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A Message for Liberal Whiners...and the Democratic Leadership

By       Message Elayne Clift       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink

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Okay, I agree: It isn't the smartest thing in the world for President Barack Obama, Vice-President Joe Biden, and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs to tell Liberals to "buck up" and "stop whining."

But from my decidedly leftist perspective, hard-core liberals need to stop complaining and get with the program. This is not the time for kvetching, as my mother would have said. It is a time for circling the wagons, acting like a unified body with a great deal at stake, and doing whatever it takes to survive attacks from hostile forces who want to dismantle democracy as we know it, and gut governance as they forge a libertarian, if not anarchist, fantasy.

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The Jon Stewarts, Amy Goodmans, et al. (whom I love and respect) are brilliant analysts but their strategic skills leave something to be desired. It seems to me that in this crucial pre-election time they should be spending more energy rallying the left than pillorying the president. In this regard, the pouting pundits could take a lesson from MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. She is equal to their liberalism any day but she gets it: We can't win this fight if we are fragmented. We need to coalesce if we are going to prevail, and prevail we must.

Of course, at the end of the day, all the naysayers will vote to support the Democrats because they know better than anyone how frightening the alternative is. And they've been around long enough to know that in the real world you have to compromise, cut deals, promise and postpone in order to get anything remotely liberal passed in Congress. For Heaven's sake, does no one remember that less than two years ago we had the likes of the Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz triumvirate in the White House telling a puppet president how to fiddle while modern-day Rome burned?

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At the same time the Dems have done an abysmal job, President Obama included, in making sure Americans of all ilk know what they have done in the first 20 months of this administration, all of which is quite amazing and urgently important. From health care reform measures that open the way to universal coverage to helping small businesses and giving the middle class tax cuts to saving us and the world from a total financial meltdown, the contributions of this administration deserve to be recognized. Certainly they should not be ignored or trivialized. Nor should the fact that Mr. Obama has done a great deal to restore respect for America at a time when our global reputation had virtually tanked.

Sure, we liberals are disappointed about some things like continuing rendition, the dragging out of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and the quick forfeiting of universal health care based on the successful model of Medicare, not to mention that currently the health bill discriminates against women. Many of us are happy to see the back side of Larry Summers and still wonder if Timothy Geitner was a reasonable choice for Treasury Secretary. And most of us would like to see the president out there in "Fired Up and Ready to Go" mode, without the teleprompters.

Still, Barack Obama is delivering on most of his promises and while he's still on a learning curve about the "real politik' of Washington, DC, the guy is smart, he "gets it", he cares, and he works his butt off. So, no, he's not perfect and the world of politics is not fair, but please, stop whining. And learn something from the sinister crazies on the right, who have always known how and when to coalesce around their simplistic, seriously dangerous non-ideas.

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There will be time enough to do the post-mortem on the president's term(s) in office after his tenure ends. Right now, at this critical mid-term election, the task is not to self-righteously condemn those mired in the inherited messes of modern life, which are enough to swamp anyone. The task is to keep cleaning up the swamp so that the alligators don't have a chance to come back and muck it up again. And as anyone with an ounce of sense knows, the best thing to do when you're cleaning up a swamp is to keep your mouth shut.


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Elayne Clift is a writer,lecturer, workshop leader and activist. She is senior correspondent for Women's Feature Service, columnist for the Keene (NH) Sentinel and Brattleboro (VT) Commons and a contributor to various publications internationally. (more...)

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