As the last days of 2010 step into place for their final curtain call, I find myself humming the occasional holiday song, appreciating the snow-capped mountains, eating too many cookies, and wishing I could strangle some of my dearest friends on earth.
It’s only fair to tell you that you might be one of those people. But before you go getting all snippy and defensive you should also know that I didn’t start this little spat. You did. I tried to be patient with you and I tried to be kind. We’ve been going round and round about this for the better part of a year – and I was prepared to let it slide, again, but when you went off and found fault with the repeal of DADT, the passage of health care benefits for 9/11 first responders and the passage of the START Treaty, well, I’ve had enough.
No, I’m not talking about the Tea Party. I’m talking about the most liberal progressives among us.
The Pink Cloud
Remember how we bonded back in 2007 over a little thing called the Obama campaign? Boy oh boy, it went down smooth, didn’t it? We lapped it up like kitties at the milk bowl, sure that we had found the one to speak for every one of us.
Remember the early days of this presidency? Remember all the criticism Obama got for taking on too much, doing too many things too fast? Remember how we gave each other high fives because Obama was so ON it?
The Honeymoon is Over
Within months, you began complaining that he wasn’t really doing anything he promised to do. You felt he was paying too much attention to the conservatives and corporations. You went crazy when he escalated in Afghanistan , even though he promised to do exactly that during his campaign. You felt betrayed and that you had been suckered into a false promise of hope.
Once you became disenchanted, you gave up on Obama. You decided that incremental change is selling out to corporations; that negotiation is a sign of weakness and strategy is merely an attempt to hide procrastination; that compromise is a dirty word and that Obama has revealed himself to be no different than George Bush.
I was taken aback. But I trusted you so I took a deeper look. But I didn’t see what you were seeing.
Our First Fight
I think I know why we saw things differently. I don’t think you really believed Obama when he said he would speak for every one of us. You thought he meant everyone except for the people you don’t like.
So you gave up and you moved on to bigger dreams. You began building new grassroots organizations, recruiting from the old grassroots organizations, passing on your level of anger and frustration to your new members. That’s exactly what our Republican friends do, only they’re much better at it than you are. You know why? Because if there’s one thing the Republicans are really, really good at, it’s united fury. They don’t have a platform, they don’t have any ideas, and they don’t have any good candidates, but lordy, lordy, they’ve got anger. And it wraps them up in one great big hate-fest snuggie. You, my friend, you’ve got the fury but you don’t have the unity. It doesn’t look good on you and it smells funny, too. But you’re on a roll and you won’t be denied.
You see the health care law as a cushy backroom deal for the insurance companies. It doesn’t have Single Payer. It doesn’t have a Public Option. It takes too long to implement. Obama didn’t respond fast enough to the BP oil spill. He was a coward for not standing up to the Republican obstructionists. He lost your respect when he elected not to charge Bush/Cheney with war crimes. His cabinet is full of crooks. Gitmo. The Patriot Act. The Bail Outs. On and on you could go with all your evidence of how Obama has failed us.
Ironic then, isn’t it that so many of your other liberal progressive friends disagree with you? Just this week, Rachel Maddow of MSNBC discussed President Obama’s achievements very succinctly:
“If you would have told policy people and political scientists two years ago that halfway through his term in office, Barack Obama will have accomplished 85% of his agenda, they would have laughed at you and told you how impossible that would be given the amount of polarization in our legislative process. If you would go on to tell them that after one year Obama would lose his 60 vote majority in the Senate, and would still pass major legislation the experts would have told you to seek mental help, but this is exactly what President Obama has accomplished.”
~ Rachel Maddow, December 22, 2010
So no; I haven’t had a single second of regret over working to get him elected. I haven’t even questioned it – not once. Not only was the alternative too hideous to contemplate, but he was and still remains, the clear and obvious choice to lead our country into its next defining period.
The Crowning Blow
Remember the organizing principles of REI? Respect/Empower/Inclusion. You might want to blow off the dust and have another look at them because now you’re just strident and demanding. You don’t talk so much as you yell, and you let anyone who disagrees with you know what a worthless lump of uneducated piece of garbage you think they are.
Shame on you.
You don’t really want anything for “all” of us. You just want it for you. And you want it right now.
Shame on you for using the peace-and-love-for-all doctrine to defend your purist, elitist, dogmatic, unforgiving postures. Shame on you for castigating every small success because it wasn’t perfect. And shame on you for not being happy unless you make someone else unhappy, too. Would you chastise a preschooler’s accomplishment of having learned the alphabet because she still can’t read? Must it really be all or nothing with you?
I know. We used to be tight. Now you think I’m one of those deluded “Obamabots” who drank the kool-aid and can’t see the forest for the trees. That’s okay. I think you’re just as judgmental, obstinate, irrational, petulant and unforgiving as any Tea Party patriot.
You’re so positive you’ve been betrayed by a man, who by all indication, will be recorded as one of the best, most effective presidents in U.S. history. Being emotionally invested in that position means you can’t afford the possibility of any other reality. It would force you to face the crack in your values.
Friends support and love one another through good times and the bad. They also give you a kick in the pants when you’re being a jerk and tell you to snap out of it. Consider yourself told. You’re being a jerk and it’s time to wake up.
Begging You To Come Home
I know it’s been bad between us but I still want the same things as you. Obama has done plenty of things I wish he’d done differently and I’ve been angry at times, disappointed at others. I know why you’re upset and I understand.
I want you back. We’re better together than we apart.
We need to realize that creating more factions simply duplicates and dilutes existing efforts. The rift between us has made us nitpick everything, analyzing this or that, intellectualizing a comment here, a comment there, and dissecting the president’s every step. We’ve compartmentalized ourselves to the point where we’re in danger of becoming a moot point. We’re not just angry with the Republicans or the President – we’re angry with each other, evidenced by the amount of time we spend arguing about what the priorities are and how we should be going about dealing with them. We are passionate people who live by the creed of “you’re wrong and I’m right.”
This continued, systematic effort to dilute our greatest resource – the US in this grassroots movement – will be the death of us.
I don’t want that. Deep down, I know you don’t want that either.
We are a work in progress. We can choose to focus our energies solely on what hasn’t been done. Or we can focus on what has been accomplished and continue to press forward in that vein. There is so much work left to do! I can’t do it without you. You can’t do it without me.
I’m sorry I was so harsh. I’m sorry I blamed you for all of it. I did the same things I accused you of. I was strident and demanding and exacting in what I expected of you. I’m sorry, I really am. Can’t we put this behind us? I want you to come home. Please take a breath and come home. If you won’t do it for me, do it for the country. Please?