I have my own dreams of a perfect world.
I share your frustration with the political process, and I suspect it could be argued much more personally than some who enjoy the privilege of not being a minority class – after all, as a woman, I’ve seen my personal freedoms immediately decreased under the Tea Party House. And in states around the country, every day they come for another freedom — they have women being arrested for suspected abortions when they miscarry. It’s terrifying.
My perfect world is built on consensus building for the people, with no privileged classes while others starve. There’s no homelessness in my perfect world and no children dying from lack of medical care. There’s no racism or sexism in my perfect world and women are safe from rape and death at the hands of their loved ones. There is no war in my perfect world. But of course, my perfect world has nothing to do with political realities. Still, if it did…..
I’d love to see the President ride into Wisconsin and tell Walker off for his illegal passage of union busting laws, tell Snyder to piss off with his unemployment theft, and give Scott’s medical business a reality check about transparency.
I’d like to ask ‘why?’ and get an answer. I’d like to clean out the DoJ of Bush’s illegally appointed fundies in one fell swoop. I’d like to replace Blue Dogs and Corporate Dems with people who cared about the people first. I’d like liberal Democrats to stop aiding and abetting a misogynistic agenda against women. I’d like to put McCain Levin and the entire SASC on trial for pushing us toward failed Bush era policies that we clearly rejected. I’d like to close Gitmo immediately. I’d like the poor and the unemployed to be protected. I’d like civil rights for all of us, including gay marriage, equal pay for women, and voting protection for minorities.
I’d like to see Citizens United overturned, Fox News denied the right to call itself news, and Tea Party House members impeached in disgrace.
But those people were elected. They are the lawmakers now. These are the consequences of electing them. If I were to tell you that we could still have what we wanted, I would be lying to you. We can’t have what we wanted, and while checks and balances are a good thing, obstructionism and default are not. We voted for Obama’s civilian trials but the congress keeps giving us McCain’s military trials. Why is that? Because they can and because we do nothing to stop them.
If I were to tell you that Obama could do something about this if he wanted to, I would be telling you what you want to hear and you might like me a lot more, but it wouldn’t be the truth. Do you think that’s not compelling? It would be so much easier than going through the myriad of political bs.
However, I like to believe that our core readers come here because they trust us and they wouldn’t appreciate being lied to about the political process just so we could be cooler and have more friends. You might not like what we say here, but you can always trust that the motley crew at PoliticusUSA have creative freedom unfettered by corporate or other affiliations or financial obligations. No one, including the editorial team, is telling them what they can and can not write.
Many a people have tried to twist our editorial necks to fall in line with the liberal lockstep on certain issues, but that just made us dig our heels in more. We don’t like bullies on any side. The point is, it’s not truly liberal if there are issues we are not allowed to explore and voices we try to silence, is it? And by silence, I do not mean fact-checking or even name-calling; I mean editorial silencing. What are these liberals so afraid of?
To wit, see the fact-checking of liberal heroes. It’s sadly ironic, but the left has no problem criticizing elected officials but too many of us will not tolerate even perceived criticism of our favorite media heroes and worst yet, they will not tolerate it. This is a problem, for it demonstrates that we operate in a state of worship rather than critical thinking. After all, we can like someone and respect them and still disagree with them. If we can’t, we have larger problems at hand.
As an example of two liberal stars who can tolerate dissent, I confess that nothing pleases me more than a dose of Keith Olbmerann’s Worst Persons and I was cheering Michael Moore on at the Oscar’s that infamous night as Hollywood co-workers tittered about his lack of patriotism. I have always been grateful for their voices but I also have disagreed with them on occasion and I like to think that these two thoughts can co-exist. I was deeply disappointed by Keith Olbermann and Michael Moore during the “not real rape” fiasco, but both men showed an eventual willingness to hear and learn, and really, that is the all important indication of character, integrity and courage.
