carrying a healthier diet for us is really inappropriate. Endorsing private companies should not be a First Lady duty.
Most of all, stand up for the Democrats' progressive values and approaches on behalf of all Americans: We need you to represent us with courage, compassion, fortitude -- and with real backbone. Between now and the November, 2012 election, we need to know that you are, indeed, the Barack Obama to whom we gave our trust four years ago.