Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Progressive Presidency? Not Yet

That President Obama would be facing opposition and anger from the conservative end of the political spectrum is unexpected. Differing political ideologies always lead to high emotions, and considering the large margin by which Obama won the 2008 election, it made sense that the resulting conservative backlash would be loud and angry.

Throw in the fact that Obama was a biracial man who became the country's first African-American president, and that adds another dimension to the fervor.

But a lot of criticism and anger toward the Obama administration has also surfaced from the left. Progressives represented a significant portion of Obama's electorate -- not as large a segment of the population as the independents who might've elected Obama simply because he wasn't George W. Bush or because they were turned off by Sarah Palin, but still. Given how compromised the health care reform and financial reform bills have been, as well as the grim outlook for immigration and energy reform, there's anger among progressives that President Obama hasn't lived up to his promises.

Progressives are not seeing change they can believe in.

But is it really all Obama's fault? There are things that can be laid at the president's feet, no doubt, but is he really the only one to blame? Is it President Obama's fault that his first term hasn't ticked as far to the left and people would've liked? The first year and a half of Obama's first term has seen him take a center-left approach, often seeming to take what he can get legislatively rather than fight for specific ideas.

That's led to legislative victories whose actual policy value is yet to be determined.

Eric Alterman of The Nation magazine examines the issue of the progressive presidency and why such a thing is impossible right now. It's a lengthy, far-reaching examination of today's political climate, and I think it's worth the time. It doesn't fit the media's narrative of win-lose politics and it doesn't pin the blame on any one person, but I think that's what makes the piece worthwhile.

Politics is not as simple as the 24-hour cable and internet news cycle would like you to believe.

Read Alterman's piece here.

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