I admit - I am really angry. I thought by venting on this site, I'd get over it. I thought by venting to my political friends, I'd get over it. But that didn't work either - I think most of them are really irritated with me and have difficulty coming to grips as to why I am so angry. I tried to explain it, but I think it is so complicated and I don't really think I totally understood it myself.
But after really digging deep inside, and letting a ton of bottled up feelings bubble up to the surface after the cork was popped, I think I have finally figured out why I am SO ANGRY at Obama and the Dems in Congress.
First a little background. I am not nor have I ever been one of those progressives who sits on the sidelines and takes pot shots at the party and not do any work on behalf of candidates or contribute. I have spent tens of thousands of hours knocking on doors, running voter registration projects, making phone calls and raising money. And I have contributed tens of thousands of dollars over the years to candidates and campaign committees. So as I see it, I have standing to speak my mind.
Secondly, I was on the Obama train from the get go. I was on a business trip, as luck had it, and was in suburban Chicago the week then candidate was to announce his candidacy in Springfield, IL. I had stayed the weekend to drive to Springfield but the weather was so cold there was no way I could do it. So I stayed in my hotel room and watched the whole thing on television. I attended the convention in Boston in 2004 when Obama gave his infamous speech and knew he would be president - and I was so excited that cold Sunday morning listening to him announce his candidacy.
I made my First political contribution to his campaign on February 18, 2007 and ended up maxing out during the primary season. And in 2007, I spent countless hours on the phone calling people to attend rallies during that year. Remember those huge rallies Obama had at the park in New York City in 2007, or the one in Portland Maine the same year? Well, I was part of all of them calling volunteers to get them to show up. It was quite an exciting time - on 6 or 7 different occasions, I called volunteers to attend a particular rally and the very people I called were out door knocking, passing out fliers for folks to attend the same rally!
In late 2007. I traveled to Iowa and volunteered for the campaign during the caucuses, then went to New Hampshire for the primary, and then drove back home to Cali, stopping in Nevada for five days to help out with the caucuses before coming home to vote in the CA primary. I spent the entire day on Super Tuesday calling Obama voters in CT, GA, AL etc., for GOTV. I Spent six weeks in VA, from early June to Mid-July f 2008 running voter registration projects in my home county where I grew up. I left for Denver in August to drive to the convention, which I attended, and then drove back to Virginia and spent the last six weeks running voter registration projects until the registration deadline on October 5, 2008. Then I hung out to assist with GOTV until election day.
I was very proud of what I did in Virginia but the one thing I did, along with a host of other volunteers across the country that I was most proud of, was the work I did in Indiana. I really didn't understand the impact of what we did their until around 1:30 am EST on election night when NBC News called Indiana for Obama.
You might recall that Indiana was considered to me a cake walk for Hillary Clinton during the primary - the primary was being held there on he same day that the North Carolina primary was being held. Six weeks prior to the voter registration dealine for the primary in Indiana, I received an email from the Obama campaign asking me to call folks in Indiana who were not registered to vote and get them registered. When I contacted individuals and sked them to register, if they agreed, I could actually email them a registration form through the tool on the Obama website. It was so cool and I registered a ton of people during that time frame, as did many of my counterparts across the country. You might recall that on primary night, Clinton barely won Indiana and I am convinced all those additional registered voters added to the books made a huge impact on primary day. And needless to say, we were part of Indiana voting Democratic on election night for the first time since 1964 as well.
So, how could I go from someone who was such a fan of Obama, who gave his heart and soul to this guys campaign, to being so disapointed, upset and angry based on his overall performance? It's fairly simple, the bottom dropped out of my life in 2009 and for the first time in my life, I was living on the edge. I didn't get a job I was pretty much assured of at the last moment that paid really well and had great benefits. In February, 2009, I couldn't afford my COBRA payment of almost $700.00 a month, so I had to drop it - a month before the federal government started subsidizing COBRA payments. I couldn't find a job to save my life -then I got sick in May of 2009 and ended up in the hospital for a week. The same thing happened in June of 2009, and I was in the hospital for two weeks. I then flew home for two months to recover with my family and got home in August of 2009. All my hospital bills, doctor bills, ambulance bills, came to jut under $25,000.00, and that was after the discounts I was given for not having insurance. And I almost lost my house.
