Here is the problem for liberals: we need to protect the Democrats from the anger their policies have generated while pushing them to implement the promises they made to win the 2008 election.
The most unfortunate outcome in the November 2010 elections would be significant political gains by the movement led by Sarah Palin and the Tea Party reactionaries. A close second negative would be the takeover of Congress by the Republican Party committed to downsizing and disempowering government from its responsibility to protect the nation and the most vulnerable people from the wild swings of the capitalist market.
President Obama’s policies make it difficult to rally the voters who voted for hope and change, his glittering generalities not yet implemented but of special importance to liberals. On March 29, Obama changed federal policy by allowing and promoting drilling for oil offshore California and the eastern seaboard from Florida to Virginia, violating the promises he made to environmentalists. Despite the terrible explosion and oil spill that now threatens vast areas of the US, Obama insists that he will continue the new drilling program once the current crisis has been overcome. The oil companies were preferred over the environmental groups,
In his State of the Union address on January 27, Obama confirmed his campaign promise by calling for repeal of the “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” DADT policy. Less than a week later, Admiral Mike Mullen, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate committee that repealing the policy that prevents gay men and women from serving openly in the military was “the right thing to do.” But that policy has not been repealed. DADT is still the law of land.
Obama promised to close the infamous torture prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba within one year. One of a half years later it is still open and functioning, a blot on the human rights reputation of the US, a negative symbol that encourages people all over the world to oppose US policies and interests.
Obama has continued the Bush policies of wiretapping without a warrant Americans and others suspected of criminal activity, violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA 1998) that requires a warrant issued by a federal judge. So much for adherence to the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
While these are some of the Obama promises of special importance to liberals, all American voters are concerned with the lack of progress on reducing unemployment, restoring the economy, controlling the power of the big banks, the ballooning federal deficit and the endless war in Afghanistan. On all these, the record of the administration is weak
On each of these issues, millions of voters are disappointed and disillusioned. Even a confirmed centrist like Obama needs to live up to his promises and commitments and public expectations. There is sure to be political erosion in November away from Obama and the Democratic regime – and from constituencies that are not necessarily liberal. Isn’t everyone an environmentalist to protect our beautiful homeland? Doesn’t every American love and respect the Constitution?
This blog post originally appeared on The Relentless Liberal on May 4, 2010.