Sandy Hook

Sandy Hook

Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Progressive, Heal Thyself"

If readers haven't yet met up with The Pragmatic Progressive, now is the time to make their acquaintance with this outstanding article by Dave Phillips.

"I think it’s fair to say that many progressives and liberals are disappointed in the Obama Presidency. There is no small number of us on the left that feel he has compromised too often, not fought hard enough on core issues, and in some cases, simply been too slow in action. I share some of these frustrations.
I recognize that Health Care Reform did not go as far as we would have liked. I am certainly aware that he escalated the war in Afghanistan, that the Bush tax cuts were extended, and that the debt ceiling deal, well, it kind of stunk.
However, this isn’t just about the president. I’d also like to talk about us in the progressive population. Because, the fact is, we have disappointed too.
Let’s look at the 2010 mid-terms in particular. Aided and abetted by the Tea Party movement and the right wing “birthers,” “deathers,” and science deniers, the Republicans took back the house in what can only be described as a complete democratic blood bath. The far right marshaled their armies, disrupted town halls, spread misinformation, and busted our ass at the ballot box.
The question we should ask ourselves is how did we allow this? Where were we during the town hall hijackings in the summer of 2009? How did we allow the fringe of the fringe to dominate our discourse? Look, I know it’s easy to blame someone else–specifically the president—but is that entirely fair? I think not. Of course, I’ve heard the argument that progressives were too deflated after the so called “Capitulator in Chief’s” first two years in office. I would ask though, after eight years of Bush, if someone told you that the next president will pass Health Care Reform, save the auto industry, and repeal DADT, I think a whole bunch of us would not have only been happy—even ecstatic—but some of us would have been heading off to Rushmore with a hammer and a chisel. Now I know that there is a fuller discussion to be had on the first two years of the Obama Administration, and that’s fair. Still, I wonder how we could have given up so fast and not turned out in 2010.
It seems now that a significant number of us would like for the President to be primaried, even at the risk of handing back over the government to the people who we think are trying to destroy it. Usually, when these discussions are had, it comes down to these five candidates:
1: Howard Dean—Already said he isn’t going to run. The last time he did, he melted down with a shriek and lost to the electrifying personality that is John Kerry.
2: Bernie Sanders—Not going to run, and he’s an avowed socialist. Next.
3: Russ Feingold—Not going to run. Couldn’t get reelected in his own state.
4: Dennis Kucinich—Not going to run. Considering moving to Washington state to carpetbag a house seat now that his has been eliminated in Ohio. Sees UFO’s.
5: Alan Grayson—Not going to run. Couldn’t get reelected in his own state. Also, a bit nuts.
So, in breaking down this list, we have 5 people who aren’t going to run, and would have no chance if they did. The only thing they would accomplish would be to weaken the President and strengthen Perry or Romney. How does that not frighten you?
But let’s dig deeper. Of the 5 possible candidates I mentioned, three are legitimate. You can toss out Kucinich and Grayson right away. Decent guys, right on the issues, not a chance in hell. I love Bernie Sanders as much as the next guy. He’s the real deal. However, if Obama can get beat up for being a socialist, what do you think will happen to an actual socialist?
That brings us to the two most viable candidates. Dean, who already lost once when running for President, and Feingold who got beaten by a Tea Party candidate as an incumbent Senator in his own state.
Which brings me to a greater point, if Feingold can’t win in Wisconsin with a great record of service in the senate then why are we even discussing this? Furthermore, how weak are we as progressives if we couldn’t get out and support Feingold and Grayson in 2010 against weak opposition? Now, we want them to run for President? If so, what are we going to do differently this time around?
It’s been said, that 90% of everything in life is showing up. Well, in 2010 we didn’t show up. Our reasons for not doing so are really just excuses. We didn’t get our way, I want it all, he’s not good enough, etc. And maybe all of that is true. However, if we were looking to punish the President by not supporting our congressional majorities during the mid-terms, then I say “Job well done!” Unfortunately, that bit of petulance has also left us with a completely intransigent Republican House and a soft majority in the Senate. As you may have already noticed, that means that NOTHING gets done, not the big stuff we wanted or even the small stuff we would like. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling pretty punished myself right about now.
The truth is, if you want a more progressive President, then try electing a more progressive congress. One of the things we hated so much about Bush is that he acted more like King George than he did a President. For all his shortcomings, Obama is not George Bush. He needs congress, and we took it away from him. With it, went our progressive goals.
So here’s an idea. How about in 2012, we suck it up, support our “disappointing friend” and not only vote for him, but vote for our congressional hopefuls as well. Yes, I know, we need a viable third party. While I would never begrudge a person for voting their beliefs, I would suggest that winning is better than losing, and that forward—even in small steps—is better than backwards. And until we go to either a parliamentary system or institute run-off elections (good luck with that), then we really only have two choices, the Democrats or the Republicans. I don’t know about you, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to allow myself to be so disappointed that I forget what eight years of Republican rule was like and stay home or lodge what amounts to be a protest vote.
If you want to heal our country, I would suggest that we start with ourselves first, and let’s start now, because in 2012, there will be way too much at stake to still be in the position of sorting out our feelings and qualified misgivings."


