Obama and Congress have disappointed. Let's not make it worse.

| Oct 9, 2010

Our editor asked me to contribute to The Boulder Reporter. For reasons I will explain shortly, I need to do so pseudonymously. His hope was that I would produce interesting tidbits about life in our little town and maybe I will. But for starters I want to urge you to vote.

I am a liberal in my mid 60s. I’ve been politically active off and on since the Nixon/Kennedy campaign, although I campaigned, at the behest of my parents, for Nixon. After all, “Experience Counts.” When we moved to Denver, I joined the Congress of Racial Equality – the NAACP wasn’t radical enough.

So being a liberal, and at various points, much further left than that, I have become something of a miserablist, schooled in the ways of malaise. Experience counts. And how.

<cutline><strong>Waiting for Obama</strong><br /><em>Young fans at a Ft. Collins Obama parade, 2008 (Photo by the author)</em></cutline>When Barack Obama won the White House and the Democrats did so well in Colorado I was elated. I attended the victory party at the County Fair Grounds in Longmont and people, especially young people, were weeping openly.  

While we were in the worst financial crisis since the 1930s –- in some ways worse than the ’30s –- this very crisis gave us the opportunity to address problems that dated back to the “Reagan Revolution” and had been festering ever since. It was clear that something needed to change and that the very existence of the middle class was at stake. One hoped that the threat to our well-being would have led to a unity of purpose, statesmanship and bi-partisanship and result in genuine reform.

It was clear, at least to me, that the disasters of Iraq and Afghanistan and the shame brought on our county by the outrages exemplified but not confined to Abu Ghraib had discredited the use of overseas aggression for political gain and graft.

Toxic sewer of race politics

It seemed possible that a generational and demographic shift had taken place and that we could finally start disentangling the issues of class and opportunity from the toxic sewer of race politics that has been the curse of our nation.

It seemed as though the Republican Party had finally become a permanent regional party, clearly on the wrong side of history, perpetually in the minority, beginning their 30-year sojourn in the political wilderness.

Things seem to have not turned out that way. The defeat of McCain, a man of only illusory probity anyway, seems to have permanently silenced any lingering moderation in the GOP. My assumptions that they would recognize the depth of the various crises we were in and would work for the betterment of the whole were unfounded and naive.

My assumptions that the GOP would refrain from race politics out of shame were woefully wrong.

Even though I have been watching the absurdities of the Senate my entire adult life, I had anticipated the damage a 40-seat minority could do through the abuse of its antiquated rules (see this New Yorker article).

Ah, what could have been

Now, it’s quite easy to say that Obama and the Congressional Democrats have failed. However, consider what the Administration and the Pelosi House would have accomplished had the Senate not required a super-majority to pass anything of substance. The health care and financial reform legislation, the passing of which were major if imperfect accomplishments, would be better. We would have made progress on climate change. And so on (read more here and here).

* * *

Now why am I posting under an assumed name? Well, I work for a living. I work for and with people who have very different views than mine and for the most part I work well with and like them. Their professed political leaders call me, by implication, a traitor, a communist and a Fascist. Some of them would not do business with me if they though I was a liberal.

I don’t like this. I also don’t like what the Right is doing in this country and never have. But I especially don’t like it now. I will therefore always vote and I will always vote against them and do so gladly.  

Quinn, welcomed here as our newest columnist, will share his views on matters in Boulder and well beyond, pseudonymously and periodically.