Which is worse? A Democratic Party that abandons its ideals of social justice and equal opportunity for all, or a Republican Party that is controlled by greedy and often corrupt Wall Street and oil interests? The answer now is it doesn’t matter. It has become apparent that the Democratic Party, at least in the persona of the President, has adopted the Republican platform lock, stock, and barrel.
Over the last several decades, Democratic presidents have consistently reduced the federal budget deficit, while the same deficits ballooned under Republican leadership. But President Obama, with his new tax proposal, has reversed this trend.
Despite the fact that the actions of George W Bush clearly confirmed that tax cuts for the wealthy do nothing to create jobs or improve the economy, President Obama has now announced a continuation of the “rich get richer” Bush/Christie policy. All at the same time we are fighting two wars without asking the American public to sacrifice. And Obama’s promises to end the travesty in Guantánamo and quickly repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell have succumbed to Republican tyranny.
Some of my liberal friends say that Obama is not all that bad. After all, he managed to push his health care program through Congress. True, but the credit for this accomplishment is primarily due to the work of the Democratic congressional leadership. President Obama’s “hands off” approach until the very last minute on health care as well as deficit reduction, and his capitulation on every major Republican platform issue have not given us the change that the majority of Americans have voted for.
The health care plan we got, while an improvement, is nothing more than the Republican plan that was crafted by Bob Dole in the early ‘90s. The insurance companies get richer while everyone’s premiums go up. Meanwhile, the Republicans are willing to sacrifice the well-being of the American people just to hand the President one defeat after another. Their holding unemployment insurance hostage to tax cuts is unconscionable while their benefactors reap billions of (often taxpayer) dollars in bonuses. The so-called “liberal” New York Times calls in the editorial page for support of this bill because the paper feels it’s the best we can get. Perhaps. But if Obama had been more involved earlier, and had used the bully pulpit more effectively, we would not have been held hostage to make progress.
One thing President Obama should have learned from the mid-term elections is that Democrats who act like Republicans lose their elections to real Republicans. Maybe this is OK with him. Maybe he has already realized that to be an effective chief executive it is sometimes necessary to roll up one’s sleeves and get dirt under your fingernails – and that’s just not the way he operates. He has already made history, and perhaps his goal is to return to teaching constitutional law and writing books, which is less stressful and more lucrative.
Meanwhile, Republicans have cleverly gotten their windfalls for the rich while bursting the deficit under a Democratic president. I’m sure their spinmeisters will use this to great advantage in the 2012 election.
Conceivably, Obama could be primaried from the left – a Howard Dean or Russ Feingold. Both would make the race interesting, competitive, and real. But any challenger from the left would have a tough time getting his or her message through the sound byte-loving corporate media. Obama won in 2008 because he was clearly the better candidate. If he runs in 2012 as the lesser of two evils, he will be a one-term president.
The demise of the American dream started under President Ronald Reagan’s “starve the beast” approach thirty years ago. Could Obama’s transformation into a faux Republican president, and the subsequent election of a Republican in 2012, seal our fate? I am very discouraged.