Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Response to "Where Does A Democrat Go From Here?"

In an article for The Huffington Post author Marianne Williamson asks the question: "Where Does A Democrat Go From Here?

In her article Ms. Williamson expresses the growing disenchantment that many progressives are feeling with the policy decisions of the Obama administration and the Democratic Party.

She writes:
"I remember when there was a moral force at the center of the Democratic Party. I see it sometimes still, in a Sherrod Brown, a Dennis Kucinich, an Anthony Weiner. But they're not reflective of the general tenor of the Democratic Party anymore, and I think we would all do well to wake up to that fact. We elected Obama and then he sort of became someone else. He's doing a lot of good things in various areas, but he's certainly not changing the new bottom line: that corporations get to run the world.

He bailed out the banks, but he didn't stipulate that they had to start lending again. He got us health care, but he wouldn't say a word about single payer and he wouldn't raise a finger for the public option. He won the Nobel Peace Prize, but accepted it with a speech that was an apologia for war."

I, too, have been asking myself the question, "What Now?". And I have arrived at this answer.

If your allegiance is to a political party and you measure progress in terms of elections won or loss, then you go nowhere.

However, if your allegiance is to the progressive ideas of peace, civil rights, ending poverty, consumer protections, environmental protection, etc., you may want to consider registering as an Independent and subsequently casting your votes for the best candidate of any party during future elections.

Unlike Ms. Williamson, I don't believe that President Obama has suddenly transformed politically. I believe that his decisions as President are actually fairly consistent with his actions as Senator.

Remember June 2008 when then Senator Obama voted in favor of granting immunity to the telecom companies that illegally spied on US citizens.

It was John Edwards, not Barack Obama, of whom Washington Post columnist, E.J. Dionne credited in July, 2007 with "making the poor visible again".

It's true that Senator Obama voted against the war in Iraq which was a chief reason that he won support away from "that hawk, Hillary Clinton". However, candidate Obama made it clear during the August 2007 Democratic Presidential Debate that he would not hesitate to go after Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan if there was good intel on his location.

And I certainly can't recall candidate Obama specifically promising to reign in the banking or health insurance industries. So while I am a little disappointed by a few of his decisions, I can not say that I am surprised. Yet in still, I understand the disillusionment of many progressives and understand their need to voice their criticisms.

Criticizing President Obama's political actions does not mean that you do not support his presidency as some Democrats are trying to say. The truth is that supporting this President, or any other, should never mean remaining silent about the things that matter. Didn't we learn anything from the Bush/Cheney/Rove tactic for trying to silence their critics?

The simple reality is that neither major political party will ever be able to represent the beliefs of their constituents until there is campaign finance reform. And since I believe that there will be a public health care option before there is real campaign finance reform, we, like Marianne Williamson, must use whatever platform we are given to speak truth to power, even when our own party is in power. As Martin Luther King, Jr stated: "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

Mahatma Gandhi challenged each of us to become the change that we want to see in the world, And in this age of politics, if we choose to participate in the political process we must also be our own moral force.

Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.
-- Mother Teresa (1910-1997)

Read Marianne's Article at HuffingtonPost

1 comment:

  1. I have to agree with your opinion Pam. I am an Ohioan and we are represented by two entirely forces on the political spectrum in the Federal Government.

    I also firmly believe that we have to continually push our elected representatives to do the right thing. I do not believe in sitting back and just letting decisions being made without having some form of input. Every rep from my home state hears from me-frequently. I have no problem with giving praise when it is due or construtive criticism when it is warranted.

    I also believe that we should not be totally dependent on either political party to forward a sane and humane agenda. That is just not going to happen in our political system. That will happen when the people push the ideas within our communities.


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