Skip to main content

For liberals the last two weeks have been pivotal.

The notable shift -- by many prominent progressive bloggers -- from playing defense to taking the offense is a harbinger of things to come, and the message is clear: neo-liberal policies have failed and we, the members of the base are not happy.

From this eye opening statement by Adolph Reed:

… the administrations of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama too often acquiesced to the demands of Wall Street and the right.

As a result, Reed tells Moyers, the left is no longer a significant force in American politics.

…to Henry Giroux’s indictment of neo-liberalism:
The biggest problem facing the US may not be its repressive institutions, modes of governance and the militarization of everyday life, but the interiority of neoliberal nihilism, the hatred of democratic relations and the embrace of a culture of cruelty.

…to Tom Engelhart’s condemnation of Obama’s duplicity

Think of us as having two presidents. One, a fellow named Barack Obama, cuts a distinctly Clark Kent-ish figure. In presiding over domestic policy, he is regularly thwarted in his desires by the Republicans in Congress and couldn’t until recently get his most basic choices for government positions or the judiciary through the Senate. For the most minimal look of effectiveness, he has to rely on relatively small gestures by executive order. In the recent history of the American presidency, he is a remarkably powerless figure presiding over what everyone who is a media anyone claims is a riven, paralyzed, even broken government structure, one in which the Republicans are intent on ensuring that a Democratic president can do nothing until they take the White House (which is almost guaranteed to be never). What this president wants, almost by definition, he can’t have. He is, as Guardian columnist Gary Younge wrote recently, a man who’s lost the plot line to his own story and has been relegated to the position of onlooker-in-chief.

But keep in mind that that’s only one of our two presidents. The other, a fellow named Barack Obama, flies (by drone) like Superman, rules more or less by fiat, sends U.S. missiles to strike and kill just about anyone, including American citizens, anywhere in the distant backlands of the planet, and dispatches the country’s secret warriors (whether from the CIA or the special operations forces) wherever he pleases. He can, with rare exceptions, intervene violently wherever he chooses. He can (by proxy) listen in on whomever he’s curious about (including, it seems, 320 German business and political leaders). He rules over what former Congressional insider Mike Lofgren calls the “deep state” in Washington, a national security apparatus that is neither riven, nor broken, nor paralyzed, with only the rarest intercessions from Congress. In this world, Obama's powers have only grown, along with the “kill list” he reviews every week.

…to Gary Younge’s questioning of the president’s relevance:
Barack Obama has now been in power for longer than Johnson was, and the question remains: "What the hell's his presidency for?" His second term has been characterised (sic) by a profound sense of drift in principle and policy.
…to Alexander Reed Kelly’s insight on the rise of populism:
They (neo-liberals) don’t talk much about “class,” like some troublemaker from the ’30s; they talk about “inequality,” which is a delicate and intricate signifier. Oh, it is extremely complex. It requires so many charts.

… [But] “Inequality” is not some minor technical glitch for the experts to solve; this is the Big One. This is the very substance of American populism; this is what has brought together movements of average people throughout our history. Offering instruction on the subject in a classroom at Berkeley may be enlightening for the kids in attendance but it is fundamentally the wrong way to take on the problem, almost as misguided as it would be if we turned the matter over to the 1 percent themselves and got a bunch of billionaires together at Davos to offer pointers on how to stop them from beating us over and over again in the game of life. (Oops — that actually happened.)

“Inequality” is the most basic issue of them all, the very reason for liberalism’s existence. It is about who we are and how we live. Virtually every other liberal cause pales by comparison. This is the World War II of political subjects, and if we are going to win it must be a people’s war, not a Combat of the Thirty between the plumèd knights of the Beltway. We owe the economists thanks for making the situation plain, but now matters must of necessity pass into other hands. If the destruction of the middle class is ever to be addressed and solved, the impetus must come from below, not from above. This is a job we have to do ourselves.

To this admission from Digby:
Sheesh, it's not hard to see why so many people reject the Democratic Party even though they agree more with its policies than with the GOP's. It's just too ... embarrassing
There have been so many recent diaries written in the same vein that I have lost count. For example, Karen Greenburg’s fact check on Obama’s campaign promises:
In other words, the absence of accountability for one of the most egregious crimes committed in the name of the American people persists. And from drone killings to NSA surveillance policies, the Obama administration has continued to support those in the government who are perfectly ready to live above the law and extrajudicially.
On this commandment, then, the president has once again failed to meet his own standards.

