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For Politically Disappointed Elders

category_bug_politics.gif President Barack Obama did not make news in his Monday night speech. The only thing that was slightly encouraging was that his debt ceiling/deficit reduction plan did not include cuts to Social Security Medicare and Medicaid.

But that doesn't mean the final bill – if there is one before the 2 August default date - won't include such cuts.

Many Democrats, independents, progressives, liberals and lefties are deeply disappointed with President Barack Obama. He's a crypto Republican, they say. Beholden to Wall Street and corporations. He caves to every Republican demand and is further to the political right than the Republicans on some issues.

It's hard for me to disagree and many of the political left have said they do not want to vote for Obama in the 2012 election. But the choice, whoever the Republicans select to oppose the president, will be between Obama and a non-entity like former Governor Mitt Romney or a blithering theocratic tea partier like Michele Bachmann.

It's hard not to despair when the choice again, as always, is between the lesser of two evils. When was the last presidential election in which you said to yourself, “ Geez, I don't know how to choose; they're both so good.”

When I was reading one of my favorite lefty political blogs, Hullabaloo, the other day, digby spoke to the issue of liberal disappointment and despair. It strikes me as the only way to go:

”I'm older now, so perhaps my newfound 'patience' can be seen as resignation rather than wisdom. But I have learned a couple of things over these years: don't panic, don't drop out and don't despair.

“The reactionaries and revanchists aren't all powerful and the will to progress is as fundamental to humanity as breathing. Bad things happen, to be sure. But liberal focus and persistence can be a powerful antidote. We need to hang in.”

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Ralph Lymburnber: The Wall People


I appreciate this blog so much, Ronni. You hit it square on. This feeling of disappointment and disbelief. Endless phone call requests to politicians and petitions to sign. Do they make any difference? Is this democracy? Let me just mention what is happening on Cape Cod. We have been trying for two years to stop the utility company from spraying herbicides under the powerlines to control vegetation. We had the legislators all on our side. Petitions were signed, signatures collected. Herbicides will contaminate our sole-source aquifer. On the EPA New England site it says we need to protect our aquifer. We are trying, but NStar plans to proceed as planned. What citizens want does not matter. This is not the way I envisaged democracy working. Corporations rule and they know it.

Whenever I might think it won't be so bad what a Republican can do (any of them), I look at the 8 years of Bush or the 2010 election of Republican governors. What damage can they do? Everything and especially where it comes to adding another Alito or Roberts to the Supreme Court. It will mean overturning any civil rights of Americans that are possible to overturn and whether they talk moderate or not, they all will appoint those kind of Justices.

Lawrence O'Donnell made a good point last night that has been the largest disappointment of Obama-- that we haven't really tried progressive political principles as Obama governed to the middle, not the left. Liberal philosophies will be blamed for all of this but they were never really attempted partly because of not enough solid liberals in House or Senate when many were Democrats but not liberal or progressive.

Partly however it was Obama letting the business community tell him what to do. This happens out of fear that if the government goes against what they want the money supply for their campaigns will dry up but also lack of real understanding of economics and what really built this country into what it is.

To say it's a frustrating time as a leftie is to put it mildly as every time I turn on the news I want to groan.

I am totally tired of all of it, and am instead focusing on my brand new grand-niece, born on July 14 and blissfully unaware of the problems in the world. She's in Arizona and I'm in Michigan, but thanks to the net, I can see almost-immediate photos of her. She's cuter than cute!

Only centrists say "...hard to choose.." when they are offered good candidates as true representatives of their respective parties. Unless the voters are offered two of the same persuasion and then we all have a problem.

I just wish we had legislators, regardless of their politics, who would act like grownups. I wish they would debate their actual positions, and come up with workable compromises. Instead, they posture, they lie, they take positions designed only to embarrass or hurt the opposition politically, they obstruct, they are rude and immature, they are ignorant, and pander to the worst in all of us rather than inspire us to be our best.

While I have been disappointed on occasion by Obama's weak pursuit of progressive ideals, I do admire his demeanor. He behaves with civility, maturity and dignity. He is intelligent. (And did you ever notice the loving way he holds babies and his own daughters?)

I too am disappointed in Obama. His efforts to create bipartisan cooperation were naive at best and squandered the moment when his party had the votes to create real reform.

The Republicans have admitted that their prime goal is not to address the issues we citizens are facing, but to be sure Obama doesn't get reelected. Their concern is not solving the problems of the country - most of which were created by their own policies in the Bush years - but making the problems bigger and blaming the President for them.

I am a registered Republican voter, but I am ashamed to admit it these days. And I voted for Obama.

Gratitude to Digby and Vicki.

It's really getting harder to maintain any semblance of hope for this country.

The populace put these posturing ignorant idiots in office. People complain that the legislators are not listening to the people, yet it was the people who made this debacle possible.

When our government was formed I am sure none of the wise men involved could envision a time when a handful of stupid dolts could destroy our democracy so effectively. They have already won everything they asked for and they are not satisfied yet. We do not have a strong president like Harry Truman to tell them to "go to hell."

