Some here on Gather may be upsetÂ by this Progressive's criticism of President Obama & the Democrats in Congress. Be that as it may, I am certainly far from alone in my feelings. As part of the Progressive base that put these people in office, I am tired of being ignored by the center/right policy of the Obama Administration asÂ theÂ STARTING point in so-called "Negotiating" with the radical right GOP. The Democratic strategy is obviously to appeal to so-called "Independents"
I could care less if that strategy works, because if it does, the gap between "The lesser of two evils" will have narrowed to the point of being indistinguishable. "Yes We Can!"? Yes we can WHAT? "Change we can believe in"? Â WHAT change? Obama & 95% of the Dem. Congress are just as beholden to Wall St., Big business, the banks & the K Street lobbyists as the GOP is. Due to their lack of standing up for what used to be Democratic principles, the Dem's deserved what they got in the 2008 Congressional elections.
I have found another heroine in the Progressive movement.. Will her's be just another voice crying in the wilderness to a deaf, corrupt Wash., DC? I belong to a long list of Progrerssive organizations. Why can't they work together under an umbrella group that would really have some clout? Maybe because they all have their own fund-raising treasuries to worry about.....
Â "The list of liberal laments about President Obama keeps getting longer: He extended the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy. Health-care reform didnâ€™t include a public option. In the frantic final hours of the budget negotiations, instead of calling the GOPâ€™s bluff, he agreed to historic cuts in progressive programs. And Wednesday, in response to conservativesâ€™ focus on the deficit, Obama said that we have to â€œput everything on the table.â€
The real problem isnâ€™t a liberal weakness. Itâ€™s something liberals have proudly seen as a strength â€” our deep-seated dedication to tolerance. In any given fight, tolerance is benevolent, while intolerance gets in the good punches. Tolerance plays by the rules, while intolerance fights dirty. The result is round after round of knockouts against liberals who think theyâ€™re high and mighty for being open-minded but who, politically and ideologically, are simply suckers.
Social science research has long dissected the differences between liberals and conservatives. Liberals supposedly have better sex, but conservatives are happier. Liberals are more creative; conservatives more trustworthy. And, since the 1930s, political psychologists have argued that liberals are more tolerant. Specifically, those who hold liberal political views are more likely to be open-minded, flexible and interested in new ideas and experiences, while those who hold conservative political views are more likely to be closed-minded, conformist and resistant to change. As recently as 2008, New York University political psychologist John Jost and his colleagues confirmed statistically significant personality differences connected to political leanings. Brain-imaging studies have even suggested that conservative brains are hard-wired for fear, while the part of the brain that tolerates uncertainty is bigger in liberal heads.
Dissecting Obamaâ€™s negotiation strategy in the budget fight, Paul Krugman wrote in the New York Times, â€œIt looks from here as if the presidentâ€™s idea of how to bargain is to start by negotiating with himself, making pre-emptive concessions, then pursue a second round of negotiation with the G.O.P., leading to further concessions.â€ The Washington Postâ€™s Ezra Klein has criticized Obama for similarly failing to take a strong position on energy policy. But perhaps the president is only playing out the psychological tendencies of his base.
In the weeks leading up to the budget showdown, the Pew Research Center found that 50 percent of Republicans wanted their elected representatives to â€œstand by their principles,â€ even if it meant causing the federal government to shut down. Among those who identified as tea party supporters, that figure was 68 percent. Conversely, 69 percent of Democrats wanted their representatives to avoid a shutdown, even if it meant compromising on principles. With supporters like that, who needs Rand Paul?
Political tolerance is supposed to be essential to the great democratic experiment that is the United States. As Thomas Jefferson put it in his first inaugural address, those who might wish to dissolve the newly established union should be left â€œundisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.â€
But some errors, by their nature, undermine reason.
Writing in 1945, philosopher Karl Popper called this the â€œparadox of toleranceâ€ â€” that unlimited tolerance leads to the disappearance of tolerance altogether. To put the current political climate in Popperâ€™s terms, if liberals are not willing to defend against the rigid demands of their political opponents, who are emboldened by their own unwavering opinions, their full range of open-minded positions will be destroyed. Liberals are neutered by their own tolerance.
This is not to say that the brand of liberal tolerance that grew from the struggles for civil rights, womenâ€™s rights and gay rights is to blame for this lack of progressive political bite. For all the mockery of hyper-tolerant political correctness, identity politics is anything but tolerant. It demands that society be more accepting and inclusive of those who are marginalized because of their race, gender or sexual orientation. But it does not go so far as to tolerate intolerance. Those who fight racism and sexism in society do so out of deep moral convictions. They would never say, â€œOh, we can co-exist with Fred Phelps and the KKK and find a way to compromise.â€ Creating a society that fully embraces gay people and people of color means creating a society that is intolerant of homophobia and racism.
In fact, to many scholars of race and sexuality, â€œtoleranceâ€ is a dirty word. For instance, in his book â€œSigns of Struggle: The Rhetorical Politics of Cultural Difference,â€ Thomas R. West notes that tolerance is often used in a pejorative way to make excuses for inequalities in power. West makes the same critique of negotiation: When fundamental rights and core values are on the table, just talking about negotiating means youâ€™ve already lost.
It would be one thing if Republicans were negotiating in good faith, recognizing that reasonable minds can disagree on the matters at hand and that each will have to bend. But the GOP has become so extremist that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) made clear after the 2010 elections that his partyâ€™s agenda for the next two years was not governing but ensuring Obamaâ€™s defeat in 2012. Meanwhile, as they have for years, Republicans have openly shared their desire to shrink government so much that they can, as anti-tax activist Grover Norquist once promised, â€œdrown it in a bathtub.â€ Democratsâ€™ tolerance of such destructive positions is a sign not of nobility but of pathetic self-loathing."