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A good and really smart friend posted this the other day. “I want Bernie Sanders or Barney Frank or Michael Moore for president. Or for someone to change Hillary’s mind and have her contest Mr. Obama for the party nomination next year. Anyone else on the left with a hefty set of stones.” But he is not the only one saying such things, several people have posted similar sentiments, or have railed against the President Obama’s lack of agressiveness in negotiations with Congress. Obama battled his own party early in his presidency, and at the mid-term elections was faced with a republican/tea party majority hell-bent on refusing to negotiate anything at all with the executive officer of the United States. Several amazingly intelligent friends and colleagues truly believe that the POTUS is a wimp. And this is not a new charge against the president. This last weekend the New York Times ran an op-ed piece highlighting the ways in which this president had not been a strong leader, according to Elizabeth Drew regarding the recent vote to raise the debt ceiling, “In the end, the President had made the Republicans look bad, but what did he get for it? He ended up agreeing to new restrictions that will hamstring his policies for as long as he serves in office. His own actions will have led to new laws that forbid him to borrow money for any government policy—unless, at some time, he goes out and campaigns hard for raising taxes in any form. His actions so far shed light on how likely that is.”
I emphatically disagree with these sentiments about President Obama. I am actually very impressed that Mr. Obama has not buckled under pressure from the left and his electoral base to pander to extreme politicos and retaliate or respond to aggression with more aggression. The strength of character it takes to lead in times of crisis is enormous. The president has not swayed in his steadfast centrist ideologies.
I will agree that Mr. Obama has not accomplished everything he promised, or fulfilled every pledge of his campaign. Yet, I am not dissuaded from supporting his efforts because he doesn’t allow himself to be drawn into a pissing match that essentially the left and the right have been engaged in for more than fifteen years. His tactic from the beginning was to create an opportunity for negotiations and in the end to take what he can get for the best possible outcome and for the most of the American people.
He has been a centrist all along. The radical nature of his being the first African-American President blinded many leftists and scared many rightists into believing that Mr. Obama was intent on dramatically changing the role of government in our lives. I do believe that he is very interested in changing government, but in a more measured-centrist manner.
Things suck for most Americans. Things are gonna suck for a long time and they are gonna get more difficult and effect us in ways that we can’t even imagine right now. But this President is not sitting idly by, he is forcing congress to try to resolve the issues themselves with the will of the people whom they are elected by. Mr. Obama is leading by example. He is asking for negotiations with integrity and not entering into the fray when the dialogue is less than so. But he is not sitting idly by either. True to his academic nature, he is studying the problems, learning the root causes of the issues and trying to change what he can and influence where he can.
The “Yes We Can” slogan of Mr. Obama’s campaign was not, “Yes He Can”. We have to take responsibility for our government and hold our congressional elected officials responsible for the policies that we want to happen. As Americans, our failure to get involved in local and national politics is what has led to this national economic crisis and we are reaping the seeds that we have sown. If we want something different we have to plant, and tend some other crops; we need to act as our own government… afterall isn’t that what democracy is all about?
[UPDATE:] Even George Clooney agree should prove mys! (That should prove my point, right?!)
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“He has been a centrist all along. The radical nature of his being the first African-American President blinded many leftists and scared many rightists into believing that Mr. Obama was intent on dramatically changing the role of government in our lives.”
One of the best descriptions of how Americans reacted to this president. Your insight is better than most regular op-ed writers.
I do take exception to your characterization of Obama as “centrist” however. He is clearly serving the needs of power and privilege, which means he isn’t on the side of a vast majority of Americans. That has nothing to do with the political center of America.
But then that is what I expected of him, while many of my peers were running around comparing him to FDR in 2008. Obama is, much like Clinton before him, to the right of Nixon. Clinton pulled the American center to the right, and paved the way for W. Which is pretty much what Obama is doing right now (one shudders at the field of potential replacements).
That does not make him an exemplary leader, who is facing down the ugliness of the extreme right which is increasingly the mainstream of the GOP. It makes him a successful president, who is serving the needs of his constituency, who isn’t us.
I respect the opinions here and on Facebook about this topic, I just personally disagree. I don’t see Obama as pandering to corporations so much as choosing his poison. Do I like that? Hell no, but I also don’t think there is much of a choice on the matter given the way American politics and corporations are currently engaged with one another. I think Obama’s efforts to re-regulate and to stream-line government rules plays into this notion, but it will never be perfect and it will most definitely not ever be radical.
I disagree that Obama is pulling the Center to the Right… I think the long view shows that he wants to move the country back to Center, but that he is struggling to get the Right on board to his way of doing things. My point is that Obama is not interested in “facing down the ugliness of the extreme right.” That work is for us to do. And if we want to move our agency of governmental rule back towards the Center, we had better damn well get involved with doing the work of facing the extreme right.
Obama’s academic nature, relies on his not wanting to get his hands dirty. But that academic nature has not changed – just the public’s perception of Change Leadership has changed. I stand by my opinion: We cannot leave the Change up to He; we must work toward positive change in American politics and wrest back out government from Rightist Extremists.
Agreed, change is up to the people. But part of that is criticism of those who currently hold power.