By Betsy Ross
The Democrats keep calling me. They're asking for money. It's understandable, I guess. Ever since voting for Dick Gregory's Freedom and Peace Party presidential campaign in 1968, I've pulled the Democratic lever and even actively campaigned for Gore, Kerry, and especially for Obama.
Not a big-time donor, I made small contributions routinely. Not a campaign organizer, I put in weekly stints at the phone bank, where I happen to be very effective. Not a media pundit, I jawboned my friends, including my highly skeptical editor, to vote for the dude.
It's paying volunteers like me who help win elections. Yet, many of us grassroots activists share a sense of mounting despair, anger, and profound disillusionment with the present administration, adding up to a far bigger threat to Democrats than the Tea Baggers can muster. Yo! We're your base. Labor, women, minorities, young people, and progressives remember us?
Look what's happening:
- On September 20th, Bob Herbert, the African-American Op Ed columnist for The New York Times wrote of the "disenchantment among black voters, who have been hammered disproportionately by the recession and largely taken for granted by the Democratic Party."
- On September 17th, Steven Greenhouse of The Times reported that "like other important parts of the Democratic base" union members are down on the party. Gerald McEntee, president of the American Federal Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, told Greenhouse, "They've been disappointed that the House and Senate haven't done more, especially to create jobs."
- And what about the kids, Obama's strongest, most active supporters in 2008? They won't be back for a long time. You don't need a Pew Research Center poll to tell you that, although there was one earlier this year (http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1497/democrats-edge-among-millennials-slips).
Obama's broad-based betrayal manifests in his failure to address the banks' greedy and irresponsible practices -- without which no genuine economic recovery can occur; his incredibly misguided engagement in the grotesque war in Afghanistan in alliance with the corrupt Karzai administration; his inaction on global warming and pre-BP support for offshore drilling; his suspiciously lackluster effort to promote universal healthcare; and his refusal to stand up for the Greens in Iran and human rights activists in China, Russia, and elsewhere.
The way I see it, the most sinister turn has been the Obama Administration's stance on torture and surveillance. Let's get this straight. Torture is illegal and immoral. It is cruel and baseless. It doesn't work and even if it did, it doesn't matter. Rendition -- sending someone to another country to be waterboarded and have his nails ripped out -- is just as bad as if you did it yourself. That's now on all of us. The Obama administration's decision not to prosecute or in any way hold accountable Bush and Cheney for these crimes, going even further to legitimize their practice, will surely offer comfort to those who carry on such heinous practices in other countries and serve as a threat to people everywhere who dare to challenge authority.