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My view of Obama in response to a note from a progressive friend

 

March 21, 2010

This is to clarify my position regarding Obama.

 

I take exception to your characterization of Obama as having betrayed us.

 

I certainly do not feel that he betrayed me.

 

Let us look at the facts.

 

First of all, Obama never presented himself as some sort of marxist, socialist, or even a social democrat. He always came across as pretty much a man in the mainstream of the Democratic Party. To be sure he made promises he did not all keep but all in all he is on the right track and thus far has made significant changes that will result in a better country.

 

We will probably get a health care bill this coming week, something this country has failed to do in a century. The US is on its way out of Iraq and let us give President Obama a year to see how things turn out in Afghanistan. As much as one could have hoped that he would have gotten out of this quagmire in short order, it takes years to do so and I will remind you of what happened in Algeria under the French and in the same Afghanistan under the Soviets. Regarding Guantanamo, he has basically turned the page on Bush’s legacy in that his government recognizes that the prisoners there are entitled to due process and has tried to have them transferred to high-security prisons in the US and to have them brought to trial in US courts on the mainland, a move stymied by the US Congress and local authorities. The international discourse of the US has changed dramatically and this is a development that has been noticed and appreciated worldwide. With regard to the environment, there has been a significant change as well: the EPA has changed the rules and is now treating and regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant harmful to human health, and, notwithstanding the partial fiasco in Copenhagen not entirely attributable to the US, the administration has a different view of global warming  and is acting accordingly. The Obama administration has taken steps –inadequate in some respects but very well within the mainstream of Keynesian economics– that have saved the country from an economic depression.

 

I could go on and on…

 

To be sure these advances are incremental and contrary to what many implicitly expected of and projected unwisely onto Obama, namely a revolution in Washington under his leadership. Well, he was elected to implement reforms and not carry out a revolution. This is the way social and economic change has always come about and continues to unfold in this country. Only some progressive people in this country –with no traction whatsoever in the US political arena and seemingly complete disregard for what has happened with revolutions in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, China, Vietnam, Albania, Ethiopia, North Korea, Yougoslavia and Cuba itself– seem to think that the process of societal change can be greatly accelerated and always take a maximalist position as a result.

 

The left can make a difference in this country and to do so it must first unify –I still cannot fathom why it fielded 3 presidential candidates, namely Dennis Kucinich, Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader who collectively garnered fewer than one million votes in the last round of national elections– and begin to compete at the local level and demonstrate that it can govern and in the process emulate the City of Berkeley, California. A national effort would then follow. We are talking here about a project that will take a generation to implement and I must confess that I see little if any evidence that the first step has yet been taken in this process.

 

In the mean time, the left should go all out in terms of critically supporting progressive initiatives –albeit imperfect ones– promoted by Obama and the democrats.

 

And please do not put Obama in the same class as Aristide.

 

This really insults my intelligence!

 

Max  Blanchet

Berkeley

 

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