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Liberals and Progressives Happy but Not Elated About Obama's Re-Election

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Politics and Democracy page.

The moderate beat the reactionary. Two cheers!

Americans stood up for their values. Three cheers!

Many Americans sighed with relief the day after the 2012 election that they had beaten back a powerful right-wing assault. There was little enthusiasm about what we had achieved in retaining Obama, but much joy that for the moment the most reactionary forces in American life were held at bay. Liberals and progressives are happy, but not elated, at the outcome.

Obama voters are now trying to get themselves ready for the variety of ways that Obama will once again disappoint us. Our re-elected president is poised to embrace some variant of an austerity program (sometimes called Simpson/Bowles) with large-scale cutbacks to social programs for the poor and middle classes and a narrowing of who can receive Social Security benefits and at what age, all done in the name of an invented fiscal emergency or debt crisis which are only real to the extent that one's highest priority is paying off the bankers and large investors.

Obama will do nothing to provide mortgage relief for those still suffering from the irresponsible behavior of banks and loan companies. He will talk cap and trade for an environment that can only be effectively protected by a serious tax on carbon emissions and by aggressive restraints on the oil, gas and coal companies that are at the forefront of environmental destruction. He will continue his assault on whistleblowers, allow his Justice Department to harass medical marijuana providers even in states where the voters legalized it, continue his drone attacks with their murderous impact on civilians, and allow Monsanto and other large corporations to shape his agricultural policies. And he is unlikely to seriously restrain Netanyahu's desire for a war with Iran that might eventually drag in our troops, and he almost certainly will not publicly demand that Israel end the occupation of the West Bank. He will compromise before fighting for liberal or progressives program and will avoid challenging the dominant worship of the marketplace that has become the mantra of all Republicans and the right wing of the Democratic Party. His conception of educational reform as measured by test score outcomes will continue to frustrate teachers and students alike, and it will be justified in terms of Obama's goal for the United States to continue to dominate the global economy (rather than calling for global cooperation in which our success is linked to the well-being of everyone on the planet and on the well-being of the planet itself, rather than just on making the United States number one in its economic, political, military and media powers over others).

Because the expectation level is low, this time his supporters will not be disillusioned, but neither will they be mobilized. Despite the rhetoric of "democratic involvement" that he preaches during election seasons, there is little reason to believe he will actually set up mechanisms to get serious feedback from those who stretched themselves to ensure his re-election.


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