Liberal Apathy is What Gave Republicans Power in Congress

obama-sadIt goes without saying that I follow a lot of political news sites, Twitter accounts and Facebook pages.  It’s no secret Republicans strongly dislike President Obama, but it also seems there are quite a few liberals who want to dislike him as well.

Both political parties have these groups of people — I call them the “all or nothings.”   They’re those within a political movement that expect everything to be done exactly how they want and any kind of compromise is a “sell out on a promise.”

While the Republican party is comprised mostly of these people, luckily for Democrats they make up the minority.

But I started asking myself, “Why are so many liberals seemingly wanting to turn on the president?”

So to answer that, I turned to a couple of things I learned while getting my degree in political science.  Most every president in history is never more popular than on their first day in office.  Meaning that the supporters of every newly elected president have unrealistic expectations about what that president can do once they’re in the White House.

Another is basic ignorance by the newly elected president to what being president is really like.  It’s easy for someone to make bold promises when they’ve never done a job.  It’s quite another once you’re in that job, and you learn the inside information you never knew before, to get all of those things accomplished.

Especially when you consider how our government works.  A president has far less power than I think most voters feel they have.  People can make giant deals about “executive orders,” but most of them yield very little power.

But for President Obama, he came in during unique circumstances to any president before him.  Very few presidents in history were as disliked as George W. Bush, or as inept at their job.  The man had us neck deep in two wars, an economy that was crumbling beneath our feet, giant deficits, a collapsing American auto industry… just to name a few of the bigger problems.

So hope for President Obama was high.  Not only was he someone who said the things we wanted to hear, his election was historic.  He was our nations first black president (well, half black).  After 8 years of a man who couldn’t read a prepared speech without making himself look like a fool, we had a president who spoke brilliantly.  He speeches energized millions and brought hope to a country that felt hopeless.

The expectations for him were enormous—and ultimately unrealistic.  I told a friend a day after he was elected that too many people had too many unrealistic expectations for him.  That it was going to cause a backlash when he couldn’t wave a magic wand and make all of their dreams come true.

I saw the flaw in Obama’s strategy soon after that.  Going in, I think he felt he could be someone to unite the parties during a time of great polarization.  He wanted to cross the aisles and work with Republicans to build this country back up.  But I knew this was never going to work.

And it was a complete failure.  Republicans had but one goal once President Obama was elected — to sabotage his presidency.  They would never work with him because they didn’t want to build this country back up, they wanted to tear him down.  Then for the next 4 years, that’s exactly what they tried to do.

Then liberals began to turn on him.  He didn’t close Gitmo, continued NDAA, extended the Patriot Act, raised the threshold on the tax compromise up to $400k, didn’t get a single-payer for the health care bill, intensified his use of drones overseas, his recent budget included a Chained-CPI, signed the Farmers Assurance Provision aka “Monsanto Protection Act”, didn’t embrace same-sex marriage soon enough—just to name a few, though I could keep going.

Yet many of these same liberals ignore the millions of jobs we’ve created while he’s been in office, the saved American auto industry, credit card reform, student loan reform, Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, ending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, giving same-sex marriages federal benefits for the military, being the first president to openly endorse same-sex marriage, provided millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions health care coverage, allowed millions of students to remain on their parents health care plan longer, killing of Osama bin Ladin, ending of the Iraq War—again, just to name a few.  I could keep going on these as well.

And don’t let many on the left fool you, there are racists liberals as well.  I’ve met quite a few who voted for him because they “had to.”  I’ve heard many say they wished “someone white” had won.  They would just feel “more comfortable” with a white person in the White House.

But what many of these liberals essentially want is for President  Obama to act exactly like Republicans have accused him of being, which I always found ironic.  Many of them seem to want a totalitarian tyrant who will burn the Constitution to ashes if it accomplishes their goals.  They want him to use every loophole possible to yield his power and bypass Republican obstruction in Congress.

What they forget is that we gave Republicans the power that caused Obama to have to compromise so often.  If we had turned out in 2010, like we did in 2006 and 2008, Democrats would have gained power in the House of Representatives, gained a filibuster proof majority in the Senate and the president could have gotten more done.

Congress is where most of the power lies, and the 2010 election is where many of these liberals failed the president.  They had lost “enthusiasm” while conservatives found theirs.  They didn’t show up to vote in the numbers they had in 2008, and they let Republicans seize just enough power to stop the president from getting much of anything done.

So the reality is this—many of these liberals who were “disappointed” that Obama didn’t wave a magic wand between 2008-2010, making all of their dreams come true, are many of the same ones who didn’t get out and vote in 2010 to help Obama fulfill more of his promises.

As for me, I recognize President Obama is flawed.  But I also recognize he took over a situation which no other president in history has ever had to face.  A nearly treasonous Republican party who did everything they could to obstruct any progress he sought in hopes of winning an election.

And unfortunately they were given that power, not because of the power of conservative voters in 2010, but because of the apathy of the liberal ones.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


Facebook comments

  • So now 4 years hence, we got to get back on track and win this thing in 2014.

  • suburbancuurmudgeon

    Sitting out the 2010 election to “teach the Democrats a lesson” was cutting off the nose to spite the face. And really stupid.

