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View Diary: GOP, Ryan and Medicare: Just what were they thinking? (106 comments)

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  •  Yeah, I can agree with a lot of what you say. (2+ / 0-)
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    belindapope, bryduck

    You're first paragraph especially.  It may have simply been better for Obama to have spent his political capital elsewhere... Get a lot of smaller issues out of the way.  But, the way I look at it, the 09-10 congress still shouldn't be considered a failure, the way many here believe it to be: It was probably a more progressive congress than any president has presided over in the last century, save FDR and LBJ (who also had significantly larger majorities than Obama).  I've made this point quite a few times on these boards, and some Obama detractors have made the point: That's not saying much... The direction are country has shifted to the right, we need an even stronger push to the left.  Perhaps... But I think that this misses the larger point: Since Democrats embraced progressivism, the only sessions of congress that we have had more progressive legislation than 09-10 was when we had more Democrats.  I think that this historical perspective is key: Many thought that FDR's policies didn't go far enough in his first few years, but those people missed the larger point: He got things started, then after more Democrats got elected, he strengthened what he started.  I am not saying Obama is better than FDR... Though I would say I think he has the potential to be a better president than any since.

    And that's why I don't share the pessimism of your second paragraph: I think that Dems will stand tall for the ACA, and I think it will slowly get more popular with time.  Some republicans and independents with preexisting conditions will begin looking at it in a new light.  Those on the left will begin to see the large amount of good it does as well, and they will begin to see why it is worth vigorously defending against Republicans: Single payer as policy in VT, and hopefully soon CA, would not become realities had the ACA not been passed and more importantly, would they cease to be realities were the ACA to be repealed.  That is how I look at the ACA: It would be a disaster if it were to be fully repealed, therefore it is at the very least a solid bill, if not a progressive's dream.

    I also truly don't believe that the New Deal is "this close" to being torn down... Because that is not what Republicans want: SS and Medicare are too popular even with Republicans.  Republicans, simply, want SS and Medicare to be weakened significantly enough to the point where public opinion, or at the very least Republican opinion, turns sour on it.  They think that by demanding a complete gutting, they will at least get significant enough cuts in to weaken it... And once it is weakened, it won't matter that it was a Republican idea to do so in the first place.  So far, you must admit, Obama has stood up to Republicans on this issue.  His proposed budget may not be a progressive's dream, but it shows that he strongly believes in the strength of our basic safety nets, at his rhetoric to that point so far has been excellent.

    That is why I believe this presidential election will be key, more so than '08.  That election was about general change; specific issues were never really at the forefront.  Change was a winning issue for Dems: They were going against an unpopular incumbent party.  If Democrats, and progressive activists like us on this site, can keep the focus on those issues, the issues of preserving the pillars of our society, Republicans will lose big.  Obama will have a mandate that hopefully ensures greater success than in 09-10.  So far, Democrats have been on the attack, and with election season only just starting up, that is a very good sign.

    People are quick to dismiss any discussion of Obama's strategy as "11th Dimensional Chess" or whatever, but consider this: Obama campaigned on being a reasonable politician that would try to restore a sense of honor to the White House, a sense of honor that had all but vanished during the Bush administration.  He campaigned on bipartisanship... "Reaching across the aisle."  "We are more similar than we are different."  This sounds great in a speech, but as we've seen, with the modern day Republican party, it doesn't really work.  To put it another way, Obama campaigned on ending political bullshit, and Republicans responded by throwing as much bullshit on him as they could.  You could say that he should have abandoned that strategy immediately, that he should have fought Republicans with a little shit of his own, but we will see how it plays out.  I think that his persistance will win out in the long run.

    Because here's where we get back to the Overton Window.  The way I see it, these two things are true: The Ryan plan getting the coverage that it is is a result of Republicans trying to use the Overton Window to their advantage.  The Ryan plan also, if used correctly by Obama and Democrats, can bring about a massive defeat of the Republican agenda.  It is being reported more and more: The privitization of Medicare has become a huge issue: Most Republicans just don't know what to say about it.  It is a hugely unpopular issue, and it is a direct result of Republicans trying to push the Overton Window (like I said, a conservative concept to begin with) too far to the right.

    And that's why I don't have too much doubt that you, and most progressives, will come around for Obama... Hell, he's too good a campaigner for us not to.  He'll remind us of the good he's done, the defeats we've had, and his vision for the future.  Who the hell knows what the Republican vision for the future is going to be?  Romney or Pawlenty probably won't get too extreme during the general (though they'll have to be in the primary), but if a Santorum or a Bachmann gets nominated?  No way a progressive's telling me they miss the chance to vote against one of them.

    And that's where I'll make my final point: You say "We will never know what could have happened if Obama worked harder, smarter, or whatever for a more liberal agenda; what seems obvious to me, though, is that he isn't the Democratic President I want right now--he doesn't show me that he wants the same things I want."  You are focusing, I think, too much on optics... Basically, the reason Obama doesn't usually come off as being a progressive hero is simple: To get things started, he doesn't need to be... In fact, I would argue that it would be a poor strategy to do so.  That's the unfortunate fact of American politics today.  Progressives like to complain that Obama doesn't fear losing their votes, but they miss the fact that that is because, in this country, for this point in time, he is more than progressive enough.  All my favorite politicians are Democrats (save Bernie Sanders), our great progressive minds favor Democrats... Krugman, though certainly critical of Obama, also admits that Obama's stated positions are generally good ones... He just buys into the OW argument a little too much as well: Brilliant economic mind, good-not-great political mind, in my opinion.  Richard Trumka is, by all accounts, good friends with Obama, and they've been meeting regularly since the Wisconsin debacle started.  When these people, when Anthony Weiner or Keith Ellison or my current favorite politician, Minneapolis mayor RT Rybak, if they start souring in a significant way on Obama, I will probably have started losing my faith as well.  But for now, I am not so pessimistic.  I am going to fight hard to get Obama get elected, and I hope that, in doing so, I can highlight the truly good things that he has done and the good that he is planning on doing.  It's a simple fact: The larger his victory, the more he can get done.

    And thanks right back... Conversations like these are why I started commenting here.

    •  I hope so. I really do. (Obviously, I think.) (0+ / 0-)

      My fear is that the Rs will Rickroll us again. They threaten something massive and then "compromise" for something less. Something like, "Ok, Ok, we hear you! We won't try to kill off SS. But you have to admit there is fat to be trimmed elsewhere, so let's gut those things."
      When, of course, there hasn't been any fat in any social service programs for decades. And Obama will swallow it in his haste to be above partisanship and then pressure Reid to go along.
      Has a familiar ring to it, doesn't it?
      For me, optics is all I get from Obama, so naturally I've focused on them. My health care costs have gone up every year he's been in office (I know, I know, they have for many years before that as well!), and there is no real end in sight for that. And I have insurance. And that's regarding the policy item we passed!
      You see things turning around, I don't. I simply don't see how having a visionary in the Oval Office helps us at this point in time, and I've been given no reason to think otherwise. I've been disappointed ever since I heard his acceptance speech in 8/08; not enough urgency, not enough bite. Losing in 2010 was a final straw for my faith that things will work out before I'm dead (and I'm only 48.) After that, why should I care, pragmatically? I'm not that altruistic!
      As I said above, I hope you're right and I'm wrong, though.

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