  1. Leslie I'll call bullshit on anyone and this is pure bullshit. I/we are not the problem.

    At his place I will not play his register game to tell him so. Many will praise him and that's their choice.

    I'll always wonder if he is a repug plant.

  2. Well, One Fly, you have a right to your opinion, which I have never shared and don't share here. A "repug plant?" Hardly. Even for an official Obama-hater, that's a bit over the top.

  3. Damn I get soooo pissed at the criticisms from our liberal friends!! What did they all say when Clinton didn't give them exactly what they demanded from him...or did they even have demands like they do with Obama?? I can't friggin believe this president has disappointed the extreme left to the point they would hand over the election to one of those incompetent ignoramuses from the GOP!! These extremists need to stop reading right wing rags and pay more attention to what our president has done since taking office!

    I like the post today from Extreme Liberal's Blog too...

    Now I gotta go calm down...

  4. Look at you two. This nonsense is exactly why the left loses time and time again. The left will eat their own proving just how much they know and how right they are. I've posted on this and am guilty of it a long time ago saying I'd never go there again if at all possible.

    Any thing that I have commented at at your places was never demeaning to either of you personally. Look what comes back from you and we agree on most everything. Yes fuck bama but I do not hate the man but I disagree vehemently with his record. And because I am not allowed to disagree I become something less than you two and others who share your views.

    That's wrong,you're so very wrong/hateful and I resent the shit out of what you just did to me or others along the way that you continually chastise as being so unknowledgeable because disagreement bout bama is off the table. I don't say boo about the praise you reap on this man as it's your choice. Fine. I'm not going to say what I'd really like because of what I said before. However get it straight - I and others on the left are not the problem here and it really pisses me off you two blame us for our country's woes.

    Where will you two set up your gulag for those who don't agree with you? Someplace warm I hope as I'm tired of the winters.

  5. wow Onefly! really my comment wasn't personal at all! You guys are so defensive it's hilarious! There are MANY MANY far lefties who whine and complain because Obama hasn't bent WAY LEFT, I just find it ridiculous, that's all. NO president can give you all your dreams and wishes, if you had the chance to vote for a true socialist like Bernie Sanders you'd love that right? Well what about the rest of the country? The moderates would never vote for him so you'd be fucked again! Might as well get on board with our centrist Obama, he's the best you'll ever see in your lifetime!

  6. I'd rather be happy with my Pragmatic Democratic president than miserable with the alternative!!

  7. One Fly: Chill. I said right up there in my first comment that you have a right to your own opinion. What you have no right to do is to come here and hurl personal insults at me or anyone else on this blog, period.

    I have a lot of respect for you but I have watched you become angrier and angrier over the last year until you have, in fact, turned into an angry "Obama hater." You used to argue the merits or demerits of an issue with reason. Now your anger has gotten in the way of being able to do that.

    If and when you want to discuss the issues in a civil and reasonable manner, you will be more than welcomed here.

  8. Not impressed. Dislike his snide comments on Howard Dean, Alan Grayson, et al. Sounds like the same old sh*t we read and hear from the ghastly media.

