I wake up every morning wondering, what do I do now? Where do I go? I feel very alone. Cut adrift. I alternate between absolute despair and blinding fury at those who have turned their backs on their principles to worship at the feet of Barack Obama and his New! Democratic Party. I am sick at heart at those who parrot WH talking points and who accept on blind faith what is spoon fed to them via Access Bloggers and the so-called Progressive media.
On November 3, 2008 I wrote I Want to be Wrong, about the impending election of Barack Obama.
Progressives should not see this as a great victory. Obama’s words have often not matched his record and I strongly suspect that he will disappoint many who have placed their faith in him.
If nothing else, this election should inform Obama that the people have turned their back on the neo-con world-view. They long for something better. I only long for one thing: To be wrong.
At that point, I had turned in my Democratic voter registration card for a Non Partisan card. My heart then and now is staunchly liberal, and I don’t apologize for it.
. . . have I mentioned that I really hate the label “progressive?” From the very beginning of its modern usage amongst the Democratic faithful I understood what that word meant: capitulation to the right wing meme that all things “liberal” were evil. I’ll never run from the Liberal label. Please, don’t ever call me a Progressive.
So, here I am, nearly eighteen months later and the depression is keen and I wonder why I continue to care. I am beat down, not by Barack Obama (for I have no illusions about who he is), but instead by the people who I thought were on my side who continue to embrace everything Barack Obama does and twist themselves into pretzels to not only approve, but to cheer his every rightward move. Back in November I wrote:
I’ve read posts from many of you in the “progressive” blogosphere that once Obama is elected “we” must be sure to Hold His Feet To The Fire. I assume you are speaking to your collective “we” because I’ve already done that. I intend to keep on doing so. You, on the other hand, did not. Some of you, in full-throated approval, cheered his every move and justified his every stance and flip/flop. Some of you, in spite of your misgivings, cast your vote for him anyway and in doing so let him slide on so many issues, just to get a “D” into the White House. I cannot see how you are going to have any leverage. Why should Obama listen to you once he’s ensconced in the Oval Office? He got what he wanted from you. He won’t have to talk to you for another four years, when the contract is up for renewal.
When I go to buy a car I have one cardinal rule: I must be willing to walk away at any time. No matter how badly I want the car, and even if the salesperson knows it, I must be able and willing to walk away. The minute I sign the contract, I’ve lost all bargaining power. The time for Progressives / Liberals / Democrats to hold Obama’s feet to the fire has passed. You signed the contract. You own him.
I’m still waiting for that “feet to the fire” stuff. Oh, to be sure, there are some people that are waking up. But too few. Far too few. Instead I’ve seen throwing women under the bus defended as “upholding the status quo” so that Obama could claim victory in passing a Health Care Reform bill straight out of the Heritage Foundation (and had GW Bush proposed it, would have been slammed by the “left” every which way from Sunday). But it’s not just the HCR bill. Goodness no. It is the continuation and virtual embrace of everything the “progressives” hated about GW Bush and the neocons. To make matters worse, the progs would rather spend their time mocking the “tea baggers,” Sarah Palin, and Glenn Beck instead of looking at their own complicity in the whole mess.
The Democrats and their liberal apologists are so oblivious to the profound personal and economic despair sweeping through this country that they think offering unemployed people the right to keep their unemployed children on their nonexistent health care policies is a step forward. They think that passing a jobs bill that will give tax credits to corporations is a rational response to an unemployment rate that is, in real terms, close to 20 percent. They think that making ordinary Americans, one in eight of whom depends on food stamps to eat, fork over trillions in taxpayer dollars to pay for the crimes of Wall Street and war is acceptable. They think that the refusal to save the estimated 2.4 million people who will be forced out of their homes by foreclosure this year is justified by the bloodless language of fiscal austerity. The message is clear. Laws do not apply to the power elite. Our government does not work. And the longer we stand by and do nothing, the longer we refuse to embrace and recognize the legitimate rage of the working class, the faster we will see our anemic democracy die.
The unraveling of America mirrors the unraveling of Yugoslavia. The Balkan war was not caused by ancient ethnic hatreds. It was caused by the economic collapse of Yugoslavia. The petty criminals and goons who took power harnessed the anger and despair of the unemployed and the desperate. They singled out convenient scapegoats from ethnic Croats to Muslims to Albanians to Gypsies. They set in motion movements that unleashed a feeding frenzy leading to war and self-immolation. There is little difference between the ludicrous would-be poet Radovan Karadzic, who was a figure of ridicule in Sarajevo before the war, and the moronic Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin. There is little difference between the Oath Keepers and the Serbian militias. We can laugh at these people, but they are not the fools. We are.
The longer we appeal to the Democrats, who are servants of corporate interests, the more stupid and ineffectual we become. Sixty-one percent of Americans believe the country is in decline, according to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, and they are right. Only 25 percent of those polled said the government can be trusted to protect the interests of the American people. If we do not embrace this outrage and distrust as our own it will be expressed through a terrifying right-wing backlash.
“It is time for us to stop talking about right and left,” McKinney told me. “The old political paradigm that serves the interests of the people who put us in this predicament will not be the paradigm that gets us out of this. I am a child of the South. Janet Napolitano tells me I need to be afraid of people who are labeled white supremacists but I was raised around white supremacists. I am not afraid of white supremacists. I am concerned about my own government. The Patriot Act did not come from the white supremacists, it came from the White House and Congress. Citizens United did not come from white supremacists, it came from the Supreme Court. Our problem is a problem of governance. I am willing to reach across traditional barriers that have been skillfully constructed by people who benefit from the way the system is organized.”
We are bound to a party that has betrayed every principle we claim to espouse, from universal health care to an end to our permanent war economy, to a demand for quality and affordable public education, to a concern for the jobs of the working class. And the hatred expressed within right-wing movements for the college-educated elite, who created or at least did nothing to halt the financial debacle, is not misplaced. Our educated elite, wallowing in self-righteousness, wasted its time in the boutique activism of political correctness as tens of millions of workers lost their jobs. The shouting of racist and bigoted words at black and gay members of Congress, the spitting on a black member of the House, the tossing of bricks through the windows of legislators’ offices, are part of the language of rebellion. It is as much a revolt against the educated elite as it is against the government. The blame lies with us. We created the monster.
I don’t know if there is any controlling the monster. Nothing seems to make a dent in our national discourse. I used to believe that it was possible to work within the system, but I no longer feel that way when I see how it has been rigged against any voices that represent interests outside those of our political and corporate overlords.
And so I wonder… where to go from here? Iceland? Not likely, or at least, not any time soon, so what do I do?