During his press conference on Monday, President Obama let the GOP know, in no uncertain terms, that he wasn't going to put up with their obstructionist tactics that use the debt ceiling to impose their questionable agenda on us, whether we like it or not. I hope that the President's words are followed up by strong actions and mean an end to his seemingly endless attempts to "compromise" with GOP politicians who are only interested in bringing down, or weakening his administration. As I've said before, an administration that tries to be all things to all people winds up being nothing to everyone.
The GOP continually mistakes President Obama's conciliatory approach for a lack of political conviction. In other words, they mistake kindness for weakness. The Republicans are trying to use the bogus debt ceiling to coerce Obama into compromising away years of Democratic social programs. That's why Obama's brand new tough talk has to be followed up by strong action. The question now is, will FDR's legacy be obliterated on Obama's watch, or will he step up to the plate and be a real Democrat? The choice is his. For America's sake, I hope that he chooses wisely.
The road to social justice for every American is a long, circuitous one. Over the years, those who have chosen to travel down that road, despite the roadblocks put up by many Republican politicians, have given us many things that we take for granted today. Franklin Delano Roosevelt fought tirelessly to give America Social Security which helps scores of Americans retire with dignity and lets many more know that a severe disability isn't a one way ticket to starvation. Lyndon Baines Johnson used his political prowess to shepherd Medicare through Congress and the Senate, giving seniors and the disabled a healthcare safety net that should be given to everybody.
Social Security and Medicare as rights are both measures of our evolution as a society, much as the elimination of debtors' prisons and the passing of child labor laws were for earlier generations. There was a common thread that ran through all of those steps that brought America forward. That thread was the strong Republican opposition that each of those Democratically supported socio-economic advances elicited. What turned those dreams into reality was that politicians like FDR and LBJ had the will, integrity and political courage to take a stand and fight for them! Voters weren't shy about letting FDR and LBJ know that they wanted Social Security and Medicare.
Today's Democrats seem to forget that their party is the party of FDR and LBJ, a party that has helped us evolve as a society. Many of today's Democratic electeds seem to prefer to pay homage to Ronald Reagan, the father of trickle down economics, something that has lined the pockets of the rich and emptied ours. They would rather compromise with (sell out to) the Republicans than fight for programs that protect our interests. In short, the real Democrats of the past wouldn't call them Democrats.
Programs like Social Security and Medicare have withstood the test of time, the bush tax cuts have only been around since around 2001 and have helped put us in the fiscal mess we're in today. I become disheartened when President Obama and other Democrats call making cuts to Social Security and Medicare or raising the eligibility age in exchange for eliminating the Bush tax cuts for the rich a "Grand Bargain." That's hardly what I would call a "Grand Bargain", in reality, it's a fool's bargain!
Hey DNC, let's get real, we may be Progressives and union people, but we're not pushovers! Silly us, we totally bought the "Change We Can Believe In" thing and took it at face value! Collectively, we gritted our teeth as we saw each of the President's campaign promises result in legislation that was watered down by something that looked more like capitulation to vested interests than compromise. All we could do was shake our heads when the President didn't put up much of a fight for those promises. We hit the breaking point when certain members of the President's Cabinet, made vulgar and snide remarks about progressives and unions, the core group of Democratic Party supporters.
Many of us, myself included have decided to give you a second chance and vote for Democratic candidates in November because we know that electing Republicans or Tea Partiers will result in a total corporate takeover of the USA. What we want from you in return is the realization that you can't fix America's unemployment problems with "green jobs" rhetoric alone, they will not replace the massive hemorrhaging of jobs that "free" trade caused. You have to stop the corporate outsourcing of jobs by keeping one of the President's original campaign promises of eliminating tax breaks for corporations who outsource manufacturing overseas. You have to do whatever it takes to make this happen! Since unionized jobs have helped American families realize the American dream and have been a wage and benefit pacesetter for ALL jobs in the USA, we ask you to support the Employee Free Choice Act and introduce other legislation that empowers unions, working people and the middle class!
On behalf of America's senior citizens and future retirees, we ask that you defend Social Security and Medicare and realize that it is what stands between retiring with dignity and retiring in poverty. Working people have paid into the fund for years and expect it to be there for them. Congress and the Senate have treated it as a giant piggy bank to tap when they need funds for things that have nothing to do with Social Security. Don't expect to balance the budget on the backs of seniors and the defenseless! While we're on the subject, the Presidentially appointed "deficit" commission seems to have a decidedly Republican agenda -- WHY?
Now onto an issue that you probably hoped I wouldn't raise - HEALTHCARE!! Health care reform was a major campaign promise. You had an opportunity to bring a TRUE world class health care program to the USA, rather than one that cares more about protecting the interests of insurance companies than the health of our citizens. The ONLY way that could have happened was for the legislation to be passed quickly, by a unified Democratic Party that still had a solid majority. That didn't happen, due to bickering Blue Dogs and a White House that was looking for "bipartisan" approval of the Health Care Bill. The Republicans took advantage of your party's lack of a unified message on health care to do what they do best, spread fear, uncertainty and doubt to the American public, thus giving birth to the term "ObamaCare".
At this point, I have to give my assessment of the state of the Democratic Party and it's function in our two party system. This is just some very intuitive conjecture, so take it for what it's worth. The Republicans talk a good game about patriotism to get the hearts and minds of working people but that's a smokescreen that hides their pro-corporate agenda. The Democrats always take a we're going to help working people approach while they are campaigning but once elected, return to bi-partisan mode. They have to take a bi-partisan approach out of necessity because unlike the Republicans who unite under the banner of corporatism, the Democrats can't unite under the banner of populism because it's internal structure is inherently bi-partisan. The Democratic Party is composed of Democrats and Mini-Republicans (Blue Dogs), thus making it dysfunctional. Lobbyists infest both parties with the Republicans giving them their complete attention.
Yes DNC, as I mentioned previously, we are giving you a second chance, don't blow it or unions and progressives will unite behind a viable third party in 2012!
As a Progressive and a Union member, I have always supported the Democratic party. I don't need anyone telling me that, if I don't look the other way when a Democratic administration does nasties that are worthy of Republicans, I will be responsible for electing Republicans in November. For a refreshing swig of the truth, go to my Listen Here! page.
The previous blog post raised many issues that you may have had in the back of your mind, but couldn't quite verbalize. I've finally codified the essence of my growing uneasiness with the current administration and the Democratic Party as a viable working person's alternative to the pro corporate Republican Party. Everything could be summed up in one phrase. "GO BIG OR GO HOME"!
If the health care bill covered everyone from day one of it's signing, there would have been no room for any Republican or teabagger back talk and lies. Everyone would have had a chance to see that the Democratic Party works for them, period!
If the stimulus became a Roosevelt era new deal for working people, instead of a windfall for Wall Street and the banks, everyone would have had a chance to see that the Democratic party works for them, period!
If tough trade policies brought manufacturing back to the USA and created well paying middle class jobs, everyone would have had a chance to see that the Democratic Party works for them, period!
More lives were lost in the wars in Iraq/Afghanistan than in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center! If we ended the war, and used the money to help the returning veterans get their lives back, everyone would have had a chance to see that the Democratic Party works for them, period!
The Republicans are unified in their pro-corporate idealogy. The Democrats are divided in their support of working people and have to get the approval of their pseudo-Republican blue dogs to get any legislation passed. Translation, they have to water down the legislation to get blue dog votes. We can't have two Republican Parties, a big one and a mini one and call our system two party with a straight face.
Democrats: if you want to win in November, don't blame your progressives when you lose their support - GO BIG OR GO HOME!