Monday, November 15, 2010

Process over substance

The expiration of the Bush tax cuts is on the horizon, and since the resurgence of Republican power during the midterm elections, it seems an extension of tax cuts for the wealthy is inevitable. But why would this be, considering that -- at least during the election -- Democrats campaigned on repealing cuts for the wealthiest of the wealthy and the political "left" still controls the Senate and the veto power of the presidency?

Paul Krugman offers an interesting solution in an op-ed article in today's New York Times. In short, Obama is a political pussy.

I've been avoiding such emotionally charged language in my posts as of late, but I can't hold back on it any longer. If I vote for a Republican, he or she will take action that is usually in line with the campaign rhetoric. If I vote for a Democrat, he or she will fail to represent my interests in favor of promoting bipartisanship.

As Krugman puts it, Obama "defined America’s problem as one of process, not substance." Obama and the Democrats as a whole have elected to place the process of bipartisanship above the achievement of substantive legislation, and what has that gotten us? Gitmo is still open; "don't ask, don't tell" is still in place; we still lack meaningful economic reform; campaign financing is a mess; the Supreme Court lacks leadership from the left; health care reform stopped short of, well, reform; and now the deficit disaster tax cuts will likely continue.(And isn't reducing the deficit one of your things Tea partiers? I'm just saying.)

And the right has played Obama against himself perfectly. Knowing that he seeks compromise and opens negotiations from a moderate point, they counter with an offer from the extreme right, painting Democratic policy decisions with buzz words like "socialist" or "elitist." The Democratic response is to compromise from an already compromised position, moving legislation to a new center, which is in actuality the political right.

This scenario is maddening. The real outrage from the left doesn't come from a misunderstanding on the part of the electorate, but rather a misunderstanding on the part of the politician. Voters on the progressive side of the isle have no true voice; they are relegated to voting for Democrats, who are legislative centrists at best.

So I guess my holiday wish is for the Democrats we send to Washington to stand up on behalf of their principles, if not for their constituents then for themselves. If it were me, I'd rather lose my position because I fought and failed than because I lacked the courage and political will to do what I thought was right. So sack up!

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