  9. I disagree Sue and Lesly you can kiss my ass.

  10. XE: Each to his own, my dear friend. I never cared that much for Dean and I'm not really sure why. He said all the right things but there was, and is, just something that doesn't ring true for me. I have mixed feelings about Grayson. Isn't he running again in Florida? I absolutely detest Kucinich and think he's a hot headed political opportunist. I like Sanders better than any of the others, but even if he ran, there's not a chance in hell that he would be elected.

    I think Dave's point, though, is that no matter how much we might like any of these candidates, they simply are not electable.

  11. Sue: Thank you. Who'd of thunk that we two dames were such a big threat to the rest of the Blogosphere. ; )

  12. I'm only publishing One Fly's comments to prove the point I've tried to make so many times before: the far-left is as vitriolic, intolerant, unreasonable and vicious as the far-right.

    This is the last such comment I will allow on my blog. Please don't go whining to your buddies that you were not allowed to have your say because I don't agree with you. That couldn't be further from the truth. The truth is, bad manners and name calling are simply unacceptable and always have been. If you can't play by the rules, then you just can't be here, and frankly, I can't say I give a big shit.

  13. now see onefly, that really sucks!

    L, who'd a thunk we would be the punching bag for the far lefties just because we support our president! Sheeeez...

  14. As much as the far left, and maybe me too, would like to see Obama primaried, it will serve no useful purpose. Obama will be the Democratic candidate. Let me say that again.

    Obama will be the Democratic candidate.

    Don't look to 2012. Look longer. Look to 2016. The 2016 democratic primaries will be wide open. Biden will probably be the VP candidate in 2012 and he will not run for president in 2016. He is too old, among other things. So, Lefties, if we want a more progressive candidate in 2016, start working on it now.

    Realize, however, as we give ground on the middle, the republicans can shift towards the center and enhance their changes of winning in 2016.

  15. Which is why I'm uncomfortable with extremists of any ilk. They're just so damn intolerant.

  16. Jerry: I think you're absolutely right, and not for the first time, but I don't see the Republicans moving toward the center anytime soon. They sold out to the TP early on for their votes. Now the TP has them by their throats.

  17. 2016 is a long way off, 5years. Five years ago, the tea party did not exist. Five years from now, they may not exist either. And who knows what will take their place.

  18. The truth is, if you want a more progressive President, then try electing a more progressive congress.

    This should be a post all by itself. It can get lost in a sea of other discussion. It is a VERY good point.

  19. Jerry: You're just so full of wisdom tonight. However, we need to get through 2012 first. I'm sincerely afraid that if the Tea Party gets in control, we may not even have elections in 2016. They, with much help from the GOP, have already demonstrated with their voter suppression laws, anti-women's legislation and a whole slew of other bills and actions that they aren't the least bit interested in carrying on a democratic form of government.

    This is precisely why I get so upset with the far-left. I simply don't understand why they can't see that the far-right is a far greater and much more serious threat to this country than a president who hasn't delivered a perfect package.

  20. John: How perceptive you are to pull that little gem out and focus on it. Yes, yes, yes.

    I'm sorry so much of the discussion here went awry. I don't usually let this happen here and am considering deleting the whole sordid mess.

  21. I'm in Ohio and we have our own set of problems that we're fighting as I type. I'm already committed to the fight to dump my teabagger congress critter although I've threatened to move to Boehner's district and work to dump him. I'll support Obama again with reservations because to do otherwise would be plain crazy and the mere thought of voting GOP makes me break out in hives.

  22. Good Morning Leslie ... Interesting viewpoint Leslie, of course I have my own view on this as well ... and Yhank You for the link to the article by David Phillips.

  23. The list of five potential candidates illustrates the problem the far left refuses to face. Any candidate who was ideologically acceptable to them couldn't win a general election. We have to nominate candidates for the country as it is, not as we wish it was. We can see this problem well enough on the other side, where a candidate radical enough for the Christian Right Dominionists (Bachmann or Perry) or for the hard-line libertarians (Paul) would be unlikely to win the general election.

    I too am an "avowed socialist", but I don't delude myself that such a candidate could win as President. Progress is usually incremental.