For the first time, I finally understood what it meant to be living on the edge. I had never really had a good understanding of what people who were living on the edge had to go through. The reality of my experience really shook me, and I finally realized what I had heard people say but really didn't understand. And that is, for many in society, they don't have time to wait. They don't have time to wait for the next election cycle to come and wait for good legislation passed - they need help now.
Gay couples can't wait to get married - they are at legal risk everyday they have to wait to get the same 1100 rights that straight couples receive when they get married. The unemployed don't have time to wait to have their benefits extended - they have to pay their mortgage, feed their kids NOW, not after Congress reconvenes in January of 2011. Those without health insurance cannot wait until 2014 for the health insurance bill to kick in. For a party that vows to fight for those in need, we continually put off passing good legislation to help people until the NEXT election cycle.
That is why I find it so upsetting - with a sitting president, and huge majorities in both houses of Congress, that we couldn't get good progressive legislation passed. Now, I know some of you will point to things that Obama has done that you consider to be good legislation. But I think that is where the argument starts between those on this site who think he is doing a great job and those of us who see him performance as sub-par. We just see things differently - you all see the glass as half full, we see it as half empty. We see a trail of missed opportunities - you see a trail of triumphs, though not perfect, with the option to tweak it to be better in the future. We see no opportunity to make it better, with a base that is demoralized and the party's prospects looking dim in the fall.
And I think for people who see the world the way I do, what is so frustrating is that the President never really took up the fight and fought hard for what he believes in - I am not really sure what type of convictions he has anymore. His actions during health care were so demoralizing - he spent so much time placating the other side and all he got out of it was Scott Brown and 41 Republican votes in the Senate. He never took the Republicans head on, and frankly, he never took on some Dems as well. And this is where Obama's main flaw, his inability to lead, causes the most problems.
The greatest progressive legislation has been passed over the last 5 decades by the most unlikely characters like LBJ. But LBJ's leadership skills were impressive - he wouldn't take no for an answer. He threw the politics of the issue right out the window and made things like civil rights legislation a reality, knowing that he would destroy the Democratic Party in the south as he knew it. But he knew it was the right thing to do and he jumped it and exercised the leadership skills he needed in order to pass it. Can you imagine if LBJ said we had to wait until the next election cycle to pass good civil rights legislation? Does anyone really think Nixon would have passed the Voting Ricghts Act, based on the despicable campaign he ran in 1968, using blacks and the crime rate to lure southern whites to his side? Can you imagine what kind of world we would live in today if LBJ didn't lead?
Now, having said all of that, I feel so much better. And for those of you who still cannot understand where I and many on this site feel on Obama's leadership and record to date, we will just have to agree to disagree. But I for one am finally crying uncle - I think my frustration and anger is taking its toll on me and I do not like how I am coming across anymore. So, no more diaries or comments ranting about the likes of Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson or the sorry state of Obama's leadership skills. I still won't contribute to them or to campaign committees that contribute to them, like the DSCC or the DCCC. From here on out, my focus will be positive and I will spend my time and resources on Progressive candiates.
So, it the spirit of my new attitude toward politics and life, I want to do something on behalf of three Democratic Senators who, I think we can all agree, we all know and love, and who we need to get re-elected this fall:
Senator Barbara Boxer of California
Senator Patty Murray of Washington
Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin
All three Senators are champions of progressive causes and who appear to be potentially vulnerable this fall.
So, if you choose to, open you check book ann cut each a check to ensure their re-elections this fall. All three are running against opponents who are going to be well funded this fall.
Here are links to the their websites.
So, that's it - a complete and total purge of my jaded soul. Sometimes the only way to come out on the other side is to purge. I still feel strongly about many things, but part of letting go is just about letting go of the anger. Anyway, thanks for listening.