The Dernogalizer

August 17, 2010

Obama and the Left: A fighting chance

Filed under: National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 10:59 am
Tags: , ,

I had an op-ed in the Diamondback last Thursday that addressed the recent feud between liberal activists and the White House over Robert Gibb’s comments.  Enjoy!

Obama and the Left: A fighting chance

By Matt Dernoga

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A lot of the chatter in the news cycle over the past couple days has been about White House press secretary Robert Gibbs’ outburst concerning the “professional left.” Gibbs ranted about how liberals need to quit whining about bad compromises on health care and financial reform, along with a lack of progress on progressive issues such as ending “don’t ask, don’t tell” and passing clean energy legislation. There’s also doubling down on the war in Afghanistan and moving to expand offshore drilling.

Activists on the left are said to be furious, and the media have a great story to run with this week. As someone who considers himself a progressive on most issues and is an ardent environmentalist, I find this recurring sniping between the left and the Obama administration to be overhyped to no one’s benefit.

Take it from this activist, there aren’t just debates between the left and the Obama administration about compromise, there are debates within the left all the time. Heck, when I was an undergraduate, the leaders in the environmental group I was in regularly had notable disagreements about everything from tactics to events to nuclear power. At the end of the day, we had success when we reached a decision, swept any and all drama under the rug and worked in unison to achieve our common goal.

Having seen the sheer ridiculousness of many politicians in the Republican Party, it should be pretty easy for the left to realize its goal for the next two-and-a-half months: maintaining control of Congress! It’s halftime for Obama’s first term. Activists, Congress and the White House can take credit for reforming health care, passing major financial regulatory reform and investing large amounts of money into infrastructure, state aid and clean energy through the 2009 stimulus package. Obama has successfully nominated two judges to the Supreme Court, the Environmental Protection Agency is moving to regulate many pollutants the previous administration ignored, and the Justice Department recently sued Arizona over its immigration law.

The administration has also done a lot of stupid stuff that makes me upset. Not pushing hard enough on climate legislation rises to the top of my list. I have no reservations about letting the Democrats know when they’re screwing up — I’ve devoted plenty of columns to that for local and federal Democrats. I can give just as nice a rant as anyone about how if everyone did things my way over the last 18 months, we’d be living in a utopia. I’m glad to see conservative state and federal Democrats beaten by progressives in their primaries.

But at the end of the (election) day, I support Obama and the way he and the Democratic leadership go about trying to actually solve the problems in the country. I’d be relieved if Democrats remained in control of Congress, and I still want Obama to have a second term equally as badly as I wanted him to have his first. That’s enough to energize me. If others sit in a corner because they were under the illusion that politics is easy and the Senate is the devil’s hell, be prepared to fall off the table and land back on the menu.

What’s at stake is a fighting chance at progress. That’s how the White House and the left should come together and frame this one.

Matt Dernoga graduated in May with a degree in government and politics. He can be reached at dernoga at umdbk dot com.


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