    In every area of life, we generally face a choice between options of which none are perfect or even really good, but some are clearly better than others. Only in politics do people not seem to grasp this.

    LP: I really hope you don't delete this post. If you delete every post where one commenter shows up and starts throwing insults around, you've given any shit-flinger a veto over your blog content.

  24. @Kay: Good for you. Applause and kudos. You say "the mere thought of voting GOP makes me break out in hives." Me too - and staying home or voting for a third party candidate is virtually the same as voting for the GOP, imo. Very short sighted.

    @RC: Okay. . .

  25. @Infidel: Thanks. All so very true. I'm really kind of puzzled over why the far-left is so diametrically opposed to Obama and so loud and so vicious in their attacks - never giving him credit for anything. I don't remember seeing this level of hate when Clinton or Carter were president, although there was plenty of criticism, unhappiness and disappointment on the part of liberals.

    I can't help but think it has something to do with the fact that he is black. It's almost voodoo thinking in a way. Do they think that because he's black he has some sort of magical powers Clinton and Carter didn't possess? Why are their expectations so much higher and thus more unreasonable with this black president? Why are they so much more disrespectful, crude and vulgar in their criticism of this black president than they were with white presidents? And why are they so intolerant toward those who, while being critical of Obama when it's justified, refuse to jump on their bandwagon because they do understand that "progress is usually incremental" and that Obama has in fact accomplished an enormous amount despite obstructionism of historical proportions?

    I din't mean to imply that I was going to delete the post - just those comments that deteriorated into name calling and other rot gut. No, I'm not about to be intimidated into silence, not at all. Actually, I think it's kind of funny that these people feel so threatened by two women with very modest blogs - and it's not like we are the only ones supporting Obama, warts and all, or criticizing the far-left. Apparently they haven't been listening.

    LOL, I would miss having my morning coffee while reading missives from my resident stalker who just loves to tell me what a "mean angry cunt" I am - over and over and over. What a life.

  26. Suggest folks, especially members of the pissed off far-left, link to the original article and read the comments. People are saying a lot of things I wish I'd said, such as this from Maureen Gill:

    "I’m so damn tired of the turncoat progressives pissin’ and moanin’ about the president. They have no sense of history or the realities of the moment as to the Obama presidency (or as you so well noted their own multitudinous failures). I’m absolutely fed up with their asinine litany of potential primary contenders or third party candidates — all of them are absolutely impossible to get elected. I M P O S S I B L E. They may as well try to elect Eugene Debs and he’s dead.

    Most infuriating, however, is their utter selfishness and petulence. Please: explain to me how they differ in praxis from their opposites in the Tea Party? Both are hell bent on the utter ruination of the country in their fits of pique to have everything their way and refusal to compromise or take the long view."

    Or Quaker Dave's comment:

    "If “progressives” are disappointed, they have only themselves to blame, because that means they really weren’t paying attention."

    If nothing else, the comments should help to validate the beliefs of those not willing to jump off the far-left cliff, taking the country with them. It is not unusual for people who are abused almost on a daily basis to begin questioning their own powers of reason, so a little group therapy may be in order.

  27. Dreams die hard, Leslie. A lot put so many of their hopes and dreams on this president that when he turned out to be just a man they could not contain their disappointment. I do not think Clinton inspired this level of discontentment, but he never inspired this level of hope either.

  28. @Mycue: I just don't swallow this argument and for several reasons. It's like saying blame the man for being a mere mortal rather than blaming our own inability to read below the headlines - seeing the man as he really is and pretty much always has been. I think it's more than a bit naive to attach star-like qualities to any candidate and what they say on the campaign trail.

    Here's an article from 2006 that pretty well illustrates my point. Too bad more people didn't see it. In truth, I didn't see it until about a year ago but I'm kind of a born skeptic and don't expect miracles.

    I also don't believe that most of the people who are complaining the loudest were ever Obama supporters in the first place. They've been moaning and groaning since he won the nomination and before the election. Just like Southerners who are still mad over losing the Civil War, the majority of these people were Hillary supporters and are still angry that the majority didn't agree with them.

