A piss-covered post-mortem
I still like Obama as a person. He seems like a good man crushed under the weight of so many competing, often contradictory forces. There’s much he’s done that I like and am proud of. In no universe do I think I would be any better as president. I’m certain I’d be terrible.
Speaking of terrible, Donald Trump is a piss lover (easily the least offensive aspect of his personality) who stokes racism, fear, misogyny and homophobia, holds lasting grudges, and will undoubtedly tweet us into at least a minor skirmish, if not a complete world war. He will be the worst president in American history, without question.
But until all that happens, here’s what I think got us here, and why recognizing it matters if we want to move forward:
I’ve spent my entire life watching democrats hedge further right in response to the GOP’s ongoing radicalization. I didn’t understand it at the time, but looking back on Bill Clinton’s crime and welfare bills and his “tough on crime” attitude, I can now see how it influenced the policies of people like Rahm Emanuel and Michael Bloomberg, giving us Broken Windows and the Chicago black sites. Clinton’s mandatory minimum policies ruined countless lives of those most vulnerable. I remember my teen years in the run-up to the Iraq war, when Democrats raced to sign on so as not to appear weak in the wake of 9/11. As a result, thousands of young Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens are dead. Recalling the aftermath of the recession as I left college, when the Dems had the biggest super-majority in decades and still capitulated to the demands of the very people who created the crisis in the first place. Now the stock market is back up, the banks are flush, and rural America, already struggling before the recession, never recovered. That anger, fear, and hopelessness helped give us Trump. Oh, and the current opioid crisis that’s destroyed entire towns, brought on by the (bipartisan-supported) pharmaceutical industry and our War on Drugs.
It goes on: In order to pre-empt GOP criticism and appear “fair,” the dems never made the case for single-payer healthcare despite having the most oratorically gifted president since Reagan. Now we’ve got the hopelessly compromised and partially broken ACA (for at least another couple of weeks.) They quit on Guantanamo without a fight. Expanded extra-judicial drone killings of American citizens overseas. Oversaw a vast expansion of NSA surveillance on citizens (that Trump will soon have access to.) Continued an alliance with a brutal Saudi Arabian regime that is currently ripping Yemen to shreds. They exported more immigrants than any other administration.
It’s not possible for one president to fix everything, but my issue is with the entire liberal centrist machine that brought about our country’s death by a thousand cuts. As the opposition, they capitulated. As the majority, they compromised. The GOP would never dream of such blatant weakness. If nothing else, they understand power and how to wield it. And now we’re about to see just how ruthlessly and efficiently they’ll bring the progress we’ve made tumbling down.
In spite of all the Democratic party’s uselessness, we’ve moved socially left as a country in nearly every way. We came close to nominating a Jewish Vermont socialist senator from Brooklyn for president! Instead, the DNC slid to the right and pushed to nominate a centrist who’d already lost once before to an unknown black man with a Muslim-sounding name, because she was the “safe bet.” Would Bernie have won? Maybe. Maybe not. But we do know that Hillary lost. And now they’ve lost it all. The presidency, the senate, the house, the majority of governorships and state houses across the country. Soon the Supreme Court, not to mention countless lower court appointments.
Moving right only works for the right. Democrats have been compromising since Clinton and it led us here. Maybe it’s time to try a new approach.
So on the twilight of Obama and the eve of Trump: Stop being the adult in the room. The adults are all dead. We’re living in the Lord of the Flies now.