Good Leaders require a Relentlessly Demanding Public
The 2021 political year is starting with the Democrats in control of the executive and legislative branches of the federal government. With Biden in the White House, Democrats leading by a comfortable margin in the House of Representatives, and a slim one in the Senate, the Democrats are in a position to pass progressive legislation and improve the country like never before.
Except for Obama’s first term in 2009. Remember that? When the Democrats blew out the Republicans and took a strong majority in the House and Senate? Quite a lot more than now. Remember what a hopeful moment that was, and how likely it looked that we’d actually have a government working for the people, an administration that would pass the progressive legislation we needed to shape our country for the better?
Remember how that opportunity was pissed away?
We can’t let that happen again. Make no mistake that if we let it, it will.
The Obama-led Democratic party of 2009 betrayed the people of its progressive base. He and members of Congress wasted time and energy debating with and capitulating to Republicans in an impotent and counterproductive attempt to find common ground and unity. That was a catastrophic failure. It was also evidence that Obama’s posture as a progressive, who would bring real change to the government and the nation was just that, a posture, a lie, and that he and many members of the Democratic majority in Congress were just as beholden and subservient to the will of capital, our country’s plutocratic class, as previous administrations. Not to mention a deference to the military industrial complex, the intelligence state, and law enforcement, all regressive and malicious entities.
By rights, the Obama administration and the Democrat dominated Congress should have, and absolutely could have, delivered truly historic progressive reforms and fresh policies. We could have had universal healthcare and an improved public health system, an expanded social safety net, improved public education, improved infrastructure, improved accountability and the championing of human and civil rights, complete economic changes to remedy the climate crisis of the time and preempt the worsened conditions of it that we’re now facing. So much could have been done. But time was wasted. Regressives were placated and kowtowed to. In 2010, the powerful majority was lost, and the ability to rather easily enact progressive policy went with it. In the end the best we got were half-measures and straight-up betrayals.
An insufficient “market-based” healthcare system.
Further privatization of public resources.
A lackluster and inadequate non-binding climate policy.
Huge bailouts for the obscenely wealthy robber-baron class.
Expanded military intervention and an increase in extrajudicial assassinations.
Increased prosecution and persecution of whistleblowers and journalists exposing illegality and wrongdoing in the public’s interest.
The Biden administration has less of a majority to work with, and less of a pretense towards progressivism. He has long expressed a disposition towards the idiot delusion of bipartisanship. As if the Republicans can actually be worked with, as if they ever compromise everything. We cannot afford a repeat of the failures of the Obama administration. The Biden administration has promised less, but can potentially give us more, if we make it. Biden and the other Democrats must be forced to meet the needs of the people, and be held to account in a way we have not done with past Democratic administrations. Rather than bask in the afterglow of Trump being gone, and falling into complacency, accepting Biden for the pathetic center-right conservative that he is, we need to force him to be the president the people need and deserve.
Abraham Lincoln was not an abolitionist. Franklin Roosevelt was not a natural advocate of the labor movement. Lyndon Johnson was not an anti-racist. Yet each of those very flawed presidents took action and passed necessary progressive legislation. Not because of conviction or a change in their beliefs, but because they had to. Faced with inexorable pressures, including from the public, they were forced to do more than they wanted or was expected of them, because they were allowed no alternative. Biden and his people must spend the entirety of their administration being pressured by the public to do what must be done, regardless of whether he wants to. Left to his own devices, he’ll never be the president anyone wanted, or the one we all need, unless we never relent, never stop demanding, and make him.