Should President Obama be considered “progressive?”
First and foremost, in the words of the prominent activist Cornel West, “I think it is morally obscene and spiritually profane to spend six billion dollars on an election, two billion on the presidential election.” I am outraged that such large amounts of money were spent on an election and no serious discussions were raised on the real issues: the persisting problem of poverty, trade unions being pushed against the wall with stagnating and declining wages and drone bombings on innocent people.
The amount of money spent on this presidential election is baffling. On top of that, one cannot even believe the statements that were made during the presidential debates. For those who were unaware, fact checkers had to work overtime in order to unveil the lies embedded in this presidential election.
I think it is time that we start rethinking how we do presidential politics in this country.
In the words of Tavis Smiley, “It used to be that campaigning would stop and governing would begin.” However, that was not the case during this election.
While the President indeed fulfilled some of his promises, like the progression of healthcare, it should be noted that many were left unfulfilled, not to mention the open debate on C-SPAN that never quite received its deserved attention.
Indeed, the President entered office during a time when the economy was in a financial crisis, however I think it should be noted that it will take time to bring forth change, and I believe the President did not consider that reality.
I think that a certain amount of risk has to be taken to be labeled as “progressive,” and I believe that President Obama has not taken any risks. FDR took a risk (fighting on the sides of poor Americans), Lincoln took a risk (declared the Emancipation Proclamation), and LBJ took a risk (declared War on Poverty). LBJ once stated, “I know that advancing this legislation, voting rights, civil rights is going to lose my party, the South, for two decades.” And he did just that; his own words were prophesied with the appointment of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.
Now, is it fair to label the President as “progressive” with his signing of the National Defense Authorization Act, which essentially allows the U.S. government to detain American citizens with no due process, no judicial process, or even assassinate based on executive power? Quite frankly, that is authoritarian. A country that places its moral values on the ideas of “freedom and justice for all,” and detains American citizens without a fair trial completely baffles me.
In the President’s second term to establish legacy, I would like to see what risks he takes. Now, will he discuss the issues of poverty? Is he going to speak on the drone bombings? In the words of Tavis Smiley, will he mention the phrase “prison industrial-complex?” Bush would not say the phrase, “climate change,” Reagan would not say, “AIDS.”
Before labels are thrown around, I would just like to see what risks President Obama is willingly or even going to take. I think what makes a “progressive” president is one who is forced to take risks, but risks that are beneficial. And in terms of his presidency, Obama has not been that risk taker.