Thursday, November 18, 2010

Progressive disillusionment 

I don't think that it is fair that President Obama's base has started to beat up on him so much. If I was a part of that base, my view would be, hey, we are not even a quarter of the way through his two-term presidency, let's be patient.

Instead, there is venting on the pages of the New York Times in the Letters section today:
"If he caves in once more and allows the tax cuts for the wealthy to be extended, even temporarily, I will give up. After 50 years of voting Democratic in every national election, I will just stay home in 2012.

If the country is going to deteriorate as a result of bad government policy, I would rather let the Republicans take the whole blame and look for another Democratic leader, one with enough backbone to defend important principles"
"Mr. Obama’s campaign vow to rise above partisanship was much more than mere talk; he seeks to rise above all conflict and become the person who reconciles the divided parties: the Israelis and the Palestinians, the Pakistanis and the Indians, as well as the Democrats and the Republicans closer to home.

It is my serious concern that the president, far from being either aloof or humble, has all along thought of himself not as a political leader struggling to make his point of view prevail, but as a man of peace, with an almost divine mission.

This 75-year-old liberal finds the possibility that President Obama may not be in office after the next election surprisingly painless. I find it entirely just that when a man is too good to fight, he should lose."
The excerpts above are just two of the more biting ones; read all five letters, which illustrate various strains of progressive angst. This could get really ugly.

UPDATE: I agree with frequent commenters QuakerCat and DEC that the use of the term "progressive" ought to stop as it relates to the reference above, so I will not use it henceforth. Fellow Princetonian Katrina vanden Heuvel used to refer to roughly the same group of people as "the democratic wing of the Democratic Party" when she appeared on various cable TV shows, so maybe TDWOTDP will be the new acronym (she included herself in that group, as I recall).

I should note that in the title of the post, I was kind of going for a pun, as in, progressive = increasing.


By Blogger Georgfelis, at Thu Nov 18, 12:10:00 PM:

Dear Mr. President.

Raise taxes on people who actually know how to make money and create jobs or I'm going to go home and pout.

A. Clueless Democrat  

By Anonymous QuakerCat, at Thu Nov 18, 01:25:00 PM:

Please, please, please stop referring to Liberals as "Progressives". This is a self-proclaimed label that ceedes the higher ground to people who are supposedly looking forward. What part of anything the Democrats offer today or support has not already been done in Europe? As we are now seeing almost every single one of these ideas they espouse has failed or is in the process of being financially unsustainable.

So please tell me what is progressive about labor unions and their 1920's strong arm tactics despite having tons and tons of EEOC protection laws? Teachers unions who want nothing to do with changing their failed schools? Trial lawyers who cannot create enough reasons to sue productive American's? How are the irreconciliable environmentalists who seem to have only one solution for everyone to go back to a cave and die at the age of 28? How is evading the laws of America and granting citizenship to people who disobey those laws a positive progressive step towards an evolved society?

Unfortunately this is what the Democratic Party has become...progressive it is not!  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Nov 18, 01:28:00 PM:

These are New Yorkers, readers of that paper; what did you expect? It'll get a lot nastier normal people realize that the Kenyan is just dumb, lazy, shiftless and mendacious and the "vision" they believed in never existed.
First, they'll go after the Kenyan and quickly realize that does nothing. Then, they'll go into derangement mode and attack every Republican move as being the root cause of the Kenyan's failure.
Their only hope in the new Congress is that some Republicans are as crooked as the dems they replace. Every time I hear "compromise," "cooperation," or "bipartisanship" from a Republican, I sure the guy's been bought.  

By Blogger Kurt, at Thu Nov 18, 01:47:00 PM:

I should make some popcorn. This might be fun to watch.

On the other hand, Bill Clinton angered leftists with his triangulation in the mid-1990s, and that didn't hurt his re-election chances. I suspect that if Palin were the nominee in 2012, those same people would be falling all over themselves to vote for Obama again. (I live in Nevada, and as everyone should know by now, as much as the leftists said they hated Reid for not giving them the "public option," he was still able to get their support by demonizing Angle.)  

By Blogger DEC, at Thu Nov 18, 01:59:00 PM:

QuakerCat: "Please, please, please stop referring to Liberals as 'Progressives.'"

I agree, QuakerCat.

In the U.S. many liberals are actually "reactionaries," opposed to progress. They refuse to abandon discredited ideas.  

By Blogger SR, at Thu Nov 18, 02:12:00 PM:


100% on target. Why do liberals feel that way.
Notice I did not say think.  

By Anonymous Dan D, at Thu Nov 18, 03:10:00 PM:

I have another suggestion, how about Anonymous 1:28 and others stop referring to President Obama as the Kenyan. It is obnoxiously rude and disrespectful. I don't like the guy and certainly never considered voting for him, but millions of my fellow Americans did. He is our President, and referring to him by scurrilous names is demeaning to all of us, not to mention counterproductive in terms of persuasion. Those who can't be civil in their disagreements don't deserve a seat at the table.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Nov 18, 03:32:00 PM:

@ Dan D:


By Blogger pam, at Thu Nov 18, 04:02:00 PM:

Color me glib, but I don't read any posts that use "Kenyan" as a reference to President Obama.

Well said, Dan. D.  

By Blogger Elijah, at Thu Nov 18, 04:50:00 PM:

Those who can't be civil in their disagreements don't deserve a seat at the table.

yea, those who can't be civil...what's the phrase...
back of the bus for them  

By Blogger JPMcT, at Thu Nov 18, 05:05:00 PM:

"It is obnoxiously rude and disrespectful."

You are correct, of course.

I think a better term would be to use the same moniker that Mr. Obama uses for us:


That would fit the mark much better and have the added benefit of not insulting innocent Kenyans.  

