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Bucking Up For Barry

By       Message David Michael Green       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   8 comments

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Phew! That was a close one!

For a moment there, I was spiraling down and down, descending into a bathetic pile of self-pity, thinking about the sad state of my country.

What a fool I was. I'm sure glad that Vice President Biden was good enough to give me a cold slap of reality in a speech this week, when he said that unhappy progressives need to "buck up" and "stop whining." Good point, Joe!

And thanks to President Barack, too, for bringing me to my senses by admonishing us that "It is inexcusable for any Democrat or progressive right now to stand on the sidelines in this midterm election. The idea that we've got a lack of enthusiasm in the Democratic base, that people are sitting on their hands complaining, is just irresponsible."

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I was a little confused about these comments at first, given that progressives have been almost entirely excluded from Obama's cabinet and White House team these last two years. I was a little puzzled by these remarks initially, since the administration has blown off liberals in every single one of its key legislative initiatives or policy decisions. And I was a bit perplexed when I first heard these statements, given that Obama and his team have been widely reported to not only be uninterested in the preferences of the progressives in their base, but also to be condescendingly dismissive of us good folks in the "professional left." You know -- the ones who will only "be satisfied when we have Canadian health care and we've eliminated the Pentagon," as his press secretary recently described us.

But then I realized what a fool I was being. Then I saw that I needed to stop whining so much. I realized it was time to buck up for Barry.

The president said, "Everybody out there has to be thinking about what's at stake in this election." And he's right. And so I did. I thought about what's at stake, and I realized that this is a really important election after all. I realized that things could be one helluva lot worse next year if we progressives don't stop whining and if we don't start bucking up, and fast!

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Think about it.

We could end up with a government that instantly responds to the five-alarm fire of economic meltdown by bailing out the very Wall Street banks that created the mess, one hundred cents on the dollar, while doing next to nothing for the other ninety-eight percent of us in the middle and working classes.

We could have a government that is populated by proteges of Robert Rubin, the Goldman Sachs wonder boy whose enthusiasm for deregulation while he was Bill Clinton's Treasury Secretary has now crashed the global economy.

We could have a government that refuses to seriously reform the deregulatory policies that got us into this crisis. Maybe it would pass a "reform" bill, but you can bet the law wouldn't actually deal with key threats like derivatives. Nor would it separate ordinary banking from market speculation. And it would probably leave us with banks that are more gargantuan than ever, and more "too big to fail" than they were in 2008.

We could have a government that doesn't spend any political capital whatsoever on creating temporary jobs to keep people afloat during a crisis, and doesn't even care much about extending their unemployment benefits during the deepest recession since the Great Depression.

We could have a government that runs a mortgage relief program supposedly designed to keep people from losing their houses, but instead leaves sinking homeowners worse off than if they hadn't applied at all.

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We could have a government that continues the Bush era legislation that actually gives tax incentives to corporations picking up their manufacturing plants and all the jobs associated with them and exporting everything overseas.

If we don't buck up, we could wind up having the kind of person George W. Bush might pick for running the Pentagon as our Secretary of Defense.

We could find ourselves mired endlessly in some Asian war whose purpose can't even be identified. Heck, if you thought Bush was bad, the next government might go so far as to triple the number of troops in Afghanistan.

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David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York.  He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles (, but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. His website is (more...)

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