    Also, most of these folks would rather have a good case of the bends rather than give Obama credit for doing anything good. And, of course, the obstructionism from the Republicans and the Tea Party is just a myth perpetuated by liberals to excuse him for being such a huge disappointment.

    And of course he should have just walked into the White House, waved his magic wand, and all would be well with the world. All those problems he inherited from GSW never existed.

    And of course, FDR, HST and LBJ did this or that or would have handled it this way or that way. So much for facts.

    But aside from all that, no amount of disappointment - justified or unjustified - is any excuse for using the epithets and vitriol that is so prevalent on the far-left. The vulgarities and personal insults directed at the president are simply not okay; this is what separates civilized nations from Banana Republics. The personal attacks and character assassination of those who share a different opinion are also unacceptable. It's not merely childish, it's downright ugly and totally inexcusable. I don't condone this kind of behavior from the left any more than I do from the right.

    And finally, my good kind friend, I think people need to quit wallowing in anger and self-pity and work damn hard to keep those fascists on the
    right from getting in control. If you think things are bad now, you ain't seen nuttin' yet.

  29. I like what you have said above, Leslie. That said, anyone who has read my blog for a long time knows that the only thing I knew until just before the election in 2008 was that I simply could NOT vote for McCain but I was on the fence re: Hillary and Obama. Neither thrilled me. I was so unthrilled (is that a word?) that I didn't even have a campaign sign in my yard. And at the end of the day Obama got the nomination and I voted for him because I neither wanted John McCain in the White House nor Sarah Palin a heartbeat away from the presidency. I have since decided, after the immature, greedy and evil antics of the GOP in recent years, that I cannot ever vote for one of those thugs ever again so whoever runs on the Democratic ticket has my vote and I'm crossing my bony old fingers.

  30. Kay: Good for you. I have to confess that I never even considered voting for a Republican but now I'm doing everything I can to expose them for the threat that they are.

  31. This is the first time I've read a blog post where the author places some of the blame where it should lie - and thank you! I'm more disappointed in my fellow Dems and progressives than I am with Obama. All those who didn't bother to show up at the polls during the midterms don't have a lot of room to complain. Hindset is you know what, and saying "I told you so" isn't admirable, but GEEZ - look at where it's all ended up! How could people lose their faith and sensibilities so easily? What happened in 2010 is the worst thing that could have happened. It emboldened a fairly fringe party that has hijacked Republicans and set us back quite a bit. So... let's look forward to 2012

  32. SDS (forgive the abbreviation but "snoringdogstudio," while a fabulous name is - well, a bit long): Anyway, welcome and I'm thrilled that you Like what you read. "What happened in 2010 is the worst thing that could have happened." You bet'cha but I guess some folks didn't learn anything as they're sure hell-bent on repeating it. You'll just have to keep coming back because I can almost promise you that there will be more where this came from.

    Just enjoyed a brief tour of your blog. I know I've seen it recently but can't remember where I linked from - possibly Infidel? I see a lot of familiar names there. But who can forget the name? The reason for it quickly became quite obvious. I used to take care of my neighbor's BT. Lordy, I can't imagine having three fog horns blasting away at the same time!!! Lol.

    Don't stay away and I'd like to add you to my roll, okay?

  33. President Obama can count on me to vote for him, to urge others to vote for him and to join me in contributing at least a few bucks to his campaign. And of course I will vote for Democrats for the House and Senate.

    However, Obama and Dave Phillips will have to excuse how I'll be gritting my teeth when I do those things. You see, I'm a Democrat.

  34. SW: LOL. I'm not going to contribute money, partly because I don't have it and partly because I'm not THAT enthusiastic! If a Democrat runs against either of the two Republicans for the Senate, I'll vote for the Dem even if he or she has two heads. My Rep is a Blue Dogger - not all bad, not all good. But then, I don't expect perfection. ; )

  35. The list of five potential candidates illustrates the problem the far left refuses to face. Any candidate who was ideologically acceptable to them couldn't win a general election.

    Infidel hit it right on the head. As much as this country needs an actual Socialist president it will never elect one. The disgruntled left masses pissed off at Obama are in many ways suffering from a delusion. Given the current electorate in America Howard Dean, Grayson, and could never get elected president.

