I find myself becoming increasingly disappointed with some of my left-leaning peers and friends. Many seem to have forgotten, or simply deny, the irrefutable truth that idealism is not a foundation for governance. This growing disconnect from reality manifests itself in these progressives expressing “deep disappointment” in President Obama and worse, destructive vows to deny support to the Democratic nominee unless their chosen candidate wins.But if one is so close-minded as to not recognize the same “voting against your seld interest” as those poor white in the solid red land, does one have the right to celebrate your perceived difference?
So for those willing, let’s take a look at why we all need to take a minute for some much needed perspective.
Let’s begin with President Obama: By any objective metric, we are better off statistically after nearly eight years of Obama. He has made important progress in tackling issues of health care, crime, racism, immigration, environmental protection, energy.
Do I think everything he’s done is perfectly aligned with my opinions? Hell no. I think his stance on The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is misguided. But TPP is not your typical trade agreement. In fact it’s a quantifiable and qualitative certainty that it’s about as comparable to NAFTA (The North American Free Trade Agreement) as Secretariat is to a mule. But even the most common criticism of NAFTA was that it destroyed America’s manufacturing sector cannot be ubderstood by anyone not schooled in the entirety of macroeconomics, whick views all aspects of a very complicated and set of policies and realities that bear no similarity to business economics.
The NAFTA agreement has been widely panned by pundits and politicians alike. Yet overall manufacturing production has actually gone up in the twent years since NAFTA’s implementation;but U.S. manufacturing is now in different segments of industry than it was pre-NAFTA. The Economist, whose editorial independence—though as concerned as all previous print media, tries to present the politics of the economy in a balanced-space method rather than it’s previous politics-neutral stances—is until very recently fiercely guarded by four independent trustees.
Several years ago it sought to assess the 10-year impact of NAFTA, and wrote that it was unfair to judge NAFTA as a job creator or a job reducer. “Trade policy is not a driver of overall employment; it affects the pattern of jobs, rather than the total number.” Yes, there are those who argue vehemently, and genuinely believe NAFTA was a job-killer, particularly those closely aligned and concerned about the dwindling influence of labor unions in a blue collar environment. But the finger of blame is more correctly pointed at the shift away U.S. shift from the low-profit-margin (hold overs from the industrial revolution) to a more services and digital related sector.
Manufacturing, as a concept however, is still widely viewed as something other than what is inaccurately called “dirty manufacturing”; be it steel related, coal related, or fossil fuel energy related. But objective analysis in academia and international trade consultancy circles continue to dispute that as a political, not factual, conclusion. From an overabundance of diverse sources—which includes noted international trade economist, Timothy Kehoe at The University of Minnesota to the Wharton School of Business to Walter Kemmsies, chief economist at Moffatt & Nichol, (an international economic infrastructure consultancy)—analysis after analysis of the 20 year history of post-NAFTA manufacturing production and employment clearly states that the political evaluations of NAFTA’s portrayal as a job killer simply is not accurate if viewed from a macro perspective.
I will also say this; I am extremely disappointed that not a single Wall Street investment bank, Insurance Company or Credit Monitoring Agency was prosecuted for the fraud they perpetrated on the U.S housing market that led to the 2007 Great Recession. Yes, President Obama inherited it from the eight-year debacle of George W. Bush’s administration, but I fully support Occupy Wall St.’s position, and Bernie Sanders’ position that this was a travesty of justice. Does more need to done? Well of course it does.
So yes, Obama did not do all I wanted. That is the reality of democracy. But given what he inherited, the unprecedented opposition he faced, and the ramifications had his opponents—McCain/Palin or Romney/Ryan) been victorious. Accomplishments, the least of which we’d have a more conservative-stacked SCOTUS, that was disasterous enough despite his two confirmations, that border on the miraculous.
- We now have the longest streak of job growth in history, adding 14.4 million private sector jobs over 73 straight months, despite that Great Recession that he inherited from Bush.
- The deficit has shrunk by over $1 trillion. Even if you look at total debt, which obviously goes up when there is an annual deficit, Obama added less debt as a percent change in public debt than either George W. Bush, or that paragon of mythical fiscal conservativism, Ronald Reagan.
- With Obamacare he brought the number of uninsured to below 10% for the first time in our history.
- His persistence, despite repeated calls by prominent Republicans to let them die, saved the auto industry, which sold 17 million cars in 2015, the most in a single sales year in U.S. history.
Those are gargantuan accomplishments. And I won’t even mention the idiocy of the high oil prices that the Republican Party tried to blame on Obama, especially given the historic stretch of low gasoline prices we have had for which he gets no credit. But that would necessitate the GOP actually having decency and integrity. 2012 Presidential candidate Rick Santorum said that Democrats “want higher energy prices.” Paul Ryan said, “What’s frustrating about the Obama administration’s policies are they’ve gone to great lengths to make oil and gas more expensive.” Similar outrageous statements were made by Mitt Romney, and the House leader John Boehner.
Obama has also protected LGBT rights by leading the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, he ended the legal buffoonery of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), he signed historic hate crime legislation, expanded access to health care without worries of pre-existing conditions, ensured equality for LGBT federal government employees, and took steps to ensure LGBT equality in housing and crime prevention. He withdrew troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, thwarted Iran’s nuclear program, removed chemical weapons from Syria, redirected relationships with Cuba, improved ties with India, and signed a climate deal in which China for the first time agreed to participate in a meaningful manner.