Five years later, Obama’s commandants need a rewrite. Here’s what they should now look like and, barring surprises in the next three years, these, as written, will both be the virtual law of the land and constitute the Obama legacy.

And Stephen Pizzo’s message to Nancy Pelosi:
It's time to start calling this what it is: political corruption ... rampant, open, widespread, growing, insidiously entrenched and self-staining political corruption.
From Rep. David Scott:
"What your audience needs to understand is the level of disrespect that this president has done to this nation on these appointments," Scott said in the radio interview. "The president is gone in 29 months. These individuals will be left on the courts to impact and affect all future generations."
John Hamilton:
They (Democrats) still haven't figured out that you have to have something to offer voters in order to win elections.

This means that you have to stand for something that means something, like progressive taxation, enforcement of environmental standards, support for public education, health care for ALL, and a business climate that is competitive and regulated so that no one has an unfair advantage and the public is safe from harmful products.

…They (Democrats) treat minorities and the unions as hostages - voters who have no choice but to vote for them - and try to coax "Independents" with "moderation" and platitudes. In essence, they end up disrespecting ALL voters, and, of course, LOSE.

Shamus Cooke:

One key reason labor unions haven’t been able to inspire their members —let alone the broader working class — is their insistence on making demands that are acceptable to the Democratic Party. This pragmatic approach to politics has been suicidal for the labor movement, and forgets a fundamental law of working class politics: the vast majority of working people only became active in politics when they are inspired…
I would add; they frequently become angry activists if the discomfort level reaches a saturation point. And I think a majority of Americans have crossed that line.

Even people who are fighting D.C. corruption from outside the system have noticed the change. For example, there was Kevin Zeese’s and Margaret Flowers’ article: There's a Broad Consensus Among Activists Across the Country — Is Social Change Around the Corner?

And the failure of Democrats to get the minimum wage raised to $10.10 elevates the status of Socialist Kshama Sawant who has managed to drive the Seattle city council to embrace a $15 minimum wage. If you will remember, Sawant said this:

“We will make progress only on the basis of a fundamental and systematic change,” Sawant said in a response on behalf of the Socialist Party. “We need a break from the policies of Wall Street and corporate America. We need a break from capitalism. It has failed the 99 percent. Both parties bow down before the free market and loyally serve the interests of their corporate masters, with the only difference being in matter of degree. The political system is completely dysfunctional, and it’s broken.”
I think the message to the president and all Democrats is clear –- we’ve had enough; we won't embrace this culture of cruelty anymore. The blatant anger behind the diaries of the last two weeks suggests the discontent has reached a level too high to ignore, and the words that are being written are strong and factual enough to crush the obfuscation and spin spewed by Obama and his followers.

And I think an even stronger message is being sent to the leaders of the Democratic Party: if you want to win in 2014, and if you want to keep the republicans out of the White House in 2016, then you had better listen.

The following sentence from Sawant’s message is a portent to Democrats -- the 2016 election will not be a cakewalk if they nominate Hillary Clinton.

“We need a break from the policies of Wall Street and corporate America.”
I think most people in America would concur, and I know most liberals certainly agree. The fight is coming to the neo-liberals and a strong head-wind will be in their face for the remainder of Obama’s term.

Thomas Franks said this in Salon:

What really defines our time is the simultaneous soaring of inequality and the maddening inability of most progressives (there are exceptions, of course) to talk about it in a way that might actually inspire anyone to get off their ass.
The numerous diaries written by Progressive writers -- attacking a Democratic administration -- might signal the kid gloves have been removed.

Are the neo-liberals listening? I doubt it.

6:40 PM PT: For those who have asked for links:

Henry Giroux

Thomas Frank - Salon

Tom Engelhardt – Karen Greenberg

Adolph Reed Kelly

Gary Younge

Stephen Pizzo

Rep. David Scott

John Hamilton

Shamus Cooke

Kshama Sawant

Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences