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Why Obama can't blame the GOP for his inability to pass progressive legislation

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Oh, those terrible Republicans. Indeed, indeed. Who can deny it? The Republicans are bad news.

But when I hear President Obama and the Democratic leadership blame the Republicans for the Democrats' inability to pass progressive legislation, I get angry. Nancy Pelosi could have instituted impeachment hearings against Bush and Cheney once it became clear that they had misled the nation into war. At the start of his Administration, Obama could have pushed for prosecution of Bush-era crimes related to the war, torture, the politicization of the Justice Department, corruption of federal agencies, election fraud, and other matters.

In short, President Obama and the Democratic leadership's effort to shirk responsibility for effecting progressive change is belied by one salient fact: had Obama and the Democratic leadership prosecuted the Republicans for their numerous serious criminal acts, then the GOP would be in a much weaker position to mount an effective resurgence. The American people would now know the truth about what had happened, and many Republicans would be in prison or would be cowering in shame with their tails between their legs.

Pelosi and Obama DIDN'T EVEN TRY. Given the magnitude of the crimes perpetuated by the Bush gang, it's hard to see how there couldn't have been convictions and a fallout. Or at least the American public would have gotten a good political education.

The Repugs sure wouldn't have held their punches in a similar situation.

Instead, we all know what happened. Obama chose to look forward, not backwards. Obama chose to be bipartisan, not confrontational. Obama chose to hide the truth from the American people. Obama surrounded himself with advisers from the Bush Administration and from the conservative wing of the Democratic Party. Obama cut back room deals with Big Pharma and Big Insurance to eliminate a public option, the re-importation of drugs, and the ability of the government to negotiate drug prices. Obama continued Bush's bailouts of Wall Street, nixed windfall profit tax on bonuses, escalated the war in Afghanistan, and fired progressive advisers at the slightest provocation. Etc, etc, etc. See this petition.


No wonder Obama and the Dems are "struggling" to accomplish anything!

No wonder millions of progressives are contemplating giving up on the Democratic Party!

What did Obama expect? That the Republicans would play nice? That progressives would ignore his repeated betrayals? As Paul Krugman asked, is the Obama team a bunch of idiots?

I too share that healthy and natural urge to hold Obama accountable. In short, Obama actively tried to help the GOP.

But despite my extreme disappointment and anger at President Obama's poor leadership, I still think the best way for progressives to achieve their aims is for them to work within the Democratic Party to reform it. The work is unpleasant and difficult. But given the realities of the America's non-parliamentary political system, third parties have little (constructive) power. And given the damage that could be wrought were the GOP to regain power, progressive can't afford to cut off their noses to spite their faces.

I've argued this position at length here and here.

There really are many good and middling Democrats. For example, on July 27 of this year, 102 out of 250 House Democrats (40% of the Democrats) voted against funding the war in Afghanistan. President Obama had to rely on Republicans to continue funding his war. More Republicans (160) voted for the funding than Democrats (148).

So, I say: punish Obama, but don't punish the Dems in general.

How? Condemn Obama widely, pass resolutions critical of Obama in Democratic organizations, write letters-to-the-editor saying why Obama is doing poorly. But don't abandon the many progressives working within the Democratic Party to push it leftward. Such progressive Dems are particularly numerous at the local level.

The alternative is years in third-party oblivion, with likely GOP control of Congress and the White House.

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http://waliberals.org

DFA organizer, Democratic Precinct Committee Officer, writer, and programmer. My op-ed pieces have appeared in the Seattle Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and elsewhere. See http://WALiberals.org and http://TruthSite.org for my writing, my (more...)
 

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Yes,it must be election time again.congress has si... by liberalsrock on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010 at 8:19:56 AM
Oh, but I agree that Obama and much of the Democra... by Don Smith on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010 at 9:42:08 AM
...by, essentially, bribing their way into power. ... by Taylor on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010 at 10:18:49 AM
You want progressive legislation? Go hereclick her... by www.dmocrats.org on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010 at 1:23:05 PM
The Religious Right did not have a lot of money. T... by Don Smith on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010 at 2:32:47 PM
They are only used by Republicans and receive lip ... by BFalcon on Wednesday, Aug 25, 2010 at 2:23:57 AM
The main problem with this idea is that the leader... by Evelyn Pringle on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010 at 10:17:14 AM
Take a look at Ron Paul--- a Republican. Note how ... by Elizabeth Hanson on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010 at 11:19:35 AM
I don't know about you, but I don't think Obama ha... by Kevin Gosztola on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010 at 11:18:58 AM
Just performed at the Melody Tent in Hyannis, Mass... by Taylor on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010 at 12:35:41 PM
When the healt care bill got the sixty Senate vote... by Guitar Chris on Wednesday, Aug 25, 2010 at 9:13:36 PM
The Dems had it in their power to destroy the GOP ... by Josh Mitteldorf on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010 at 11:59:12 AM
Ya, keep voting for the same crap over and over ex... by dumpthedlc on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010 at 12:23:24 PM
A worthy argument. However, what if we had McCain ... by Guitar Chris on Wednesday, Aug 25, 2010 at 9:23:52 PM
Truly, none of the choices are good. Even fleeing ... by Don Smith on Thursday, Aug 26, 2010 at 12:27:01 AM
I'd go even further, Don. I think Congress' sudden... by Perry Logan on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010 at 12:59:03 PM
I definitely hear you on that. Strong post, Mr. Lo... by Taylor on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010 at 1:10:08 PM
We must all, right left and center, demand that al... by Bia Winter on Wednesday, Aug 25, 2010 at 9:29:58 AM
I don't recall the details, but I know that there ... by Don Smith on Thursday, Aug 26, 2010 at 12:09:19 AM
Strong reasoning. Obama went into politics to do g... by Chantal Laurent on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010 at 1:39:00 PM
And I am completely finished with the Democratic P... by Charlene Richards on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010 at 2:24:00 PM
What's a good name for the new party? You should h... by Guitar Chris on Wednesday, Aug 25, 2010 at 9:50:18 PM
And I am completely finished with the Democratic P... by Charlene Richards on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010 at 2:29:28 PM
I share your opposition to the GOP and to many of ... by Don Smith on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010 at 2:46:20 PM
branding.A little seed money, a hot website, excel... by Charlene Richards on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010 at 2:53:48 PM
Figure it out, People!!!... by Bia Winter on Wednesday, Aug 25, 2010 at 9:35:26 AM
We would have to get people used to handcounting i... by Guitar Chris on Wednesday, Aug 25, 2010 at 9:53:33 PM
What would be different between the New Party and ... by Taylor on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010 at 4:08:05 PM
You are on to something. From the early appointmen... by Guitar Chris on Wednesday, Aug 25, 2010 at 9:37:08 PM
President Obama and the Democratic leadership blam... by Michael Green on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010 at 1:09:15 PM
Ha! You had me going there. I was with you up unti... by Chantal Laurent on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010 at 1:16:54 PM
We aren't going to break the cycle without more pl... by Kevin Gosztola on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010 at 1:39:15 PM
good progressive candidates. I know I won't. I als... by Michael Shaw on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010 at 2:03:04 PM
This is a new low in finding ways to bash the admi... by ssg13565 on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010 at 2:18:11 PM
This administration is NOT trying to get "my" agen... by Charlene Richards on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010 at 4:07:34 PM
You have given the perfect explanation why progres... by ssg13565 on Wednesday, Aug 25, 2010 at 6:57:05 PM
You are right, the Republicans would gut what's le... by Guitar Chris on Wednesday, Aug 25, 2010 at 10:34:39 PM
You said, "Obama and Reid could have done whatever... by ssg13565 on Thursday, Aug 26, 2010 at 10:43:32 AM
There has been no attempt to pass progressive legi... by Matthew Peters on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010 at 3:02:45 PM
The Democratic party in the Senate (with its self-... by Robert Cogan on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010 at 3:28:16 PM
Perhaps what is needed is not a new party but a mo... by Marika on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010 at 4:06:26 PM
be flushed down the john with a flick of the wrist... by Charlene Richards on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010 at 4:20:00 PM
Right O cannot blame the GOP but, in my view he ca... by Cole Epstein on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010 at 4:54:27 PM
The whole case was laid out in full for prosecutor... by Charles Blaisdell on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010 at 6:19:41 PM
First of all we need to be specific about what is ... by Susan Rapp on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010 at 7:36:21 PM
- seem to think a party is something you affiliate... by Jim Arnold on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010 at 9:06:14 PM
Some people are far too comfortable with this two-... by Kevin Gosztola on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010 at 11:22:06 PM
However, we have a problem. If there was a chance,... by Guitar Chris on Wednesday, Aug 25, 2010 at 11:13:18 PM
There's a long discussion thread at the Democratic... by Don Smith on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010 at 11:39:36 PM
In a fair fight, you would be correct, but it is n... by Freddie Venezia on Thursday, Aug 26, 2010 at 12:28:24 AM
Great comment, Mr. Venezla. So, you're saynig that... by Don Smith on Thursday, Aug 26, 2010 at 2:12:05 PM
Fantastic Article Don. Just keep doing what you ar... by Miguel on Wednesday, Aug 25, 2010 at 10:22:03 AM
you make me want to stamp my little foot, Miguel.... by Jim Arnold on Wednesday, Aug 25, 2010 at 11:41:08 AM
Ahhhh Music to my ears.... by Miguel on Wednesday, Aug 25, 2010 at 2:50:06 PM
My My, I wonder if you are being sarcastic or if y... by Guitar Chris on Thursday, Aug 26, 2010 at 12:52:51 AM
I have been canvassing for Democratic candidates w... by Freddie Venezia on Wednesday, Aug 25, 2010 at 11:18:15 AM
I worked the Census last time and got the same thi... by Guitar Chris on Thursday, Aug 26, 2010 at 12:58:47 AM
We all need to face up to the reality as presented... by ssg13565 on Monday, Aug 30, 2010 at 9:51:30 AM
It's obvious that neither Party wants to talk abou... by greg timmons on Wednesday, Aug 25, 2010 at 3:40:23 PM
Well, no less than 25 former Defense Dept. Officia... by Susan Rapp on Wednesday, Aug 25, 2010 at 7:54:46 PM
There are at least 1000 architects and engineers, ... by Guitar Chris on Thursday, Aug 26, 2010 at 1:06:06 AM