Barack Obama’s base of support is being betrayed by the administration—and they only have themselves to blame.
With the election of Barack Obama in November of 2008, with the Hope campaign slogan and the possibility of the first black president of the United States becoming a reality, hope really did seem like a possibility for the millions of Americans who had felt marginalized and disenfranchised for decades, and most notably during the Bush presidency. Even before that, when the Democratic ticket was split between two minority groups, that up to that point had seemed impossible to appear on a ballot, a woman or a black man had the real possibility of becoming president. Hope was in the air in 2008, and despite the negative attacks from the right it was a near unilateral support from the left—something not seen in recent history. However, with this enchantment with our new president, whose story is both heartwarming and truly American, we somehow forgot our principles.
Unlike in previous presidencies, where protests over policy were a mainstay, the Obama administration has been fraught with protests from their opposition on issues that seem only to matter to them. While they may rightly be called conspiracy theories, and have largely been debunked as such, it has caused democrats to build up a wall in which they cannot traverse. Due to their continual defense of the president over baseless claims of ineligibility and fiscal irresponsibility that are just untrue, democrats have lost their ability to question the president at all on matters of substance for fear of being called the worst thing a progressive may be determined—a republican.
With republicans continually pushing farther and farther to the right, progressives and democrats are scrambling to keep the little ground achieved, or hoped for, when the president took office three years ago. Through subsequent concessions in the name of efficiency, the president has quietly moved his administration farther and farther to the right. This is only possible because the alternative is the republicans, who want to strip union rights, want to deport as many immigrants (illegal or legal) as possible, disenfranchise the poor and elderly, dismantle the educational system and fundamentally damage the environment all in favor of big business. However, under the Obama administration, we still do not have a single-payer health care system; deportations have only escalated; whistleblowers are being prosecuted at an alarming rate despite calls for transparency; Guantanamo has come no closer to shutting down; and while he has ended the conflict in Iraq he has created a new war with drones rather than soldiers that have killed thousands unnecessarily. These are not only things that he campaigned on, but has promised throughout his time as president. Why is he not being held accountable?
This is likely the only time we will ever be able to have a conversation about progressive values—issues that the right cannot attack him on without betraying their base—and we are giving it up in favor of electability and allegiance. Questioning our president isn’t about defaulting to the opposition; it’s keeping him or her on track with what he has promised us as a constituency.