White House

Stop Attacking President Obama For Not Being A Progressive “Purist”

Last updated on September 25th, 2023 at 01:53 pm

A few years ago Republicans being pushed hard by the burgeoning extremist right-wing of the party began touting their “conservative purity” to attack other Republicans. At the time one wondered who was the authority on what “conservative purity” entailed and why Republicans were attacking each other over ano Republican in recent history could have ever lived up to. Now it is 2016 and it appears that no matter how divisive it was for Republicans to demand “conservative purity” of their politicians, a neophyte Democrat has embraced the tactic and, using his “progressive purity” test, is criticizing other Democrats for not meeting the left’s version of purity.

For some Democrats it is bad enough this kind of tactic is playing out on the left, but it is being extended to attack a sitting Democratic President for not being a pure progressive and abandoningthe base” that put him in office. It is a reiteration of the attacks that prompted the 2009 EmoProg movement to outrage against President Obama and contributed greatly to the Republican takeover of the House and several state legislatures in 2010. What is seriously curious is why anyone in their right mind believes for a second that Barack Obama ever ran as a progressive, or failed to deliver on non-existent promises the angry “progressive purists” punished the nation for in 2010 by sitting out the election.

It is getting difficult to understand exactly where Bernie Sanders stands politically; socialist, progressive, democratic socialist, or Democrat because anyone not embracing his agenda is not what he says they claim to be. He predictably raises Hell about income equality as if that will frighten Republicans into raising the minimum wages or raise taxes on the rich, but of course President Obama has raised Hell for seven straight years over the same issues to exactly the same Republican response and it makes him not progressive enough and abandoned the base that elected him.

It does not matter if one claims to be a socialist, a “pure” progressive, a democratic socialist, or Democrat, America’s political system is not the purview of any one faction any more than any one Party; this is something the EmoProg faction fails to comprehend. Now, either to pander to the Emos or continue attacking President Obama as a surrogate for Hillary Rodham Clinton, Senator Sanders is once again assailing the President for “letting down the Progressive movement.”

This is an old assertion from Senator Sanders and although he credits President Obama for helping the economy, there is little else except repeating the claim that the President abandoned the people who elected him. A claim he took to the next level during 2011 when said it was a good idea to launch a primary challenge against a successful sitting Democratic President for abandoning the people who put him in office. A claim that Bernie shares with harsh Obama critic and Sander’s BFF and ally Cornell West. Cornell West also screams to anyone who will listen that the “n*ggerized” President Obama “posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit; a Wall Street president.” It is eerily like Sanders’ supporters currently claiming that anyone not feelingthebern is a paid Wall Street shill, a counterfeit liberal, and corrupt.

What Messrs. Sanders and West refuse to acknowledge is that Barack Obama never ran as anything other than a liberal Democrat; something most would cite as a left-leaning Democrat because anything else would not have got him elected twice by a “right-leaning” population. For the record, according to the latest polls only 16 percent of Democrats claim to be progressive out of 24 percent of the population claiming to be liberal, and 40 percent are purely conservative. The remainder consider themselves “centrists.”  John McCain or Mitt Romney would be president if Barack Obama had run as a “pure progressive” simply because America’s population is, like it or not, predominately conservative; not liberal, not socialist, and certainly not progressive.

It is hard to understand why Senator Sanders continues resurrecting his criticism of the President when Barack Obama is not running for the presidency or the Democratic nomination because he already won, twice. Many Americans and more than a few Democrats actually think that despite the fierce, non-stop obstruction by congressional Republicans and a few conservative Democrats, President Obama has done a miraculous job of getting a Hell of a lot accomplished. It is something Senator Sanders, more than anyone, should know a lot about just how difficult it is to get anything through Congress with a unified Republican bloc obstructing any and every thing a Democrat proposes; it is even harder for a socialist or progressive. In fact, during his “quarter-century in Congress Senator Sanders was chief sponsor of just 3 bills that were eventually signed into law; two renaming Post Offices in Vermont and one increasing a cost of living raise for Veterans as Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee chairman in 2013.”

America is a very politically diverse demographic and despite the population leaning conservative, President Obama won twice and has been effective working for all Americans by being a left-leaning centrist. It is troublesome, even for a progressive secular humanist, to see Democrats resort to a Republican ploy of measuring other Democrats according to their “progressive purity.” As an aside, here is about how much so-called progressives actually know about progressivism. Two years ago when President Obama proposed a budget with precise numbers and recommendations from a real Progressive organization, the Center for American Progress, liberals were ballistic and accused the President of embracing the conservative agenda and throwing Americans under the bus when the budget was a Democratic wish list.

One expects members of the same party to attack each other; even Democrats. However, to bring stale attacks against a sitting President of a Party one just joined and continuing to assail him for not being something he never claimed to be is frankly petty and unbecoming of any Democrat. This is particularly true when the President has successfully brought the nation from the brink of financial ruin and accomplished a world of feats that even a socialist-turned-progressive-turned Democrat should acknowledge was miraculous under the circumstances and not “abandoning the people who elected him.” One certainly hopes that any Democrat remembers it was not just progressives or liberals who elected Barack Obama as President twice and it is why the President works for all Americans; a task that always leaves some childish group focused solely on themselves greatly aggrieved.


Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion. Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn't look good. Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.

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