I seem to have lost faith in the promise of the Obama administration, which has pursued a radically centrist agenda and left me sorely disappointed. There has been little real change. Kevin Drum summarizes the last eighteen months best in a much-circulated quote:
Here’s the good news: this record of progressive accomplishment officially makes Obama the most successful domestic Democratic president of the last 40 years. And here’s the bad news: this shoddy collection of centrist, watered down, corporatist sellout legislation was all it took to make Obama the most successful domestic Democratic president of the last 40 years. Take your pick.
Nominees like Sonia Sotomayor or Elena Kagan, while a lock for confirmation, are exactly the kind of uninspiring mediocrities that have once again disillusioned us. If one of Kagan’s strongest credentials is that Lawrence Lessig endorsed her, why not reach for the stars and nominate Lessig himself? Or Harold Koh?
It’s difficult to come to terms with the fact that Barack Obama, who signaled an end to the Bush era abridgement of rights and liberties, may in fact be worse than his predecessor; a “third Bush term” that brings to their logical extreme many of the policies put in place that Obama had suggested might be curtailed. And even if all this does not accurately reflect Obama’s actual intentions, it points to something nearly as unforgiveable – half-assing it.
If you’re serious about a high-speed rail program, don’t just hand out the paltry sum of $8 billion and expect the states to pay for the rest. That would be worse than not spending anything at all. And at the same time, there are 1.8 million construction workers without anything to build. That’s an industry-wide unemployment rate of 20.1%. I mean, get serious about this. Put them to work. We need massive repairs to our roads, bridges, and vital infrastructure? Then sign a $1 trillion package. Or at least propose it. To quote The West Wing, “this is a time for American heroes – and we reach for the stars.”
Right now we’re just gazing at our shoes.
Crossposted at The Smolerian.