I have recently taken some heat here and on Facebook by stating that I’m at best a reluctant supporter of the President. Given that the next President will either be President Obama or Governor Romney, I feel confident that President Obama is the lesser of two evils. The short version of why I feel this way is that I feel seriously betrayed by the President on my core issues – civil liberties, prosecution of torture* and responsible taxation**. But I’m voting for him anyway because Romney will do all of the bad things that Obama has done and would likely bring back torture and so-called “preventive warfare” if elected. Also, I don’t believe anyone else has a realistic chance of defeating Romney.
But this support isn’t enough for some Obama partisans. They tell me that I and others like me are being childish or upset because the President didn’t live up to our unrealistic expectations and we should be on our knees in gratitude for the President’s amazing performance. But how would these people feel if the shoe were on the other foot? Let’s take a walk into an alternate reality where the President:
- Has all of the Gitmo prisoners transferred to high security Federal prisons on US soil in March 2009 before Congress can react.
- Set up a special prosecutor in June 2009 to prosecute torturers and the people who conspired to make waterboarding the norm in the Bush Administration.
- Vetoed the Patriot Act extensions, which died of a failure to get 2/3 in both houses.
- Vetoed immunity for the telephone companies that spied on us. Although this veto was overridden it was seen as an act of political courage.
So far so good, at least for me and the civil liberties wing of the party. But what if you’re a traditional Democrat and the President also:
- Went from being pro-choice on the campaign trail to supporting the Republican Right-to-Life amendment banning abortion nationally. What if he armtwisted the Democrats in Congress into supporting the amendment?
- Supported and campaigned for a “one-Man/one-Woman” marriage amendment to sweep away marriage equality in the states that had passed it?
- Replaced Don’t Ask Don’t Tell with an all-out witch hunt on homosexuals in the military.
- Worked with Republicans and Conserva-Dems to open the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve to oil drilling?
For people who say, the President was against all these things on the campaign trail, he also campaigned against Gitmo, protecting torturers, immunity for the spying telecoms and extending the Bush Tax Cuts.
From my experience with liberal and progressive bloggers, I think there would be a sense of deep betrayal among all Democratic women and gays if the President had carried out the measures in my second list. I think they and many progressive straight males would be screaming betrayal and wondering how they could organize a primary challenge. And I would understand this. I wouldn’t whine about how they were weakening the party.
And when this group failed to deny Obama the nomination, I could see them flirting with 3rd party candidates but then taking a good look at Romney and thinking “If we think we have it bad now, wait until Romney takes over.” I can see them deciding to vote for the President and maybe making a few contributions here and there. I can also see them opting out of the volunteering they did in 2008 because they just can’t sound enthusiastic on the phone bank. Despite my joy at the accountability for torture and the end of mass surveilance and warrantless searches, I’d understand their reaction and be grateful for their votes. I certainly wouldn’t scold them for not being on their knees in gratitude.
If this “What if the shoe were on the other foot and YOUR core issues were being attacked” touched you, I ask that you show some kindness to reluctant Obama supporters and stop kicking them lest you push them into the arms of the Greens or Libertarians. Not every progressive who been hurt by the President has my level of tolerance for accusations of insufficient loyalty.
* – Prosecution of torture would be handled by the Justice Department, which is an executive branch agency. If Sam is reading this, check out the comments to the last post, which show that the Judicial Branch is our court system.
** – While the President needs the consent of Congress to change tax policy, my expectation in voting for him in 2008 was for him to veto any and all extensions of the Bush Tax Cuts, even if it meant let letting the middle class tax cuts die along for the ones for the wealthy.