Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Sulllivan’

President Obama and his liberal critics

January 23, 2012

American Extremists - Disposable issues

via American Extremists.

Andrew Sullivan wrote a much discussed article for Newsweek defending President Obama from criticism by the “unhinged” right and the “purist” left.   He said the conservative critics who claim he is some sort of radical socialist are out of touch with reality, while liberal critics ask too much.  President Obama has accomplished as much as can reasonably be expected, Sullivan said; his critics from the left are like little children complaining because Santa Claus didn’t give them everything on their Christmas lists.  But for me, more fundamental things are at stake.

President Obama threatens the Constitution and the principle of the rule of law by asserting the authority to sign death warrants, to imprison people without trial or without charging them with a crime, to spy on American citizens without warrants and to make it a crime to reveal the government’s abuse of power, as well as committing acts of war on his own authority.  He has committed the nation to endless wars that can only result in endless suffering and endless enemies.  He has propped up a corrupt financial oligarchy rather than to try to reform it.

To my mind, none of these issues ought to divide liberals and conservatives.  Both should defend basic constitutional rights.  At different times in American history, both have opposed foreign interventions.  Principled liberals and principled conservatives should both oppose use of government funds to protect big Wall Street firms from the consequences to their constituencies.

But in fact, the majority of self-identified liberals and the majority of self-identified conservatives are anti-Constitution, anti-peace and pro-Wall Street.  That is why I have a good word for anybody, liberal, conservative or libertarian, to takes a stand against the country’s slide into authoritarianism, militarism and kleptocracy.

These are not questions of whether President Obama has been fair to various constituencies.  They are questions of the continuation of the United States as a free, democratic, sovereign and prosperous nation.  If my fears are wrong, show me how and why they are wrong.  If my fears are not wrong, it is a mistake to pin any hopes on Obama.

True, President Obama is on roughly the same path as his predecessor, main rivals and likely successors.  Since everybody in authority is doing the same bad thing, the problem is systemic and it is futile to blame it on a single individual.  What makes Obama worse than Dick Cheney or Newt Gingrich is that he appealed to the hope and idealism of young people that constructive change could be accomplished through the political process.  That hope has been dashed, and it will be a long time before it is recreated.

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