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I responded to a comment in another diary that suggested that President Obama would be "great" if a bill passes with a public option and would be a "corporatist sellout" if the final bill has no public option and mandates.  This diary expands on my comment that we need to get beyond Barack Obama.  Over and over we go round and round with claims of "bot" or "hater".  One side says Obama is great; the other that Obama is a sell out corporatist.  The battles seem to accomplish little except to make people angry and create divisions among people who share much in common and who seek progressive change.

I think both "sides" need to get beyond Barack Obama.  

More of what I mean, after the fold.  
   

Here's a link to the original comment that holds the core of my thoughts.  Comment

The following builds on my comment and goes a bit beyond it.

I have a history here.  I supported John Edwards because of his issue positions as the furthest left electable candidate.  In April 2008, a few weeks before Edwards supported Obama, I wrote a diary here supporting Obama.

I identify more with the left here than with moderates.  So in these "wars" there have been times in which I was alligned more with critics of Obama policies (not of Barack Obama the person) than with supporters of those particular policies.

If you have been reading my diaries lately, you might see that I am slowly coming to a belief that President Obama's greatest legacy may be symbolic (the first African American President changing race relations forever in this nation, although I understand some racism will continue) and rhetorical (changing the consciousness of many Americans from "greed is good" to "we're all in it together").  

I touched upon these points in these diaries:

President Obama: "It does offend our values"; Building A New Narrative of America, 10/22/09

The Counter Narrative of Barack Obama: "The Promise of America" (8/29/08)

White Racists Want Their America Back. (8/06/09)

To explain the symbolism point, I'll cite my language from August:

Electing an African-American was the most progressive thing we could do.  Until we deal with race in this nation, until the racism of white privilege is extinguished, progressive outcomes will always be difficult to obtain.  And electing Obama is beginning of the end of white racism as way of life in this nation.

White Racists Want Their America Back. (8/06/09)

It matters for two reasons: (1) racism is immoral and we cannot let it continue and (2) so long as racism exists, it will be used to prevent coalitions among working people that could build progressive change.  Morally and pragmatically, the symbolism of the election matters and the symbolism of a black president continues to matter.

Both the symbolic and rhetorical points are important.  In fact, I believe the rhetorical impact of President Obama in changing people's world views over time is possibly the most important thing he will do.  Ideas matter.  To overturn Reagan, we must overturn the ideas in people's minds.  Policies alone will not do that.

But policies do matter.  For the symblic point, we lose some of the value if his presidency is a "failed presidency."  The more successful, or at least the more he is viewed as successful, the more certain stereotypes in the minds of a few are broken and destroyed.  So policies matter there.  And policies matter with respect to what I call the rhetorical impact, because they need to be generally consistent with that new world view. So they certainly matter, but, in my view, no particular policy choice should be a deal breaker between Obama and the left.  We should criticize choices and always agitate for more, but I also think we need to avoid demonization of our allies, even where we disagree on a particular issue. Demonization is a poison, a poison used here by both moderates and leftists, often with respect to each other.

I think President Obama's policies will be good overall, but they will be like changing the direction of an ocean liner.  He will not be able to do a 180 degree turn, even if he wanted to, which is open to debate.  I think we will see a slow curve that may not look all that great now, but will set the stage for massive changes in the future.

There are many issues, and as important as the Public Option and health care reform is, it will neither destory nor create the change we need.  It is one of many.

Taking a long view, the outcome of this particular issue (PO and mandates) is less important overall than symbolism, rhetoric, and all other policy changes.  It is one of many.  That said, I really, really want a real PO, because it will help validate government as useful, which in turn works especially with the rhetoric about "we're all in it together".

But President Obama is not a corporatist sell out if he does not work as hard as many of us wish or promise to veto a bad bill, or many other things.  

We have to get beyond the cartoon character view of this President with a few as Super-Barack or Bad-Barack.  He's neither.

Overall, progressives and Obama share much in common.  I think we should push hard from the left, but also remember our commonality.  Even when we vigorously disagree with the President, we should not demonize him or his strongest adherents.  Similarly, strong supporters should not demonize critics. We need each other.

In trying to remake America, in trying to overcome all the damage, in trying to create an America where "we're all in it together", we should also remember that progressives, the netroots, and President Obama are "all in it together".    

If we are very lucky, Barack Obama will be President until 2016.  Progressives are still working out our place in the Obama coalition.  I hope this diary creates discussion in good faith between many who fall into both "sides" about how we can work together for our shared goals and move past the extreme views, laudatory and critical, about Barack Obama.

Originally posted to TomP on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 02:00 PM PDT.

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