Monday, April 16, 2012

Between Barack and a Hard Place

Unfortunately, history repeats itself all too often. We humans rarely seem to have the wisdom or wherewithal to avoid repeating our past blunders even within generations. Consider the bloodshed and destruction that continues in Vietnamistan, as we remain bogged down by an insurgency that, like cockroaches, will never be eradicated by force. We’ve seen this before.

On the political front, we progressives sit looking at an election some seven months away thinking we’ve been transported back to 1997. During the run up to his first term, Bill Clinton talked the talk and progressives and liberals, seeing an opportunity to oust the bumbling senior Bush, voted for the man from Arkansas with a muted sense of hope and optimism. Four years later, we knew we’d been snookered by a centrist, political animal who easily slid back and forth along the political spectrum to enact policies that were in line with the thinking of the centrist/conservative Democratic Leadership Group, which he helped found. So we had a dilemma. No progressive was going to vote for Robert Dole, but there was little enthusiasm for a second Clinton term.

Which brings us to 2012. Just over three years ago, Barack Obama campaigned for the U.S. presidency and electrified many liberals and progressives with his promise to change the way things were done in Washington. It was a powerful message after eight years of inept and irresponsible policies promoted by Bush the Younger — two unnecessary wars, a declining economy due to tax cuts for the wealthy, the loss of respect internationally, etc. Obama pledged to reverse much of what Bush had enacted, which we believed included the horrendous Patriot Act and other abusive and unconstitutional policies related to homeland security. So we voted for Obama, and surprise, surprise, the change we had been promised never arrived.

Obama has proven to be every bit as centrist and politically malleable as Clinton, and has been in some cases, worse. It started right after his inauguration when he began appointing his cabinet, which he filled with Washington and Wall Street insiders who have shown they have little interest in real change. From there it’s been downhill. Many of Bush’s most repressive and unconstitutional homeland security policies remain intact. Almost four years later we are still fighting in Afghanistan and continue to have forces in Iraq. Information has leaked out that during the recent budget negotiations in 2011, Obama was willing to give away practically everything to Boehner, essentially handing the Republicans a victory on a silver platter. Fortunately they were too stupid to make the deal and still held out for more.

Now there’s this. Despite Obama’s rhetoric on taxing the rich, a new study shows that income inequality is actually worse under our current president than it was under Bush. This is the result of fiscal policies that are the exact opposite of “change,” but even more of the status quo.

So here we are in the midst of an election year sitting right where we were in 1997. Of course, Obama’s people know that we will not vote for Romney. We are once again faced with having to vote for a Democrat who is more Republican-lite than liberal, who is willing to negotiate away Democratic priorities in some delusional bid for bipartisanship. Our so-called two-party system is a joke, and the recent Supreme Court ruling that gives corporations the same rights as individuals has only made a bad situation worse.

There is only one party in America and its name is control, not change.

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