DADT ruling gives Obama an opportunity to lead

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Now that a federal judge has ruled the U.S. military's “don't ask don't tell” policy unconstitutional, President Barack Obama and the Democrats have an opportunity to demonstrate their stated commitment to equal rights for gays and lesbians – and, more generally, their willingness to boldly lead the country. And all they have to do is...nothing.

Actually, if Obama really wants to show some courage on the issue, he would announce that he's doing nothing – that is, choosing not to appeal the ruling and to simply let it stand – now, before the mid-term elections next month. Sure, that might involve some political risk in conservative districts, but it would also demonstrate to voters on the left that this administration is actually willing to take a stand on an issue that is important to progressives and other believers in social justice.

Part of the problem that Democrats are facing in this election is that the Republican base, all those crazy teabaggers and ill-informed believers that Obama is a dangerous socialist, are fired up, but those in the Democratic Party base – workers, liberals, anti-war activists, and representatives of marginalized communities – don't have much to cling to these days.

They've watched Obama escalate the so-called “war on terror,” do little to challenge Wall Street's casino capitalism, prop up health insurance companies and call it “reform,” and let conservatives set the agenda while the Democrats dither on issues ranging from raising taxes on the rich to rebuilding the country's infrastructure and social safety net.

Obama opposes same-sex marriage, and when the Democrat's made a showy legislative move last month to end DADT, they quickly caved in the face of a Republican filibuster, making the whole gesture seem like a meaningless election year gimmick rather than an honest effort to end a policy that has always been unconstitutional, as this judge has now ruled.

So now, it's gut check time. Obama needs to show what kind of president he wants to be. Will he do the right thing and finally provide the bold progressive leadership this country needs right now, or will he follow Bill Clinton's lead and cave in to his conservative critics, maintaining his popularity and winning a second term by triangulating between the left and right, but leaving the country dangerously adrift in treacherous waters.

Comments

Don't have much to cling to?

How can you cling when you're getting kneed in the groin?'

When the Democrats cut a deal with Pharma and the health insurers so keep drug prices the highest in the world and to compel individuals to purchase health insurance under threat of tax penalty, that is raising taxes on the middle class unless they're insured, they committed political suicide.

Obama is not stupid. He had no intention of advancing a progressive agenda. The Democrats have no intention of advancing a progressive agenda. If they did, then they would have nothing with which to tempt us to vote for their corporate candidates.

On the left and the right, red meat for the base is to be dribbled out in tiny portions, all the more to keep everyone hooked the longer.

Only the delusional will support the Democrats who laid the groundwork for the tea baggers by catering to Wall Street instead of Main Street. On an astonishing range of issues, the tea baggers are closer to correct than the Democrat apologists. But that affinity for right wing libertarian capitalism cannot be tolerated.

When the Democrats get creamed next month, it will not be because they were on the losing end of the enthusiasm gap, rather because they took concrete steps with their governing coalition that kneed their electoral coalition in the groin. And with divided government, we'll get continued stalemate and the banksters will remain in control.

-marc

Posted by marcos on Oct. 12, 2010 @ 4:30 pm

>>>Obama needs to show what kind of president he wants to be.<<<..........He already has from the night he was elected and then selected Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff. He's more than shown what kind of president he wants to be. Do I need to provide a long list of what he has done that was the same as Bush? It's the same kind we had before except the Obama Team is a little more covert about it but the end result is the same. The corporations give the orders these days.

Posted by Guest Bárbara Chelsai on Oct. 12, 2010 @ 5:13 pm