By Anonymous Ignoramus, at Thu Nov 18, 06:48:00 PM:

"In the U.S. many liberals are actually "reactionaries," opposed to progress."


By Blogger Assistant Village Idiot, at Thu Nov 18, 09:09:00 PM:

I echo the comment about insulting names. Stick to content. There's plenty.

I agree also that we return to the term "liberals." I switched out of the politeness of letting groups be named as they want. But accuracy has its own importance. "Liberals" isn't particularly accurate either, however. But the old meaning is gone, now.

If conservatives had accomplished one of their long-held dreams like liberals got with universal health care - plus a wise Latina on the SCOTUS and deeply Keynesian economics - they would be ecstatic for a decade. This is an excellent illustration of the narcissism of TDWOTDP. They want their vision for the world to be effected, sweeping all others into the sea.

That group, BTW, is 19% of the country, according to Pew Research http://people-press.org/report/?pageid=949. They have coalition partners in the pursuit of power who aren't particularly liberal but have become dependent on liberals for largess.

That second letter-writer is catching on, however. Obama's whole shtick is that he unites all opposites merely by showing up. Both black and white, capitalist and socialist, elite and oppressed, Christian and Muslim, American and world citizen, he has the grandiose belief in his own special self.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Fri Nov 19, 01:00:00 AM:

"Progressive" to me is a disgusting and offensive variety of "liberal." Why?

To be 'progressive' you have to believe in 'progress.' Progress naturally requires a linear measurement; something you can progress toward. Generally speaking, these people see human development as such a line, with utopia at one end and barbarism at the other. Naturally, being right-thinking 'progressives,' they want to move everyone toward utopia.

Sweet, isn't it? Nothing wrong with that, is there? Until you examine what this means in context.

This philosophy does two things to its adherents. It combines all of them into a single group with a mission, and it grants them absolute moral superiority.

What this means in context is that if you are not progressive, you are the enemy; either a non-moving speedbump that gets in the way if you aren't moving toward utopia, or actually REGRESSIVE if you're moving the other way (i.e. actually opposing them).

Charitable progressives view people like this as ignorant. It happens fairly regularly where some progressive (and I'm surrounded by them these days...) makes some assertion about what people should do in a given setting, and I (or someone) will say that those people don't want to do that. The answer the progressive has is ALWAYS the same: "Well, they need to be educated." That is, the only reason that people disagree with them is out of ignorance. They regularly extend this arrogance to people of foreign cultures; the reason that Muslims marry 9 year olds, commit honor killings, and wear head coverings isn't because of honest cultural differences... it's because they 'need to be educated.'

If the ignorant refuse to be properly educated, then they are downgraded to stupid. They simply don't know what is best for themselves and should be led about like pets.

If someone opposes their agenda and CAN'T be labeled as ignorant (because they obviously are not; graduate degrees or whatever), then they are instead evil. I apparently fit into this latter category.

And it is this colossal hubris, this utter inability to recognize that differing ideas might be valid, that disgusts me. They are no better than, and hardly different from, religious fanatics who see non-conformity with their own worldview as sin or heresy that must be overcome, rather than merely different lifestyles to be respected, if not emulated.

I don't think that "progressive" is a positive term at all. Let them have it.  

By Blogger Gary Rosen, at Fri Nov 19, 01:12:00 AM:

AVI, it is horribly rude and disrespectful of you to refer to our President by that scurrilous name "Keynesian". I demand you apologize.  

By Anonymous Jim Miller, at Fri Nov 19, 11:50:00 AM:

In general, I prefer "leftist" to "liberal" or "progressive". Mostly, that's because I am something of a classical liberal -- free men, free speech, free trade -- myself, though that always takes an explanation these days.

But I also use it because so many people on the left are all too happy to be friendly to dictatorships, as long as those dictatorships are on the left.

(When I am feeling snide, I sometimes call leftists "reactionaries". I think it's a fair term to describe people who are obsessed with race, who want to bring back 19th century modes of transportation, and who want to establish Bismarkian social policies.)  

By Anonymous Brian Schmidt, at Fri Nov 19, 06:44:00 PM:

"Conservative" hardly describes the leadership of the American political right, particularly their willingness to spend vast sums of taxpayer money and their readiness to roll the dice on the environment. I started calling myself a fiscal conservationist a while back.

But I'm willing to give each group the right to choose its name.  

By Blogger Gary Rosen, at Sat Nov 20, 03:41:00 AM:

Yes, "welsher" Schmidt it is very staid and moderate to blow billions of dollars on questionable "green" energy technology that wouldn't stand a chance in the free market, while cramming a trillions-of-dollars health care takeover by dint of a bill so long and confusing that most of the people who voted for it didn't know what the hell was in it.  

By Anonymous Brian Schmidt, at Sat Nov 20, 01:26:00 PM:

Take it to TigerHawk if you think I've lost a bet, Gary. That was our agreement.  

By Blogger Gary Rosen, at Sat Nov 20, 03:14:00 PM:

Noted you couldn't answer the rest of my post, welsher.  

By Anonymous Brian Schmidt, at Mon Nov 22, 02:35:00 AM:

Gary, if you didn't like the term of the bet saying who judges a disagreement, then you should've suggested something else. Sorry about that.

And no, I'm not interested in your counter argument. People can read my view and yours and come to their own conclusion.  

By Blogger Gary Rosen, at Mon Nov 22, 02:39:00 AM:

I never agreed to TH as the arbiter. You came up with that after you lost.  

By Anonymous Brian Schmidt, at Mon Nov 22, 08:09:00 PM:

I think you're mistaken, Gary, but you can always track down the comment thread if you want to provide definite proof.  

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