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I Am Not in the Democrats’ Base Constitutency, and We Aren’t on the Same Team

“Remind our base constituency to stop whining and get out there and look at the alternatives. This president has done an incredible job. He’s kept his promises.”
Joe Biden, September 27 2010

Has Barack Obama kept his promises?

“The idea that we’ve got a lack of enthusiasm in the Democratic base, that people are sitting on their hands complaining, is just irresponsible…. People need to shake off this lethargy. People need to buck up…. If people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren’t serious in the first place.”
Barack Obama, September 2010

Are we playing ball on the same team?

Barack Obama promised to obey the Constitution during his campaign. He hasn’t kept his promise. With warrantless wiretapping being expanded, not contracted, Barack Obama and the Republicans are playing on the same team against constitutional rights.

Barack Obama promised to protect the Constitution during his campaign. He hasn’t kept his promise. To the contrary, President Obama has refused to seat or even name members of the legally-mandated Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board for 615 days running.

Barack Obama promised he would “strengthen privacy protections for the digital age and will harness the power of technology to hold government and business accountable for violations of personal privacy.” He hasn’t kept his promise. To the contrary, President Obama is insisting that all online communications systems and encryption standards keep a back door open so that the government can always budge in. If they don’t, it will be a crime. Barack Obama and the Republicans are playing on the same team against privacy.

Barack Obama promised to reform the FISA Amendments Act and the Patriot Act during his campaign. He hasn’t done so. He hasn’t kept his promise. To the contrary, he’s lobbied hard against reform of these laws. Barack Obama and the Republicans are playing on the same team against constitutional rights.

Barack Obama promised to close Guantanamo. He hasn’t done so. He hasn’t kept his promise. To the contrary, he’s worked hard to keep the system of indefinite detention without trial preserved. He’s done his best to keep the secret of the other “black sites” where people disappear. Barack Obama and the Republicans are playing on the same team against constitutional rights.

Barack Obama promised to make government transparent. He hasn’t kept his promise. Instead he’s having information lawsuits on torture and assassination tossed out simply because the truth is a “state secret.” Barack Obama and the Republicans are playing on the same team against basic human rights.

I care a lot about civil liberties. I care about preserving the integrity of the Constitution against the impulses of anything-goes government. Barack Obama simply has not kept his promises in this domain. He’s done worse: he’s acted counter to them. In this policy domain, it’s not a matter of Obama not having done enough; he has done altogether too much in the wrong direction. Obama is with the Republicans, and for

I guess this means I’m not in the Democrats’ “base constituency” any more.

Keep your promises and I’ll “stop whining,” Joe. Stop stamping out constitutional rights and I’ll “buck up,” Barack. Until you do, I’m not going to “take my ball and go home,” but I’m not going to be your docile water boy.

5 comments to I Am Not in the Democrats’ Base Constitutency, and We Aren’t on the Same Team

  • Hell yes, you’ve got it right, Jim! I’ll stop whining when Barack Obama and Joe Biden stop promoting the same old rotten agenda we saw under George W. Bush.

  • I followed Joe Biden’s advise. I looked at the alternatives. I’m a Green now and a political ecologist – no longer a supporter of the Democrats and no longer a progressive.

    • Jim

      Ross, what do you mean when you say you’re a “political ecologist”?

      • I believe that an ecological (which is pretty much interchangeable with “holistic,” I guess) perspective should be taken on politics. Political systems are interconnected and interdependent, just as ecological systems are. When looking at any single issue, you must look at it in a holistic way, taking into account all of those connections and ways it affects other issues.

        For example, I don’t really believe there’s much of a difference between “social issues” and other issues. Something like abortion is very much class-related, related to the health care debate, even related to something as seemingly distant as the environment. So many things affect what abortion in this country is and it affects so many things that it doesn’t make sense to isolate it as a social issue. And that’s how I view every other political issue, as well.

        And, of course, the literal ecology of the planet is very important to me.

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