Until we get back to the concept of our forefathers we are doomed. I fear it's already too late. This is one of the lowest times for our country that I can remember. I just can't bear to watch this charade we call 'government in action' much longer. It's beginning to feel like watching a dear friend die.

I am unhappy with the Pres. However, I'm not sure why people are so disappointed in Pres Obama. To me, he has done (nearly) exactly what he said he would do. I think that his rock star status clouded the minds of those who chose him as the Democratic candidate over Sen Clinton. Too late smart!

It is sad, but you made me laugh with your comment, "When is the last time you said, gee, I don't know how to choose, they are both so good. How about never.

As for Obama. I didn't vote for him, and don't like him. We worked in Hillary's campaign and then voted for McCain when the time came. McCain used to be a moderate, which I am, but lately he has been sounding as if he has heat stroke.

My Senator is Mark Warner (D-VA), a member of the Senate Gang of Six, and he is wonderful, I think. We will have to make changes to the way the US spends money, and it will require both cuts to entitlement programs and new revenue. The Gang of Six has the right answers. My 2 cents.

I agree. It seems we are always taking two steps forward and one step back; sometimes two steps back. But we do progress over time as we battle those forces that would drag us back to some fantasy past they imagine was always much better than today.

I'm not disappointed in Obama, just disgusted at the Republicans who have brought the workings of this government to a standstill. I can't ever remember a president being treated with such viciousness, by people who exhibit no regard for civility or the general good.

By the way, Mitt Romney is a smart, sane candidate but no political non-entity. On his last day in office as governor of Massachusetts, newspapers around the state ran good-riddance editorials. He slashed the state budget so deep, some small towns had to decide between police or snow plowing, then he wanted to cut taxes even more. He doesn't deserve credit for the health plan, which had been kicking around the legislature for 20 years before Mitt ever moved to Massachusetts. His contribution to what became law was to veto the universal health care plan passed by the legislature then resubmit with weaker penalties to non-compliant employers. As it turned out, all but a handful of employers went along with the program, even though it would have been cheaper for them to not do so, thanks to Mitt. Also, did I mention he was out of the state more than 1/2 of the time during his governorship, and frequently trashed the state and those who elected him at speaking engagements in other states? Believe me, Mitt's an entity.

I'm so fed up with politicians - all of them! - that it's hard to write a civil email to their offices. Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid don't need to be but. These programs need to be repaired and made healthy. Easy fix with Soc Sec: raise the ceiling on taxable wages. Medicare is more difficult, but the first place I would suggest making important change is using its clout to get better prices on drugs. Our legislators need to stop pandering to corporations. Reduce these programs, and things are going to get worse, not just for those who (used to) benefit from them, but worse for all of us. Problems aren't being solved in this debt ceiling/bgt reduction mess, they're being repackaged into different ones.

Fed up doesn't even begin to describe how I feel.

Thank you so much for the pep talk, Ronni! I'm going to breathe into this brown paper bag for a few minutes and write ONE MORE TIME to my senators and my representative and the White House.

I share your pain! I don't bother to write to my Congressman anymore except to tell him that he won't ever have my vote. He's on of the Tea Party freshmen so it's like talking to the wall. I am, however, going to campaign against him.

And yeah, I'm with Darlene -- as usual!

While I wish Obama had stayed with his progressive values including universal single payer health care, he has been stuck with a congress that votes no on everything he tries. Remember the filibusters in the Senate? Until we can elect a filibuster-proof senate, and take back a strong majority in the house again, he will not be able to do much for us. Let us pray that he is reelected with those strong supporting majorities. THEN, as a lame duck president, if he can't get things moving I will be extremely disappointed. For now, I give him the benefit of the doubt. He has tried too hard to appease the Republicans, for sure, but in dealing with their intransigence it's hard to see what more he could have accomplished.

I'm another disappointed elder (though I've never called myself "elder" before!) but I know the difference between the governance we'll have from an Obama presidency and that of any Republican. I really don't think most of the criticism of the president from the left is justified -- he can only do so much, particularly now with this Congress. My criticism of President Obama is that he has been unwilling to take the lead, to stake out a position and fight for it on every issue of importance. What is his deficit-cutting plan? Why is he letting Harry Reid carry the ball?

We have to acknowledge the depth of the hatred for this president, and how difficult this has made his job. And whatever he is or does, he's a million times better than GW Bush! And I sure don't want to return to that under a president named Rick Perry.

There have been advantages to having shared political power in Washington in past years. By and large our nation has moved forward though not always smoothly. Often extremists at either end of the political spectrum were prevented from irrational actions. Not so presently. Amazingly a small minority group within one major political party is dictating policy to the majority of their members. The way I've written about it is to say "in the Republican Party, the tail wags the dog."

I too am disappointed in Obama. I became disappointed in Clinton, too. But the Republican alternative has never proven to me to be better. And the toxic stew of Fox News, Karl Rovian machinations, and Shrub's eight years LOWERED THE BAR, in my humble (maybe not so humble) opinion; it paved the way for Sarah Palin,Michele Bachman, Rick Perry, and other no-nothings to become heroes and valid candidates.

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