    • Call it what you want. Democrats are little better than Republicans. There isn’t a true left in the US that is able to get the money that both parties are able to from big donors. If people actually looked, honestly, at the Obama policies so far, they would think he was just to the right of Jr.

      • greatuntitled

        Yes, Obama and current Democrat leaders are much more center than left. So does that mean we should not support them in elections? Did you read the above article, which shows the consequences of not having voted in more Democrats in 2010?

  • JStewart

    It’s not that simple, not when you have big money buying Republican votes and voters that do not look at actual facts. Also, gerrymandering is a big issue. You will also recall that when Obama first took office the big question was would the Democrats in office back him. I don’t think they did, and expecting that a Democratic majority get more done was not unreasonable.

  • dane

    what a bunch of claptrap!…typical “blame the victim”. If this analysis is the product of your political education, you should seriously consider going back for your masters. Oh, and pay more attention this time!

    • Susan Malone

      and who are the victims dane? everything he says is true. so your dumbarse rhetoric is part of the problem. I guess fox news got to you years ago. thanx but no thanx. u r the one out of touch with reality!

  • Some would claim that the rhetoric against Liberals is why the Dems lost in 2010. I mean, while Liberals were demanding to be heard, the Radical Center were demanding they shut up. As a matter of fact, it was Obama himself that told Liberals to “Shut Up” to “Quit Whining” and to “sit down”. The Democrats got what they asked for, to lose the election in 2010 because of their hatred for Liberals and Liberal Politics. Liberals have been told that they can’t win elections, and the Radical Center has effectively told that lie for so long that Liberals have all but given up on ever having a voice for them in the Dem Party. That’s why I predict a mass exit from the Dem Party by Liberals in general.

  • LOL! This essay is silly. Putting “killing of Osama bin Ladin,” in the good accomplishment list pretty much tells the story of why progressives don’t support a former Constitutional Law Professor shredding the Constitution as president with assassination as foreign policy. Let’s be clear, I’m not a liberal, so this article is not about me. I’m a radical progressive. So the Democratic Party isn’t selling anything that I want “as a Party” even though they do a few good bits as long as the social issue does not come into conflict with the Big Banks and Wall Street so that the Plutocracy will let the Democrats create some liberal window-dressing.
    Just don’t blame liberals. Republicans had one goal alright, so why then did/does Obama continue to compromise and genuflect to them. Obama’s soap box is so diluted that there is no there there to keep any liberal, much less any progressive, interested in Obama over the long haul. Only Centrists continue their love affair with Obama. It is Obama’s actions and positions, not so-called liberal apathy that is the problem. Obama’s actions and positions have deflated liberals sucking the air out of their lungs, so don’t call that “apathy” in your attempt to blame the victim.

    • greatuntitled

      True, I too would LOVE to have a more progressive party that can win elections, or have the Democrats embrace and practice a more progressive agenda. Such, however, is not the country we live in, unfortunately. As long as all of the big money goes to the Democrats or Republicans, effectively making them the only two political parties in America, and as long as big corporate money is allowed to be a factor in our elections and everyday politics, we have little choice but to vote for the party that will give us some table scraps instead of just crumbs.
      The reality is that the corporations and plutocrats that have purchased our political system are not going to stand for either party deviating too far from their own agenda (a.k.a. the rich get richer, and who cares about the poor and middle-class) but they do seem willing to allow one party to give out a little bit more and call them “radical leftists” for it.

    • Susan Malone

      look at congress and these guys that are in office. Why obama cant get anything done. they kick him constantly as the article above said. I have heard this rhetoric for the last 5 years about obama, that he gives in to this congress and cant get it done on his own. well i support him and know him as a good president. he has done so much for this country. when bush was in office all i did was wonder why? now i know that what my president is doing is what he has to do for this country. and i praise him and honor his judgement. i have had diabetes for 50 years and have been sick without insurance for most of those years. now i have a chance to get insurance and help because of my president. Now hopefully I wont die before i get to use it. God bless u my president.

      • Why would anyone look at Bush and wonder “why” but not wonder the same thing about Obama when Obama does the same thing? If Obama is doing a “great job” then Bush also did a “great job” because they are so much alike.

  • Kelly Cowan

    The reactions to this post are evidence enough to convince me of the validity of it’s assertions. I don’t call them “all or nothings” liberals, I call them the “I am the center of the universe, the President must do as I say” Liberals. I am a dreamer, and I voice my opinions, but I live in reality and understand that I have far less information with which I arrive at my opinions than does the President. This egocentric behavior is destructive as it demand instant gratification, and completely ignores the sometimes necessary incremental pragmatism that comes with reality. If half of these people would run for office, even on a county level, we might get somewhere, but alas they are more than likely just going to sit in front of a monitor and complain that things are not exactly how they want them, while causing others to become jaded, disaffected and apathetic.

  • Kelly Cowan

    Keep in mind that a percentage of this kind of “disaffected” set on the web are actually paid GOP operatives fronting as angry Democrats to cause dissension and discord on the left. They have a vested interest in keeping voters away from the polls, and this is another tool they use as they continue to seek to benefit from low voter turnout.

    • greatuntitled

      If your words are true Kelly it comes as no surprise to me. It’s COINTELPRO all over again.