Admittedly, the world remains a dangerous place. Any decision on the world stage is rife with the possibility of having unforeseen undesirable impacts, but only the negatives have increasingly become the focus of a corporate media that seeks only to profit by instigating political conflict, not reporting nor even attempting to mimic its proud past of impartiality.
But to be maligned by progressives is the most short-sighted, unrealistic load of crap I’ve seen in my six plus decades. Do I wish he had done more? Sure I do, but I also recognize real world constraints. I just wish my fellow liberals would do the same. We have no reasonable justification to be disappointed with Obama; but plenty of reasons to rejoice in his extraordinary accomplishments. Leave the negative hand-wringing to right wing extremists who simply cannot admit that Obama has been successful.
Now, we have the Sanders vs Clinton war of liberal bona fides:
Let me preface with this. There could be no more foolish course of action than the current “movement” of candidates’ supporters; be they #Bernbutts or #HillsYes, which say it’s my way or the highway. Epecially at this time in history when the warlords in the GOP are determined to re-tilt the Supreme Court with as many Antonin Scalias as they possibly can in the next four to eight years.
And nothing strikes me as unworthy of intelligent liberals more than the fissure within our Democratic Party ranks being caused by passionate support for one of two great candidates. Blaming Hillary for Bill Clinton’s mistakes, blaming anyone for evolving on issues, blaming “lack-of-purity”, etc.
Let’s have the debate; let’s have the candidates give us their best. And let us each vigorously support the candidate of our choice. But once the nominee has been selected it is insane to withdraw support entirely if the choice is not your man or woman. Too much is at stake for you to take your marbles and go home because you did not get all you wanted. Once the Democrats have chosen the Party candidate, your choice is no longer between Hillary and Bernie; but between one of the two good Democrats or Trump. Nobody in their right mind could conceivably say that there is no difference between the Democrats and Republicans.
Ralph Nader once made that claim and resulted in the nightmare of George W. Bush.
The distinction between left and right has never been greater, never simpler, and certainly never more important. Celebrities like Susan Sarandon or Mark Ruffalo do nobody any favors by being coy about supporting Clinton if she gets the nomination. Sarandon is wealthy and would not be personally affected in the least by the debacle she clandestinely and tacitly endorses. We become as nuts as the other side when we withdraw support from either Bernie or Hillary because one side or the other believes that, under the auspices of being “very passionate and principled”, they are justified.
What the hell kind of “principled” person would knowingly throw so many helpless Americans into the fiery hell that a totally controlled Republican government would reign down upon the poor, the elderly and the disadvantaged?
Whoever wins the nomination deserves our full backing, no matter who we previously supported in the primaries; not because it will soothe our butthurt feelings, but because if we really give a damn about the eroding quality of life for over 50% of the population. We only enable the right-wing crazies by suggesting that only one of our Democratic candidates is worthy of fighting the insanity of the right.
Withdrawing support for the Democratic nominee, be it Bernie or Hillary, is a fool’s option. Not voting is no different than pulling the lever for the madmanTrump…or any Republican swamp creature emerges from the GOP morass. That kind of foot-stomping childishness would bring political, social policy, and economic suicide for millions in our country and the civilised world—and genocide for the elderly or non-wealthy sick.
If that represents the “new progressive” mindset, I don’t want any part of it. If you think anarchism, and genocide for a large swath of Americans is acceptable dogma, you can take your all-or-nothing attitude somewhere else. And if you think condemning the cause of women’s health rights, de-funding Planned parenthood, a theocracy of right-wing zagnuts, and a right-wing Supreme Court for the next 25 years is preferable to voting for an “imperfect” candidate, then you are condoning the gun-toting idiots wandering around in the local Target.
Passionately advocating for your choice for nominee is great. Do it with gusto, preferably with proper research of facts from expert sources to back it up. But political extortion in the guise of “commitment” clearly is a product of a generation that was taught that “everyone gets a trophy” rather than “be as gracious in losing as winning”. It’s intellectually dishonest, politically naïve, and morally bankrupt.
When Hillary Clinton lost a tough as nail primary process to eventual President Obama, she exhibited the type of attitude that brought Obama the victory, which resulted in both Obama’s historical accomplishments as well as some offsetting bitter disappointments…but it beat the Republican alternative by a country mile. And I’d bet my Great Aunt Fanny’s virginity that Clinton will and do it again if Sanders wins….and she would take any measure in her power to convince her supporters to all they can to avoid the type of melee that a GOP White House, Supreme Court and both houses of Congress would bring. I’m also confidant that Sanders, himself, will do the same.
But IIf either candidate’s supporters have the #BernorBust or #ImONLYwithHer attitude, I can only hope that some part of the sense of decency deep within you compels you to wake up and realize just how many innocent people will be hurt. It makes you worse than the hate-filled sycophants on the GOP side who are just morally bankrupt psychopaths. Let idealism guide your heart, but for the sake of all the innocent people who have endured hardship after hardship from the relentless attack from the soul-less right-wing; let realism guide your vote in November.
Harvey A. Gold