    I am frankly pissed off at Obama for several reasons and have clearly spelled them out on my current post but barring Jesus Christ himself coming down and endorsing another Democratic candidate Obama is the best we have for right now if you want to keep the White House.

    If the far left wants to get pissed off at someone they should look in the mirror, they are the ones that sat by while Teabaggers took over the tone of the national debate.

  36. Leslie - Again you and (some) of your commenters have hit the nail on the head, but I'll disagree on one point, success is not turning up 90% of the time, but turning up 100% of the time. We should vote for the best, most favorable candidates at every level of government at every opportunity. It's the only chance we've got. Keep turning up to vote. Spread the word and keep the faith.

  37. BB: I'm also disappointed in some of Obama's decisions but I don't think we should get so angry that we overlook what he has accomplished, which considering the current climate, is pretty impressive. And as I've said so often people are sick of hearing it, I don't remember a president I've ever agreed with all the time.

    There are just so many polls showing that the majority of Americans are more centrist - with some more left or right within a given spread. I'd love a Bernie Sanders (not so much any of the others) but I don't think the "majority" is ready to move that way.

    We can see from above how the far left reacts to being told they have some blame in the current state of affairs. Ouch. ; )

    Holte: Agree 2000%.

  38. "Health is found in what is, not in what ought to be", as someone once said to me. We can't live in a fantasy "ought" land, but rather must work towards the ideal from the real reality of today. To abdicate that responsibility, of seeing what actually *is* now and thus working for the future *ought*, is the duty of any responsible adult. To withdraw into an infantile sulk over what isn't, is to be just that: infantile. In this particular instance, give Obama another term (what are the alternatives?) AND give him a supportive Congress. Now, *that* is in our power; so DO it! - Louis Newton

  39. Louis: It is infantile - akin to, "if I don't have it all my way, I'm going to take my ball and go home."

    Have you tried commenting with your real name? I sort of have an automatic "delete" reaction to Anonymous and just saw your name at the bottom before I hit it.

  40. Les,
    This was no post for me to miss just by being on vacation! Now, I find myself engaged in a similar discussion on my own blog. We've got to have these...and then, we've got to reveal who's pulling this rope with us and who's just in the way.

    Gotta weigh in to say that David Phillips' original article is SUPERB! I highlighted this:

    "I don’t know about you, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to allow myself to be so disappointed that I forget what eight years of Republican rule was like and stay home or lodge what amounts to be a protest vote."

    My job is to plot my activist strategy and GET TO IT! If the tea party taught us anything, it's that organization and solidarity of purpose makes things change. I suggest we get some.

    The incumbent is our best shot for now. Get busy, people!

  41. Nance: I hope your vacation was worth all the excitement you missed on the Net. ; ) Yep, we need to quit whining and get to work.

  42. I would like to point a very very aggressive Obama hater to this. He would either tell me to f*** off or he would become really aggressive here. He needs to read it. I tried to say this, but I am a dolt, so he basically laughed at me.

    It would have more credibility, you know, coming from a person and stuff.

    Are you OK with me directing an often belligerent fellow to your site?

  43. John: Oh my. He's certainly welcome to read it but I can't guarantee that I'll publish his comment(s) - for a couple of reasons. As a fellow southerner says on her blog, "This is my cyber living room. Guests who pee on the rug or smash the furniture won't be invited back." (Southern Beale)

    And to be honest, John, I have no more patience with people on the far-left than I do with those on the far-right and for all the same reasons. Vulgarities, rudeness, hard-headedness, tone-deafness, ignorance of facts,etc. "Civil discourse" is impossible.

    I'll point you to another post that is even better than this one, I think. It just went up on The Pragmatic Progressive but is a reprint from The Liberal Lamp Post.

  44. What an interesting read. I think I've made it clear what I think of the Hard Left Obama Haters, a phrase I coined at my place. If Obama loses I will hold them partly responsible.

    Like others, however, I am not happy with him for a variety of reasons but the alternative is not acceptable. So I will vote for him again and hope he gets better at what he does. I will never call him names, nor will I criticize with the vitriol of others. Good post here. Glad I stopped by.