If Arianna Huffington is too edgy for you, here’s Joan Walsh of Salon. She’s another tribune of presidential powerlessness. Once again the naive Obama critics harbor a foolish belief in a magical president. Once again Cornel West is name-checked, succumbing to “cruelty and irrelevance.” Cornel, cruel? The dude loves everybody! How could he be cruel? I sure don’t love everybody, and I can be cruel.
The article subhead is “what the left must really do to defeat the wingnuts.” (Spoiler alert: the answer is stop being lefty, shut up, and vote for Democrats.) Walsh tries to have it both ways. She has criticized Obama too, really. In fact, most of the column is about bad Republicans. This gives her the right to lecture us on not expecting too much.
Let’s tick off a few things Obama could have done, that did not depend on the Congress, but didn’t.
1. He could have said, every day, that additional deficit spending, lots of it, would facilitate the otherwise anemic economic recovery.
2. He could have prosecuted miscreants in the financial sector, instead of putting that task in the hands of a fellow in DoJ who ended up joining that sector.
3. He could have reduced the rate at which U.S. drones blew up wedding parties and unindicted U.S. citizens.
4. He could have defended the right of assembly of Occupy and Ferguson demonstrators, and freedom of the press for reporters who covered them. (Walsh calls this “stagecraft,” rather than “statecraft.”) He could have restrained the NSA and prevented them from lying to Congress.
5. He could have provided a word of encouragement to the folks who besieged the Wisconsin state capital in 2011.
I could go on . . . The point is that Obama could continue promoting policies that the Republicans have blocked, and he has had free rein to screw up foreign policy, homeland security, and the administration of justice. And he doesn’t need permission to speak. So the Green Lantern/magical president memes are just crap. Apologetics for the DP: shut up and vote.
The common thread is the desperate need of electoral obsessives to deny the possibilities of independent (of Democrats) political organization. I vote Democrat, and I encourage all to do so, but there is no actual party to join. It’s a machine to harvest your credit card and get you to the polls. Outside of that, there is nothing there. Your contributions pay for elites to hobnob with each other. That’s the party. You’re not in it.
It is not even necessary to specify here where independent action should go. I’ve got my own preferences. The point is the conversation should proceed from there. It is the starting point for progress. Vote-nagging is not progressive politics.