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Support for Obama: What if the Shoe Were on the Other Foot?

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.


4 Responses

  1. You said, “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…”


    I think you should look at it this way, and finish that sentence with “….McCain…”

    And follow through with what a McCain presidency would have been like. He’s far more hawkish in foreign diplomatic policy, and is a self-admitted ignoramus regarding either domestic or foreign economic policy.

    For just about everything else you disagree with President Obama, John McCain as president is even more disagreeable.

    You should be trying to encourage your fellow Alaskans to elect a progressive to the US House (i.e., retire that embarrassing moron Don Young) and to convince Begich and Murkowski to represent ALL of Alaska citizens and not just the oil-obsessed ones.

  2. Hi Karen, Almost every post I’ve made criticizing the President has included a line to the effect of “I’m still not regretful of my vote for Obama in 2008.”

    If you can’t distinguish between “Obama has significant flaws but we need to vote for him anyway” and “I support Mitt Romney (or McCain or whoever)” you are doing a big disservice to the President. You WILL NOT win hearts on minds with this line of attack and you might drive some voters away.

  3. Karen, I agree with you that President Obama has not done everything he campaigned on in 2008, BUT…you would have him veto the extension of the Bush tax cuts when the Republicans held hostage extended payments for the unemployed. You also are blaming him for not closing Gitmo when Republicans filibustered paying to move the prisoners to high-securty mainland prisons, just to name a few.

    The President can actually do very little unilaterally; that is why we have a Senate, House of Representatives and a Supreme Court. It’s called a system of checks and balances in a democratic republic. The President does have to work with Congress, but when individual representatives and senators decide before the President is even sworn in that they are going to do everything they can to make him a one-term president, it’s kind of hard for a president to do all he wants immediately. That really seems to be the problem of the progressives and liberals that are disappointed in President Obama – that he didn’t do everything immediately.

    Personally, I am doing everything I can to have Democrats replace Republicans everywhere possible. I have made phone calls, driven people to vote early, made monetary donations, and whatever else I can. I’m trying my best to get our President re-elected and get him a majority House and super-majority Senate so that maybe he can get the rest of his promises enacted into law. He told us it wasn’t going to be easy, and he was right. We have to do all we can to make it a little easier to for him to accomplish everything on our wish lists.

  4. Theresa,

    Karen is fine with how President Obama is doing. She basically has your position. Please read her comment again. My blog entry again, for that matter.

    I am holding President Obama accountable only for those things empowered to him under the Constitution. Notice how I didn’t complain about health care or the size of the stimulus package. Those things really were outside of his control.

    If you lecture all less than enthusiastic Obama voters the way you’re lecturing me, you WILL hurt the President’s poll numbers. I was lectured to for the entire Bush adminstration by the Presidents supporters and they never brought me around to their way of thinking.

    Take our pain seriously and thank us for the level of support we are willing to give. Maybe we’ll give more.

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