Never did they attempt to literally shut down dissent via their financial or star power. They ignored, argued, and then finally listened and acknowledged. This is the sign of a liberal. They won’t always be right (no one can be), but they will be willing to debate and grow. It was ugly and messy, but we came out of it with a better understanding of a tough subject.
To this end, it seems to shock some people that I have friends from all over the spectrum of liberalism – many of whom disagree vehemently on some issues – but we hold lively and respectful discussions. One of my closest writing colleagues is completely anti-Obama, whereas I am not. Yet we do not feel a need to silence one another; we share many of the same values — we just see the way to implement them differently. I deeply respect the value of his thought process and the importance of different voices and perspectives. The political world without his voice would be sorely lacking.
I have countless liberal writing friends and bloggers in this category, whose friendship and support is a big part of my being here. Stop by my Facebook page sometime and you’ll see what I mean. We have epic debates and fights, but we are all still here. They don’t threatens to block, unfriend or run away. They stay and fight, just like you have to in any relationship. And to some degree, we are all in a political relationship together, like it or not.
Where would we be if we refused to hear others? Silencing those with whom you disagree and demanding lockstep are not liberal values.
Speaking of liberal values, my biggest concern during Bush years was his expansion of executive office powers and abuse/politicization of the DoJ. I can hardly suggest that when our side does it it would be okay because it’s for the RIGHT cause, nor would I even feel that way. After all, how could we trust a president who decided that he alone knew what should be passed as law? Absolute power…
As for this congress’ end runs around closing Gitmo, their never-ending obstructionism and push for Bush era fight on terror homeland security measures, all I can do is hope the people who elect these folks speak up and hope that the public wakes up, because until we start holding them accountable for their actions, nothing will change.
That said, on the jobs front, the President has precedent and cause to go around the Republicans as they have made it clear that they are not going to help this economy or the people. He must do it for the country.
But the President’s powers are limited and they should be limited. Those who argue for a unitary executive today are conveniently forgetting the cost of such. There are few frustrations that are not worth bearing out in the face of the alternative; an executive office run like a dictatorship.
It’s the equivalent in my mind of giving up our “freedoms” in order to stay safe. There is no justification for a unitary executive, for if there is, then the ends justify the means and that is the same as saying it’s OK when my side does it because we are right.
Everyone always thinks they are right. But are they? It’s so easy to have an opinion but so costly to act on an uninformed or misinformed opinion (WMD); hence, the ideal of a legislative process of consensus building and debate, which relates on the micro level to liberals debating among themselves without the need to silence intelligent and respectful dissent.
Would we really want unfettered power to enact a liberal agenda? I wouldn’t. I fully accept that my dream world will never be. That doesn’t mean I’ll stop dreaming, but that I will also operate in the realm of political reality. The process is supposed to protect us from ourselves as much as protect the country from dogmatic extremists (my dream world might be your nightmare). The real problem is that we have elected people who want no part in consensus building and do not compromise.
It would be so easy for me to tell you that all of your dreams could come true if only Obama weren’t in the White House, but of course, that’s not true. Even Bush had trouble with his own party in congress during his second term. There is no president who can make congress do what he or she wishes. It’s not supposed to work that way and it doesn’t work that way.
You know what you have to do if you want real change. You need a congress who responds to the people as well as a president whose first loyalty is to the constitution and second to the people. You need Citizens United overturned and you need a House full of folks who actually represent the people instead of corporations. The only way we get those things is if we are willing to work and fight for them. A lazy citizenry gets a congress full of ignorant, corporate shills; perhaps we deserve them. We were asleep for too long.
It’s not easy, but then the truth hardly ever is. And neither are our political relationships, but we must stay in them, fighting and listening, if we are to have anything of value.
Happy New Years day to all of our readers, colleagues and friends, no matter whom or what they support. The important thing is to be actively engaged in the process and be willing to have the hard discussions with some measure of respect for our differences, and that is my real dream of a perfect world. To that end, let us hope that 2012 is the year of the People.
Image: First Circle Zazzle
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.