by Joel S. Hirschhorn / June 8th, 2010
After listening to a number of speeches at a national conference
of progressives I come to this conclusion: Progressives are more than
eager to take credit for electing President Obama and even to complain
about the many failures of him and his administration. They
overwhelmingly feel that his campaign promises were far, far better than
what he has delivered. They are disappointed. They are frustrated.
They are sad. But ultimately they are also cowards.
Why do I say this? Because they seem completely incapable of using
straightforward language to criticize Obama. They resist saying he has
lied to the public, betrayed progressives and sold out to corporate
interests. Most importantly, they do not want to openly confess and
proclaim that he has been a sham government reformer.
At a time when progressives are working hard to get candidates for
the US Senate to oppose Democrats they deem unacceptable in current
primaries, they show no willingness to open the door wide to creating
the circumstances to get someone they view as a better progressive to
compete against Obama and keep him from winning a second term.
In other words, they seem intellectually incapable of concluding that
Obama no longer deserves their support based, for example, on the hard,
painful facts that he has persisted in wasting the country’s wealth and
lives on two useless wars, he never cleaned up the regulatory system in
the Department of Interior that allowed BP and other companies to
escape effective regulation in the public interest, and he never fought
for a public option in the health care reform legislation. While he was
eager to bail out Wall Street he has shown no courage in saving Main
Street. He has accomplished nothing effective to create private sector
jobs and stands idly by as the middle class continues to slip down into
the lower class.
Progressives admit that Obama is a consensus builder while hesitating
to go all the way and scream that bipartisanship chasing and consensus
building have overwhelmed adherence to reformist and populist
principles. They seem blind to the reality that the success of the tea
party movement results from a failure by Obama to seek necessary
government reforms that would show him to be a true change agent working
to create better rather than bigger government.
If progressives do not have the courage of their convictions how can
they expect Obama to have the courage of his supposed convictions?
The hard truth for progressives is that Obama has shown that he is
just another politician playing the same old, corruption games and
caving in to many special and corporate interests. Obama surrounded
himself with a number of people who had no progressive credentials
whatsoever, including his Chief of Staff, Treasure Secretary and top
economic advisor. No surprise therefore that the Obama White House
plays all the same old games that maintains corrupt and dysfunctional
Just as so many Americans have woken up and are demanding criminal
prosecution of BP and making them pay fully for all of the terrible
environmental and economic impacts their greed has produced,
progressives should be leading the nation in condemning Obama. Now is
the time for progressives to admit that they are not getting the changes
they were waiting for and never will get them from Obama. Progressives
need to find the courage to openly say that one term is enough for
Better to create the conditions for someone else to become the
reformer so many Americans want in the White House. Otherwise
progressives may wake up to Republicans scoring very big in the coming
mid-term elections and also offering up someone to take over the White
House. Unless progressive are willing to take some risk they risk
losing even more than they already have lost. Don’t stay with a loser.
Seek a real winner. Someone people in the tea party movement might
Joel S. Hirschhorn has a new book, Delusional
Democracy: Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government,
which supports constitutional conventions and other peaceful ways to
restore American democracy. Read other
articles by Joel, or visit