I wrote an article on HuffPost a couple of days ago that spoke, among other things, about Barack Obama's ability to mobilize the Democratic base. One commenter responded with this: "With all due respect Mr. Loewe, Obama's base is also furious....with him." Another said: "The author neglects a critical logic. The Democrats have betrayed the voters who went to the dance with them. Flopsie has reversed virtually every major campaign promise. Hope for change is gone."
This sentiment is familiar to most who read this website and others; it's that of the "Where's the change?" crowd on the left, those who believe that Obama has turned out to be little more than a compassionate version of George W. Bush.
I'm not in that camp. I wasn't under the impression that Obama was going to somehow circumvent the political process in Washington. I didn't think he was going to end the game; I thought he was going to play it differently... and better.
And largely, it's clear he has. On policy alone, for those who ask, "Where's the change?" I'd remind you that the stimulus bill alone has over $60 billion in renewable energy investments, that the equal pay act is now law, that federal restrictions on stem cells are over, that Obama delivered on the middle class tax cut he promised, and that the White House has tighter ethics rules and broader transparency than any previous administration. Let's not forget that, like he promised, Obama is withdrawing forces from Iraq, his justice department has initiated a torture probe and the DEA has been ordered to stop raiding medical marijuana dispensaries. He's meeting the Afghanistan question with a critical skepticism and the kind of commitment to clear strategic goals that any anti-war Democrat should appreciate. On September 23rd at the United Nations, he said, "On my first day in office, I prohibited -- without exception or equivocation -- the use of torture by the United States of America." He did that too.
Oh, and by Thanksgiving he will almost surely sign a health care bill, the details of which are still unclear, but the outcome of which will almost certainly be the closest we've ever come to achieving universal health care. Those who are frustrated with him are forgetting that it wasn't a public option Obama had promised to bring to the country, it was universal health care. A promise broken by every other Democratic president will be fulfilled by Obama by the end of his first year in office. Where's the change? It's absolutely everywhere.
I get the sense that when people say, "Where's the change?" they either don't understand what's happening around them, or else they really mean, "Where's all change?" There is a difference between saying that the president has not been progressive enough, and saying he's not progressive. There is a difference between saying he hasn't brought the specific change you're looking for and saying he hasn't brought change at all. There has already been undeniable, overwhelming change.
I have no issue with those who want, expect and will demand even more change from this president. But for those who continue to make arguments that suggest that Obama has done essentially nothing since getting into office, I have difficulty listening. It's an irrational view, based on passions and frustrations, but not facts.
It's a way of thinking, a way of arguing, that's best left to the Birthers.