I feel I've always been a somewhat erudite observer of political currents, though my personal political compass has turned at least 135 degrees over the last decade, but I have to admit that the first months of Obama's presidency have been trying. My Anne Frank-ish view that people are basically good has been overshadowed by the growing knowledge that goodness (however defined) is an essentially useless concept if buttressed only by ignorance. The worst aspect of this ignorance is the fact that huge swaths of people (primarily on the right, but not entirely) uncritically accept any and every piece of misinformation that conforms to their existing worldview. Sure, that's not an amazing new phenomenon, but its ferocity seems to have shifted "Don't let the perfect stand in the way of the good" into "Don't let the better stand in the way of what now exists."
At the time of the last election, I was a rare commodity - an outspoken Obama supporter living in Northern North Dakota. Even though my Obama lawn signs were stolen daily, I kept replacing them until the thief must have become convinced that I had an endless supply....or that they self-regenerated! I never wore a button nor shouted slogans, but I felt certain that Obama's presidency would signal a sea-change after 28 years of Conservative domination (and I consider Bill Clinton an unwilling Conservative).
Obviously, I was pleased at the results of the election.
However, I was instantly alarmed when Geithner was appointed Secretary of the Treasury, and became even more alarmed when Centrist Clinton-era appointees began appearing left and right, making me wonder if I had accidentally swept in Neo-liberalism instead of genuine Progressive ideals.
The bank bailouts were tough to swallow, though I understood the damned-if-you-do/don't nature of the situation. The stimulus directed at the economy was not as corporate as it could have been.
Yet, I felt an apprehension growing. Surely the sparks of the tempest would not bring only pain!?
I reassured myself that the keys to Obama's presidency would be:* Universal Health Care. Aside: I am an unreconstructed single-payer advocate who will not tolerate the continuance of one dime of Health Ins. Profit. I would have been open to a German/Swiss system of heavily regulated non-profits with set price standards. * Appointment of Reliably Humanist Supreme Court Justices (my term :)) * Winding down both Wars to (hopefully) nothing during this term.
My further hopes were: * Establish a new tax bracket for those at 1 or 2 million and above- 50 percent.* Establish minimum vacation weeks for workers at 2 or 3, along with a host of other worker rights. There's a reason why France is less unionized than we are - they are guaranteed more than what Unions fight for here. * Maybe some Gay and Lesbian rights; not indicated by Obama's campaign, but why not HOPE? * Massive Corporate Restriction. Aside: The new case before the Supreme Court relating to Corporate Free Speech is huge.
Finally: * DON'T KOWTOW TO THE RIGHT and CORPORATE INTERESTS.
The game is yet afoot I realize, but even in the short months since Obama and his new Congress were sworn in, I have found my hope on all but one issue (Supreme Court) dwindling to a mere ember.
I realize this diary will be monstrously overlong if I continue all the way to it's end, so I just thought I'd throw this intro out as that: an intro, with parts yet to come over the next few days/weeks. It's a real "diary" - just a venting of frustration and a latent sadness at the seemingly bottomless depth of realpolitik and Corporatism.