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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Keeping it real

With the end of the year come both the obligatory politician interviews and media countdowns of the biggest events. Trying to keep 2009 to 10 items or less is far too challenging and I'm not about to try.

But I am struck by the Globe's look-back at Barack Obama's first year and I have to ask my fellow liberal/progressives -- what the heck have you been smoking if you are dissatisfied? The same stuff Howard Dean encountered before The Scream?

It's only been one year, so how can you have forgotten what the dawn of 2009 held after eight calamitous years of Bush-Cheney: an economic implosion, a government-sanctioned wholesale disregard for civil liberties and personal freedom, and a world that viewed us as if the United States were nothing more than something that needs to be scrapped off the bottom of their shoes.

A year later, the economy is on the road to recovery (but not there yet), our Constitution has been preserved (although Gitmo isn't closing fast enough) and Barack Obama got an undeserved but still symbolic Nobel Peace Prize.

What's more we are on the verge of historic legislation -- on par with Social Security and Medicare -- that will begin to address the health care and insurance inequities that continue to make us an outlier in the world.

A half loaf compared to the hopes and dreams of liberals? Perhaps. A major improvement over the current system? Beyond a doubt. Same applies to a recovery plan that did not center on tax cuts for fat cats.

Yet there remains a faction on the left that believes half a loaf is stale bread that ought to be tossed into the trash. It's the kind of thinking that mirrors the wing nuts on the right -- an absolutism that adopts the motto of "my way or the highway."

We can see how the right fringe of the Republican Party has pushed out or marginalized clear-thinking people who may differ with the left on the means but agree on the ends, These folks make Richard Nixon look good for heaven's sake.

But, to borrow Tom Finneran's phrase, "the loony left" isn't doing the rest of us progressives much good. Dogmatism in the pursuit of perfection is, in a word, idiotic.

My wish for 2010 is for those on the left who have spent their careers fighting for what they believe is correct to stop, take a breath and savor what has been done in a year with a president whose philosophy tracks theirs but also believes success is more important than style points.

And while you're at it, take another deep breath and avoid "The Scream."

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Blogger Judy Meredith said...

Exactly! Profound thinking well written too. Thanks from one person taking it easy for a few days.

December 27, 2009 10:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Patriot Act: Still in action

Iraq and Afghanistan: Still killing people that didn't attack us

Land Mine Treaty: Why sign it, they only kills poor people

Cash for lardass Program: Old SUVs traded in for new ones (many with 1-2 mpg improvement)

Repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell: Don't ask Obama, not a priority

Repeal DOMA : See above

I understand why centrists like Obama, but progressives know he is Clinton part 2, do what it takes to win, not what is right.

December 27, 2009 1:03 PM  
Blogger Dan Kennedy said...

Megadittos, Mr. O.L. Obama ran to the right of Hillary Clinton on health care and to the right of McCain (!) on Afghanistan and Pakistan. How lefties failed to notice that is beyond me. He is a mainstream liberal, and even that puts him to the left of nearly every president we've ever had. But he's not a left-winger. That's why he got elected.

December 27, 2009 2:25 PM  
Anonymous Joel Patterson said...

O.L., D.K., you have overlooked the numerous times candidate Obama declared that special interests had too much influence on the ways of Washington.
And now this Senate HCR bill is very much influenced by the insurance & pharma lobbies. So progressives do have a strong grievance about Obama's results on HCR.

Pharma & the Insurance lobby will push hard to weaken everything further in the conference bill.

Now, at the time of decision, if the public voice of the "Outraged Liberal" is simply "Shut up, you liberals!" then the big corporate interests get more of what they want, and the people who need help from the government get less of what they need.

If, on the other hand, the voice of the Outraged Liberal kept reinforcing the point that even non-profit insurance companies milk their subscribers like cows, and that the retiring CEO of CIGNA is getting $73 million, and that money should be spent on CIGNA patients, then the conference cmte might have more pressure on it to help people rather corporations.

Obama and Congress will do as little as we let them.

December 27, 2009 7:11 PM  
Blogger Daniel said...

Outraged Liberal: "Blah blah looney left moonbats. Blah blah, compared to Bush Obama's really cool. I've still got a good job. Our wars are out of sight and mind, so everybody should relax and shut up. Blah blah."
Personally, I wonder whether McCain would have done anything at all differently from Obama.
Every once in a while you write a post like this, urging complacency and congratulating yourself for being just the right kind of middle-class moderate (excuse me, "real progressive"), and every time it's a waste of space. But it's still a good blog, so I guess you're entitled to waste space from time to time.

December 27, 2009 7:54 PM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

Daniel, Joel and Anon: I am not saying that the issues you raise aren't legitimate and we need to maintain pressure to achieve real lobbying reform, ending two wars, the Patriot Act and Don't Ask Don't Tell, DOMA, etc.

I am saying we need a sense of perspective of what we can accomplish, what we have accomplished and what will happen if we lose a less-than-perfect from far-from-reactionary president.

We're one year into a four-year term. As we have seen, things don't happen overnight, particularly given the money and influence that corrupts the process.

But can you honestly say Obama is no better than Bush? I'm not saying "shut up." I'm saying get a grip, set reasonable expectations and don't tear down what has been achieved.

The only thing Republicans excel at are fear tactics, dividing and conquering. Don't help them.

December 28, 2009 4:51 AM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

One additional thought -- I'm guessing there's an age difference between those who agree with me and those who do not.

I know that I have a different perspective having lived through the '60s, saw our flawed but valuable leaders assassinated and heard everything we stood for ridiculed.

I laughed then at the term New Left because I never saw an Old Left. Maybe now that I'm part of the Old Left I can offer some perspective on mistakes to avoid.

December 28, 2009 5:28 AM  
Blogger Readwriteblue said...

As one of your conservative readers, I find it curious that you are arguing that your age has granted you wisdom; isn't that a decidedly conservative position?

As to our President, he has had a good year, but his youth and inexperience has caused us to lose an important opportunity in Iran. He chose to side with the worst elements in Iran’s government and not the people of that nation that wish to be free. This error will be what this year is remembered for, and may lead to more violence in a part of the world that could use more peace.

December 28, 2009 8:44 AM  
Anonymous TomG said...

I am not saying that the issues you raise aren't legitimate and we need to maintain pressure to achieve real lobbying reform, ending two wars, the Patriot Act and Don't Ask Don't Tell, DOMA, etc.

I am saying we need a sense of perspective of what we can accomplish, what we have accomplished and what will happen if we lose a less-than-perfect from far-from-reactionary president.

What needs to be done here is exactly what Daniel, Joel and Anon are advocating. Call our President out on the issues we feel he is failing, especially between now and when the WH involved itself in the conference committee deliberations on health care. Instead we have liberals telling other liberals not to criticize becuase "what will happen if we lose a less-than-perfect from far-from-reactionary president."

It's one thing to disagree with liberals on their concerns, it;s another altogether to tell them to shut-up becuase voicing their concerns is tantamount to losing our president.

December 28, 2009 5:48 PM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

Read -- I'm here to say not everyone turns conservative with age and that we too have wisdom that comes with graying hair. And I'm not sure what opportunity has been lost in Iran as I watch its own people begin to rise up. Did Bush's threats make a difference? And just how many wars can we handle?

TomG -- let me repeat: I am not telling liberals to "shut up." I am saying we need a sense of perspective that includes not calling victories defeats, and a sense of patience that understands we can't change eight years of nightmares in 12 months.

December 29, 2009 4:58 AM  

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