A Letter From a Progressive to President Obama

Dear President Obama, I'll vote for you in 2012, but you're not making it easy to do so. Your administration's communication skills are, to be honest, horrible. And now we're in for two years of gridlock and hell.
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Dear President Obama,

First off, I want to tell you that despite the enormous landmines set in place by George W. Bush and the Republicans, you have accomplished amazing things in your first two years in office. You have saved the country from another depression, pushed through landmark health care legislation; you have slowed the downward spiral of job losses, ended the war in Iraq and cut taxes on most of the nation.

I enthusiastically canvassed for you in '08, registered voters, manned phone banks and contributed money. However, this election cycle I did none of the above and refused to contribute money to the DCCC. Let me explain.

I am a liberal. I am also your base. Yes, I understand that the rule in politics is don't sacrifice the good for the perfect. However, your progressive base was asked not just to sacrifice time and time again, we were held up to ridicule and blamed by your administration for your shortcomings, of which there were plenty.

You came into office with a huge mandate. You campaigned on changing the toxic atmosphere in Washington. You offered to reach across the aisle and involve Republicans in decision-making. All noble gestures and, true to your word, you made the effort. No problem there. You're a man of your word. You tried.

However... you didn't know when to stop. You continued to pander to the right desperately searching for common ground. A week after the inauguration, Rush Limbaugh announced that he hoped that you failed. Another tip off should have been the stimulus package. Although you consulted with them and watered it down on their advice, not one Republican voted to help save the economy. When given the choice of saving the country or destroying your Presidency, the Republicans chose destruction over patriotism. You were not dealing with rational people.

We voted for change and a fresh start. This was a "New Deal" moment. Instead, we on the left were disappointed by the number of Clinton re-treads you choose for positions in your administration. With the Clintonistias came the failed theory of triangulation. It didn't work then and it isn't working now. (Ironically, the one Clinton holdover who's done a fantastic job is Hillary. She was an inspired choice for Secretary Of State.)

To say that the opposition doesn't like you is an understatement. They hate you. No matter what you do for them, they will never vote for you. (Would it have hurt you to make the Republicans physically filibuster whenever they invoked it? It's called political theater and it would have demonstrated to the uneducated what the Repubicans really stood for. Trust me, they're going to make Democrats do it even if they whisper the that 'f' word.) Yet you continued to let them off the hook and pander to them at the expense of your base, the progressives.

Again not wanting to annoy the right, you didn't fire (as was your right as President) all the Bush-appointed federal prosecutors. These were the ones who passed Karl Rove's neo-con smell test for partiality. You never mentioned Bush other than to praise him. Previous problems were always referred to as events of "the past ten years." People needed to know what destruction Bush and the Republicans did in plain English rather than in polite, veiled references. Instead, you handed the right wing a stronger stranglehold of the judiciary as a peace offering. (By the way, are you surprised that the Republicans have blocked most of your judicial nominations?) Was this an olive branch to the right? If so, they threw it right back in your face and laughed.

The Republicans and conservative Democrats played you like a cheap fiddle during the health care "debate." It never really was a debate. By allowing Max Baucus and his bipartisan group of six to take charge of the bill, they played a stall game and the delay opened a void during the August recess that was filled by the teabaggers. The mainstream media fell in love with the teabaggers because yelling, rage and the possibility of violence (even manufactured and paid for) makes for good TV. By trying to let all sides be heard (even after Sen. DeMint announced that Healthcare will be your Waterloo), you lost control of the narrative. Where were the denunciations of the lies about "Death Panels?" Who gave the store away by giving in to republican demands delaying most of the new laws until 2014? Why were you always on the defensive? Who was calling the Republicans out on their lies? Certainly not the administration or the media. They have such little respect for you and Progressives that Andrew Breitbart was just hired by ABC News as a commentator on Election Night. (Speaking of the media, where was your FCC when it was discovered that Fox had contributed a million dollars to the Republican Governor's Association? What about Fox using the public airwaves as a tool to solicit money for Republican candidates? And what has your FCC done to safeguard Net Neutrality? Once the Internet goes, the truth will be lost for generations.)

You constantly referred to the summer of '09 and the more recent atrocities as "the silly season." It was far from silly. Teabaggers weren't good and decent people who felt alienated by the ballooning deficit as you rationalized. They were a small, well-orchestrated group of selfish, ignorant Fox viewers who were repulsed not by the deficit, but by the color of your skin. They brought guns to rallies. They lied constantly. They physically threatened citizens who attended Town Halls and refused to let Democrats speak. They posed under pictures of holocaust victims, referring to you as another Hitler on a regular basis. They painted Swastikas on Democratic congressmen's windows. They shot and killed people because Glenn Beck and the other Fox puppet heads lied and announced as a regular talking point that you were going to take away their guns. They spat on Democratic lawmakers. They stomped on the head of people who didn't agree with them. These are not good and decent people. They're psychopaths and trying to placate them or identify with some of their grievances was a waste of time. They are a small minority of the electorate who managed to get the lion's share of publicity and exposure at your expense.

