The Occupy movement has picked up steam these past few weeks spreading throughout the U.S. from San Jose, to Portland, ME. Estimates suggest that upwards of 1,000 cities have had some sort of Occupy meetup or protest.
While protesters would rather not be labeled as liberal or leftist to keep from being painted and dismissed with a broad brush, they do represent progressive ideas and once could be considered Obama’s base. If Obama were wise, he would try to win back the base, but it may be too late.
Many progressives are fed up with him and the do nothing Congress. To be fair to the President, he has a list of achievements that have kept the country from sinking even further into the danger zone. The stimulus helped, but it wasn’t big enough to make much of a difference. TARP was a necessary evil, but did not result in significant Wall Street reform. Bailout banks no longer lend. Cash for clunkers was clever, but its impact was short-lived. Health Care Reform was so divisive that it may be dismantled before it’s true impact can be felt. Why the President abandoned the single payer system so early in the game is beyond me. The law that ultimately passed will insure more people, which is positive, but will not do much to keep costs down in the future or to reform the health care system which values profits over people.
One of the biggest disappointments for me is that we still spend billions to keep the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan where countless lives on both sides have been lost, despite the campaign promise of “bring the troops home”. And Guantanamo Bay is still open after all these years. I recall very clearly Obama’s fierce opposition to the detention facility as a global embarrassment. As to the war on terrorism, the initial fear among conservatives was that the President would favor diplomacy and dialogue over brute force. Though conservatives will never admit it, the Obama administration has been hawkish and comparatively more effective in the war on terrorism. The administration has drawn down troops in Iraq, but remains determined to stay in Afghanistan whatever the costs. And the President has been aggressive in going after terrorists killing a number of Al Queda operatives in drone attacks including eliminating Osama Bin Laden in a bold raid on his compound in Pakistan.
For progressives, maybe the most significant achievements of the Obama administration are its two Supreme Court appointments – both women who have kept the court from being overwhelming corporatist and reactionary. For this, I am grateful. Thank you Mr. President.
Unless there is a viable progressive alternative to the President, I will vote for him again in 2012. I would rather that he be the viable progressive alternative to the corporatist forces on the right who value profits over people and who view corporations as people. Time will tell, but time is running out.