It’s very clear that the Republicans and Tea Party folks criticize Obama for ridiculous reasons that have very little substance, but we on the left, particularly those of us who describe ourselves as “progressive,” criticize him too, but for entirely different reasons. There are a number of strong supporters of the President who believe that if we don’t continue to support Obama, we are simply handing the reins over to the right. But this is not necessarily so. The left needs representation in office, and we simply aren’t getting it. Obama can be beat in the primaries, and he rightfully should be.
Obama promised a lot when he went into office. He said that he would close Guantanamo and he hasn’t. While he uses the power of the presidency to go to war against Libya, prostituting the powers of the UN at the expense of its noble cause, which he promised he would not, and said that the president does not have such powers, he is unwilling to use the power of the presidency to close that terrible prison. He has sustained a policy of torture. He said that he would end the war in Iraq and has not. He has taken the war in Afghanistan illegally into Pakistan, violating their sovereignty, severely destabilizing that country by dividing its people between corrupt politicians who take money from us and deposit it in Swiss bank accounts and those whose families suffer the consequences of drone attacks upon schools, homes, wives and children. He does nothing to stop the illegal sale of arms to Israel, which uses them to assault Gaza. He advocated single payer when he was a candidate, but then instructed his commission to keep it off the table when it came time for legislation. He opposed the Patriot Act, but has pushed for further extension of it. He said that the U.S. needed to mediate in, and bring some change to, the status of the Kashmiri people, and that the will of the people of Kashmir, not the will of India or Pakistan, was most important. Now he refuses to support the Kashmiri and says it’s a problem strictly between India and Pakistan. It’s my opinion, and the opinion of many others on the left that he is just a shill for corporate interests.
I have spoken before about our interest in participating in a steering committee seeking a candidate who would oppose Obama in the coming election of 2012, and did so yesterday for the first time. More about that later. The effort at this stage of the game is certainly much too preliminary to gauge the strength of this effort, but we certainly encourage open debate on the merits of what an alternative candidate might have to offer. Obama has stood by silently while the labor movement across the country has screamed bloody murder in the face of an all-out effort by Republicans and their ilk to undermine the strength of unions to bargain collectively, and this is an outrage. Where is there any sign of leadership, given the mandate Obama shouldered? Where is a commander in chief leading a defense of the people’s voice? Obama needs to know as never before that he is doing a damn lousy job, and he needs to know that we can do something about that. We can alter his chances of re-election, if he has not already closed the coffin door on himself and pulled the dirt in on top along with it. And I certainly hope that we do. I’ve had enough.
Paul Barrow is Director of Policy and Communications for United Progressives.