A lot has been written about the election in Massachusetts and what it means for the the Democratic Party and President Obama's agenda. Of course, the Republicans have been all over the airwaves insisting that this means that the country is not in favor of President Obama's "far left" agenda. My fear is that the Democrats are listening. I contend that the Massachusetts election results mean that the Obama Administration hasn't gone left enough, and here is why.
When President Obama was elected, the country was going through a severe financial crisis and dwindling support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was swept into office on a sea of hope and change. It appears that the President was hopeful that the seriousness of the situation our country was facing would be the catalyst for true collaboration between the Democratic and Republican parties for the good of the country. However, he underestimated the tenacity of the Republicans and how much they prioritize politics and power over country. He got caught in a trap of seeking common ground and compromise, while the other side never intended to compromise at all. A perfect example is what happened with the stimulus package. The final bill was a watered-down version, including a huge percentage of tax cuts instead of job creation components. Economists, such as Paul Krugman, said it was no time to worry about the deficit and that we should have spent way more on the stimulus for it to be highly effective. And what did Obama get for this compromise? Not one single House Republican vote. And watered down stimulus meant watered down results.
The same thing happened with health care reform. The Democrats actually started from a position of compromise by not even putting single payer on the table. Then, they gave away public option, all to appease these supposedly moderate Republicans and conservative "Democrats". Time was squandered with negotiation and compromise until the Democrats lost their sixty-vote super-majority anyway.
Obama has increased troops to Afghanistan, has not repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", has not investigated the war crimes of the Bush/Cheney Administration, and has not pushed financial industry reform.
So, the end result is that progressive Democrats are disappointed and even though there are signs of improvement in the economy, many are still hurting. For those people, it is easiest to blame the party currently in power and to forget about the eight years of Bush policy that led us here.
By watering down the platform, President Obama has watered down the passion that got him and many other Democrats elected. He has succeeded in finding a middle ground but one that no one is happy with.
That is why I say now is not the time to move even more towards the middle. If we stand on the principles that economic stimulus and health care reform are good for the country, that the wars are unjustified, ineffective against terrorism and a drain of our resources, that the financial services industry need to be regulated so that those who caused the global financial crisis are not still raking in billions of dollars in bonuses and still capable of making the same mistakes that got us here, then we cannot buy the self-serving analysis from the right. Now is the time to stand on principle and go left, President Obama, go left!