Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thanks, Obama!

Before the end of Thanksgiving weekend, I did want to post a link and brief response to a really great recent Salon article by the ever-reliable Paul Rosenberg: "Giving thanks for the Barack Obama we had — and imagining the one who could have done so much more" Rosenberg captures very well my own "glass half full and half empty" sentiments about the Obama years.

As he points out, the greatest problem was that he failed to seize the moment and realize the full potential, especially early in his presidency. But another thing that strikes me is how much Rosenberg's list demonstrates the potential of a universalist economic program for the common good, rather than the demands construed as being from narrow identity groups. Yet many of the things Rosenberg cites would have improved the conditions not only for the white working class but also for the non-white working class.

It's interesting to think about how our politics might be different today if he had taken on Wall Street more vigorously, pushed for a larger economic stimulus, truly invested in a robust Green New Deal, helped struggling homeowners more than bankers, and strengthened unions. If he had tried these things--and even if the GOP had blocked him on some of it--would Trump have found it so easy to peal away white working-class voters and to turn black and Latino working-class voters into non-voters? As Rosenberg points out, it is important to think about this because it bears directly on the debate over the direction we should go now by reinforcing--with very specific policy examples--where we went wrong during the past eight years in our failure of ambition on the Democratic side. So, with Rosenberg, I give thanks for Obama--especially on the Iran deal, thawing relations with Cuba, leading us out of economic disaster, and supporting cultural shifts toward gay and lesbian equality, among other things--but we should not shy away from a sober assessment of where Obama went wrong.

1 comment:

Ambivalent_Maybe said...

I doubt that a more decent, more thoughtful person has ever occupied the Oval Office than Barrack Obama. He certainly did a lot of good during his terms in office. I'm willing to give him a pass on some of the things the Salon article brings up, but overall I think I agree that Obama was a good president who could have been a great one, or at least a better one, had he grasped the urgency of the times. It's ironic, because his "no drama" style is one of the things I like most about him. And sure, it's unlikely he could have gotten much more through congress than he did. But fighting and losing some more battles would have been helpful.