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.


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