[Yesterday I posted to OpEdNews the article copied below. Contributors to and readers of OpEdNews tend to be quite progressive or socialist. Many of them refuse to support the Democratic Party, saying that it’s as bad as (or worse than) the Republicans. You can read comments on my article (155 comments at the time of this writing) at OpEdNews. Some of the commenters agree with me. Others argue that Obama and the Dems are worse than the Republicons. I wrote the article below to refute such (quasi-)radicals’ thinking.
I want to help undivide the Left.
I’m in the middle. Leftists on OpEdNews think I’m too centrist, because I work with the Democrats. Some of my colleagues in the Democratic Party think I’m too critical of Obama. They tell me to back off, lest the Republicans win in November. Below I’m just telling it the way I see it, but written in a style that would appeal to somewhat radical leftists. Unfortunately, what I have to say ain’t pretty. But locally and in most states, there are plenty of worthy Democrats fighting to save the country from Republican radicalism. ]
On progressive websites such as OpEdNews, it is common to find articles and comments in which angry leftists say, “The Democrats are as bad as the Republicans” or “Obama is as bad as Bush.”
I’m critical of the Democrats and Obama on many issues. (See, for example, my Petition expressing extreme disappointment with President Obama’s policies.) So don’t accuse me of being blind to the Dems’ failings — especially Obama’s. But any reasonable evaluation of the evidence leads to the conclusion that as bad as the Democrats and Obama sometimes are, the Republicans are even worse, much worse on some issues.
You think Obama is bad? Wait til you see what Romney or Gingrich or Santorum would do — especially if the Republicans control Congress.
And in Congress there are many moderate Dems, as well as some progressive Dems who are trying valiantly to do what’s right.
This doesn’t mean that I think people who refuse to vote for Obama in November are necessarily foolish — I respect negative views about Obama and do not look forward to having to cast my vote — but it does mean that the decision to not vote for Obama shouldn’t be taken lightly. Especially if the election is close.
The situation is grim, maybe a lot grimmer than people realize.
GOP and Dems by Don Smith (from Art Explosion)
So what makes me say that Obama and the Dems are not as bad as the Republicans?
Obama got rid of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. He ended the war in Iraq (at least the official war — I’m sure there are plenty of mercenaries there and who-knows-what-else). He required insurance policies of church-affiliated non-profits (but not churches) to fund health care for employees (including paying for contraception). He appointed moderates to the Supreme Court (Sotomayor and Kagan); a Republican president would have appointed right wing ideologues. He nixed (for now, at least) the Keystone Pipeline. He passed the Patient Care and Protection Act (“Obamacare”) that, despite its many weaknesses, does at least put limits on insurance company profits (see Obamacare the path to single-payer? Or to insurance companies as utilities?) and forbids them from peremptorily denying coverage. And it extends coverage to children up to age 26 and will lead to savings.
He did save the economy from collapse.
Obama and the Dems passed legislation (Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act) to regulate Wall Street and the banks, despite significant opposition from the Repugs. Yes, it was watered down, but no, a Republican president and Congress wouldn’t have allowed even that.
Obama worked to shut down overseas tax havens. (See Obama’s push on tax havens has the Swiss shivering). He signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act; Instituted equal pay for women. He removed restrictions and provided support for embryonic stem-cell research and new biomedical research (source).
On numerous occasions, the Republicans voted unanimously against Democrats’ bills. Remember? Even the watered-down bills that the Democrats proposed were too much for the Republicans. (This paragraph deserves elaboration in the form of a listing of the bills the Dems tried but failed to pass.)
Republicans have refused to confirm or allow consideration of dozens of federal judge nominees. (Perversely, Obama has rarely used recess appointments.)
Republicans deny global warming.
If Republicans had their way, abortion would be illegal, public schools and Social Security would be privatized, taxes would be cut for the rich even more. (Of course, they are largely getting their way on taxes even now; Obama has done a terrible job at fighting the GOP.) Homosexuals would be second class citizens. The EPA would be dismantled. Medicare would be scaled back. Banks and oil companies would be even more deregulated. The military would be getting even more money, and we’d probably be fighting even more overseas wars — at least judging by the hawkish rhetoric of GOP candidates.
There are many moderate and even progressive Democrats in Congress. Republicans have become so radically conservative that if Ronald Reagan were alive he would be considered a moderate. In the states, there are even more progressive Democrats. Where I live, in Washington State, most of the lower level activists are quite progressive, and the state platform is a highly progressive document. The Dems often don’t follow it, but many try.
This 3D Interactive Visualization of US Senators’ Voting Records shows, kinda scientifically, how far apart the Republicans are from the Democrats.
Yes, the Dems often sell out or wimp out — but where’s the best place to apply your energies? Especially at the local and state level, the Democratic Party is amenable to change. Kick out the moderates! When was the last time a third party succeeded in America? 150 years ago?
Why is it that angry conservatives take over the GOP while angry progressives flee the Democratic Party?
At a meeting in Seattle, I asked Dennis Kucinich what to do about Obama. Here’s what happened:
I shouted out “What should we do about Obama and his sellouts?” Kucinich smiled and shot back, “Next question.” (I’m sure he doesn’t want to go on record as being too critical of Obama.) A bit later he said that the national policies are being dictated by Wall Street and Obama isn’t really in control. (Wow, what are the mechanics of that?) So don’t overdo the blame on Obama, he said. Rep. Jim McDermott [another progressive], who spoke afterwards, echoed Kucinich’s sentiments and said he thinks the country may be headed for even worse economic conditions.
So, go ahead, criticize Obama and the Dems. But don’t pretend that they’re as bad as the GOP.
And don’t pretend that there aren’t a lot of Dems trying their darndest to save the country.
Expect angry, ugly comments below [on OpEdNews].