Some of Obama's more conservative views pose a philosophical crisis for progressives

Barack ObamaIt’s hard to talk about politics because everything is so very personal and biased. Take this question as an example: What did you expect when Barack Obama won the 2008 Presidential Election?

If you’re from the colorful minority of the conservative wing, your answer might include something about communism, fascism, terrorism, red-pinkoism, muslimism, or takeourgunism.

From the political left, you’d hear a lot of hope, change, or “Yes We Can”. But did we the political left really believe those slogans? I’m as jaded as they come concerning politics, but I remember the night Obama won the vote. I felt high, light, and giddy. It felt like a seminal historical moment.

Now, it’s been well over four years later, and opinions on the progressive side of things have divided. Some people still love Obama and defend him. They blame any faults in policy on obstruction by the GOP. Others have become more skeptical of Obama, but raise the point that Barack Obama is still far more favorable than having a Republican in the White House.

Yet, slowly more and more of us feel a really deep discontent. There’s a feeling, growing in the pit of thousands of our stomachs; the feeling that something sacred has turned filthy. There’s a growing shame in Obama and the Democratic Party. The simple answers above – that it’s the GOP’s fault and Obama is the best choice – aren’t mitigating that shame anymore.

Obama’s health care plan, which should have been his mark on history, still seems convoluted and impotent to me, a Canadian. Obama’s biggest political opportunity, which should have been the 2008 financial crisis, became a lost story as Obama didn’t seem to do anything significant to regulate and/or punish Wall Street or change the culture of capitalist leadership.

And, of course, the most recent reality that has turned off many former supporters of Obama is the Syria debacle. Obama’s use of drones and the recent Libya aggression all slowly accumulated in the public’s mind. Add the NSA scandals, and the faith of Obama’s base was finally shaken.

Many Democrats still seem much more comfortable with wiretapping under Barack Obama than under Bush, which is madness; but fortunately, more liberal-minded folk are starting to cast doubt on Obama and the mainstream political system in general. The question is, what are we going to do now?

As progressives, we can’t switch to the GOP. That’s a non-starter. We also can’t really throw too much support behind a third-party without risk of splitting the vote. Canada’s political woes are due largely to progressive vote-splitting.

Dennis Kucinich
Dennis Kucinich

Democrats also can’t support progressive candidates in their own party like Dennis Kucinich. Those types of candidates would never win a primary or take the moderate votes from the Republicans. Who else is there? Hilary Clinton? If she’s like her husband she’d be less progressive than Obama. No, it’s just going to be more of the same or worse.

There really doesn’t seem to be a solution. That’s the bleak reality we’re facing. The failure of Obama will become the lasting philosophical crisis of our political generation. How can we trust any leader to truly represent the interests of the people over big business and lobbyists? Obama was this generation’s great hope!

This loss of faith in “Hope” and “Change” in the White House, America, and the world comes at a terrible time. The national debate is unwisely shaping around public vs. private, forcing us to answer the question: who do you trust more, private corporations or the government?

Liberals justly cry foul against big business and scold conservatives for obstructing regulations. But how can we do justify our case for responsible regulation and empowered government when our progressive champion Obama spies on us, jails our whistleblowers, gives financial criminals a free pass, continues to use force overseas and fails to enact any truly inspiring reforms?

So the question remains, what are we going to do now?

I'm both a bleeding-heart liberal and a sober moderate who is uncomfortably trapped between two worlds: made fun of by my close friends for being a pinko hippy while simultaneously annoying my social media peers by not being progressive enough of a liberal.I volunteered for Victor Elkins, the NDP candidate for Vancouver Quadra, in the last federal election, but have also voted for both the Green Party and Liberals in previous federal elections, and both the PCs and Liberals in the Newfoundland & Labrador provincial elections. I don't think politics should be a religion, but I find democratic socialism to be the wisest.Finally, I'm an atheist and an ethical omnivore. Food politics is currently my favorite passion project. I also write about beer.


  1. Obama has drained me greatly, but has not killed all my hopes & dreams. He has proved such a sell out of the promise. I do place a lot of blame on the GOP & their full fledged rule of stagnation, but do feel he could have made a stronger stand against them.

  2. The President, whoever it is, represents ALL the people…not just the party he comes from. That is the duty of the Presidential office and many of the problems were here long before President Obama was elected. Three more years are left so the jury is out but what we went through with George W. Bush was so horrific the suicide rate in the U.S. speaks for itself…people are certainly hopeless.

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