Contrary to popular belief, the United States is a progressive country
The usual conservative talking point that the United States is a “center-right” country seems to have some cracks in its logic. President Barack Obama’s address at his second inauguration is being hailed as the most liberal of inaugural address’s in recent history.
Though I disagree with that specific analysis, President Obama did deliver some very progressive policy points and it appears that the American public favors his progressive agenda laid out in his address.
Conservatives walked away stunned by Obama’s inaugural address. To the far-right, the address was the most progressive/liberal speech they had ever heard, not surprising after three decades of conservative Reaganism. “Agree with me, or you’re un-american” is what one conservative claimed to have interpreted from the speech, via tweet by Chris Cilliza. Needless to say, fox news also had a field day dissecting his speech, you’d have thought Karl Marx had been resurrected.
It’s funny how the right-wing thought the President who is a self proclaimed “liberal” Democrat, should somehow have given a more conservative address. Leave aside the fact that Obama and the Democrats trounced the Republicans last November, it seems that the American public has been swayed further to the left since Obama won his first presidential election in 2008.
After Obama’s address, a series of polls were taken to see how the American people viewed the more liberal agenda Obama laid out. The response was overwhelming. The polls that were taken indicated large amounts of support for a more liberal agenda in Obama’s second term. These series of poll snapshots (from Huffingtonpost.com), breaks down the numbers.
These polls may not be a set-in-stone declaration, but it does show that the American people are not as center-right as the Republicans wish to claim. Progressives have been pointing out this type of polling data for years showing America as actually more progressive than conservatives wish to believe.
What makes this inaugural address important is the overwhelming positive reaction from the American people. These polls show the validity of what progressives have been saying all along; the United States is not a center-right nation!
Now comes the hard part to swallow. Despite the fact that Obama’s address was mildly progressive, and the fact that poll after poll shows the American people are on his side on the issues, Obama and the Democrats will more than likely squander this political capital anyway. Obama may have emerged from his re-election a more tougher president, but his toughness has yet to translate into meaningful progressive change.
Obama has already compromised with Republicans twice since his re-election on both the so-called “fiscal cliff” talks and recent talks on the debt limit. Although Obama got minor extensions from Republicans in Congress, Republicans haven’t had to concede anything may never do so (unless their corporate backers want it as well).
Now that the fiscal cliff and debt ceiling has been extended/postponed for a few months, Republicans will hold far more leverage over negotiations when these subjects come up again. Harry Reid has also squandered attempts to reform the filibuster recently which would have given his party more leverage in the Senate.
Time and time again during his first term, Obama compromised with conservatives from both parties which concluded in the passing of half-assed progressive legislation (Obamacare anyone?). Despite the massive election victory and huge support from the American people, Obama and Democrats will continue to hold themselves back thanks to their irrational fear of looking “too-liberal”, as if it’s the mother of all American political sins.
So far his second term has started much like his first term ended. If you’re all looking for the liberal superman for a rescue, don’t hold your breath… Superman ain’t coming.