I was saddened to hear Obama say that one of his challenges is convincing progressives that they need to be concerned about debts and deficits. I am frustrated that the president would embrace the conservative/republican narrative about democrats and progressives, rather than listening to what we progressives have to say for ourselves. He is essentially accusing progressives of not caring about the nation's future, or at the very least, caring about it less than republicans.
It is not true that progressives are not concerned with debts and deficits. Debts and deficits are the consequences of yesterday's poor decisions, kind of like type 2 diabetes in many cases. Using a bandaid to treat a diabetes has never produced positive results and insulin is only a temporary fix. The superior approach--the one that saves lives, leads to improved well-being, and saves money is to prevent diabetes.
Many of progressives' main positions are steeped in a sense of financial and personal responsibility. Unlike our conservative opponents, we recognize that Americans have a responsibility to protect our nation and our earth for future generations. We demonstrate this in many ways, such as our approaches to social security, health care, the environment, education, and the judicial system.
Conversely, republicans/conservatives obsess over the "here" and "now" of high debt and deficits under the pretense of concerns over their long-term impact. If that were the case, they would not have worked so hard to squander Clinton's surplus in tax cuts for the wealthy.
Tax cuts for the wealthiest have never stimulated the economy and will never do so. Republicans make them to encourage wealthy people to commit more money to republicans right now and to satisfy the antigovernment extremists that they help to create.
If republicans cared about the solvency of Medicare and Social Security, they would work with us on a plan to reduce medical costs in the long-term and keep people people healthier and more productive.
Progressives largely support a single-payer healthcare system as the most effective way to rein in medical costs and reduce the burden on businesses and individuals.
We support treatment for addicts rather than imprisonment, which destroys families, encourages more crime, does nothing to break addiction, and costs society far more than rehabilitation.
Progressives support safe sex education and availability of birth control for the sexually active as a way to reduce unwanted pregnancy and STDs and to keep young women in school. We also support organizations that provide cancer screening for women and abortion rights, with the recognition that unwanted children come with financial consequences for individuals and, in some cases, for society.
Progressives support increased educational opportunities as a way to improve earning potential, reduce crime and poverty rates, and generate more tax revenue and innovation.
Many oppose the death penalty, which imposes a greater burden on the legal system than lifetime imprisonment.
Progressives support renewable energy and energy-saving appliances and light bulbs, which save money in the long-term and could reduce school budgets, for example, "trickling down" to lower property taxes.
We support environmental measures associated with long-term and immediate improvements in health, and ultimately, cost savings. Some measures also protect Americans' livelihood, like laws against pollution that help protect fisheries.
Progressives support exhausting diplomatic approaches to international conflict before considering costly warfare. We support helping those in the world who are less fortunate through education and better health as a way to improve their economic situation and decrease conflict.
We support an avenue to legalization for undocumented workers and ensuring they have proper working conditions and pay and access to services associated with better well being for themselves and those with whom they interact, like driver's licenses, education, and healthcare.
We support smaller efforts, like needle exchange programs, to help prevent the disease transmission.
We support tax penalties that would discourage business from taking jobs overseas; more jobs at home would definitely improve our economy.
We oppose agricultural practices, oil drilling practices, and mining practices that destroy the land/sea, with high risks of pollution or land erosion, for example, and their associated job losses and health risks.
Progressives embrace the reality of climate change and want long-term measures to reduce its observable impact, whose consequences are already costing our government and individuals money.
We support campaign finance reforms and restrictions on lobbying; if companies spent less on these attempts to influence, perhaps they'd have more to pay a living wage or create new jobs.
We support increased funding for science to cure diseases and laws that make people healthier, rather than screw them up, like "curing gayness" or getting rid of seatbelt and helmet laws.
We support higher taxes on people who hoard wealth and companies that pay almost none as a means to increase revenue to improve the lot of all Americans. If republicans oppose this type of "wealth redistribution," then they should put their weight behind higher wages for workers, which would obviate some of the need for it.
This is but a small sampling of the kinds of policies and approaches progressives tend to support, all of which offer financial savings and higher revenues that would lead to less debt and decreased deficits.
Conversely, most of what republicans/conservatives propose constitute a direct road to poverty for many Americans. Their healthcare proposals and Medicare "reforms" promise to snatch healthcare away from many and add to the drain on our health system. Their refusal to support education, a living wage and decent working conditions keeps many below the level of having to pay income taxes, contributes to increased crime and illness and less education and productivity.
It truly pains me to hear Obama essentially accuse progressives of not caring about our nation's future or of caring about it less than republicans do. I'm not sure if this is about political posturing, if it was speaking without thinking, or if he truly believes what he said. I think he needs an education on what progressive means.
NOTE: Despite my disappointment and frustration, I want to be clear that there is no acceptable alternative to voting for President Obama in 2012. I believe he is a good, if misguided man. I believe he has been dealt a very difficult hand, and is struggling to figure out to accomplish anything when forced to deal with such irrational people as the conservatives in congress. In addition, any gains republicans make in political power will only verify in their minds their absurd approach and push the entire political system to the right.