No need to go into you administration's numerous quotes blaming the left, unions and progressive bloggers for all the country's ills. Who was making these communication decisions? Were you and your administration that smug to think that the left would understand? Why were Howard Dean, George Lakoff and the great minds of the left banished to the hinterlands? What was their crime other than being Liberals?

Your administration's communication skills are, to be honest, horrible. Would it have been so hard to put up a commercial with the jobs created/lost graph showing that just after you took office you stopped the hemorrhaging? This is the land of the scared and the stupid. Trying to explain that losing 80,000 jobs a month is better than losing 750,000 a month is a hard abstract for these knuckleheads to wrap their simplistic minds around. They needed pictures to understand. Where were the national Democratic commercials of Joe Barton apologizing, "ashamed" of you and your "shakedown" of BP? This from the congressman who will now become the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Where were the national commercials of John Boehner screaming "Hell no you can't!" Where were the talking points promoting your tax cut? Where were the ads exposing the Chamber of Commerce and the Koch Brothers? Where was the fight? Where was the passion? And you wonder why a large number of young voters stayed home?

Do you really believe if (God forbid) we are hit again like on 9-11, the entire country will rally around you like they did behind George Bush? The right is salivating at the thought of another catastrophe. And when it happens, the first words out of their mouths will be "I told you so" and they will call for your impeachment. These are the people you tried to placate instead of us. You forfeited your bully pulpit to Rupert Murdoch. Yet we've become the piñatas for your administration's frustrations.

"No Drama Obama" didn't work. Hate, lies and videotape of teabaggers stepping on Progressive's skulls are in. We elected Barack Obama, not Gandhi to lead us. Passive resistance doesn't compute to a Fox viewer. While I'm glad that your personal approval numbers are still high, they could have been so much higher had you listened to someone like Bernie Sanders instead of cow towing to Joe Lieberman. Passion is what motivates voters. Franklin Roosevelt welcomed his opponent's hatred. You seem oblivious to it.

The woman who told you "I'm... exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that I voted for" was absolutely right. You're mistake was being idealistic and naïve. Republicans were never a true opposition. You can have a civil conversation with an opponent. They treated you as an enemy of the United States and Progressive bloggers were the ones on the front lines defending you. It was Think Progress that uncovered the Chamber Of Commerce's plan to funnel foreign funds into the election. Sites like Daily Kos did more to help get out the vote than Tim Kaine. Media Matters was doing the administration's job of pointing out the lies and hypocrisy of the right while CBS, NBC, ABC, and CNN were breathlessly reporting on Mel Gibson's marital woes. Fox was busy soliciting funds for radical right candidates who hid from the public. The Left is already taking the blame from the corporate media for losing the election and I'm sure we'll hear the same from the White House. In fact, the Left was the only group that constantly defended you against the tidal wave of lies and distortions. Tacking to the center-right was a disastrous move on your administration's part. The truth is that the majority of Americans are center-left. By playing tough against the "lefties" you played right into the narrative of the conservatives. This is how you created the "enthusiasm gap."

So now we're in for two years of gridlock and hell. There's going to be a lot of yelling and posturing from the right and nothing is going to get done. The Republicans have no idea how to generate jobs or stimulate the economy, and they will not give you a single vote on anything that will. They'll probably shut down the government and blame it on you. Yet you've already announced that you see opportunities to work with Republicans after Election Day. Wrong. You fight them because you are on the correct side of the issues. You cannot reason with people who worship at the alter of Sarah Palin (One part Joe McCarthy, One part Father Coughlin and one part Lindsay Lohan.)

So this is why I didn't go all out this year. I voted, but I'm dispirited. We on the left are fighters and it just took the wind out of our sails when you refused to fight back. I hope I'm wrong about a lot of what I've written here. I'm rooting for you. I want to walk the districts make the GOTV calls with enthusiasm again. I still believe you can be a leader for the ages and you're the only one who can get us out this mess. I'll vote for you in 2012 but Mr. President, you're not making it easy to do so. It's time to dance with the ones that brought you to the White House. If you don't, you'll be dancing alone back in Chicago in three years and that will be a tragedy not just for you but also for the United States.

A Proud Progressive

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