The Party’s Over
WASHINGTON – There’s a reason Obama reelect doesn’t have a slogan.
All they’ve got is a question: Are you in?
Symbolic of this problem is what happened to Elizabeth Warren when her rise was met by Tim Geithner’s foot, and why Ron Suskind’s book Confidence Men made the Administration queasy. It’s seen in Wall Street firms earning more in Pres. Obama’s first years than in both terms of George W. Bush.
Then there’s Obama’s foreign policy, the issue that weighs most for me, which picked up where Bush left off. Pres. Obama and his “serious reservations” didn’t keep him from signing the NDAA, something any conservative Republican president would sign. Indefinite military detention without trial is now the policy of the Obama administration, which is something Mitt Romney would also do. There is no habeas corpus at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. What is called “targeted killing” has actually increased under Pres. Obama, something Glenn Greenwald writes about regularly. As for “secret prisons,” it’s not quite as a bad as Bush, because now people are held for a “short-term, transitory” basis. But Pres. Obama’s surveillance program is identical to his predecessor. Candidate Obama was against the Iraq war, but he had no trouble bombing Libya without congressional oversight or approval, even though it was not of strategic interest to the U.S. or a clear and present danger. We’ve supposedly gotten out of Iraq, but there is a 104 acre embassy, the biggest on planet earth, with support and logistics to match.
It’s also why Pres. Obama showing up in Osawatamie, Kansas to use the Occupy message didn’t fool smarter folks, because if his leadership matched the words he spoke Robert Reich wouldn’t be floating hail Mary posts about switching Biden with Hillary.
What happened with Plan B, however, reveals something else.
As a recovering partisan these days and after watching Pres. Obama’s compromising conservatism, I no longer feel the urgency to support a political party who has threatened dire consequences if I don’t vote for them. Beyond foreign policy, economic, and civil rights issues mentioned above, Pres. Obama has also chosen to short-change women again and again on our freedoms, starting in the health care bill, then by executive order that empowered conservatives of both parties, and finally by making the decision on Plan B that would have come from Mitt Romney, too.
Pres. Obama has helped Democrats deliver a climate that this party has threatened since the ’70s would happen if I didn’t vote for them.
Watching Gloria Steinem and being imprinted politically during this era, while arguing with my boyfriend’s mother about feminism and the E.R.A., with my brother a co-sponsor in the Missouri State Senate, I remember how equal rights and freedoms became important to me. Because of when I grew up and the family I grew up in, politics was part of the destiny I chose, even as I mined my artistry.
For over 30 years, modern feminists like myself have been hearing that we must support Democrats, because if we don’t our freedoms will be on the line yet again. After supporting Democrats since my one vote for Ronald Reagan in 1980, what has finally happened through Pres. Obama is exactly what I was told this political party would guard against. So now, as the 2012 elections approach, Barack Obama and the Democratic Party are once again relying on the theory that because Republicans are worse women like me can be suckered into falling in line one more time.
The latest political move against women of all ages came recently when Pres. Obama decided to put politics over science on Plan B, even though it was conclusively proven safe for women, regardless of age. He said he was squeamish about it as a father. What made it worse is that he hid behind Kathleen Sebelius’s skirt, also saying he had nothing to do with the decision.
This kind of cowardice in a grown man is unattractive; in a president it is unacceptable.
The right applauded, which is as predictable as Pres. Obama positing that it was Sebelius’s decision not his. As usual, our President was simply present.
Leader Pelosi gave Pres. Obama a pass, which considering she sold women out on health care, isn’t surprising.
Rep. Diana DeGette, who’s a member of the laughingly called “Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus,” had this to say:
Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), a member of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus who pushed hard for Plan B to be made available over the counter to women of all ages, said that while she was “disappointed” in Sebelius’ decision, she believed it came from a place of genuine concern for young girls and is still “a work in progress.”
Any Democrat believing there a “progressive pro-choice caucus” still exists is deluding him- or herself. Ms. DeGette and the entire Democratic congressional pack have disgraced themselves, Mrs. Pelosi proving yet again she is not fit to be called “Leader.”
After all, it’s not like Plan B is an abortificient like RU486. All Plan B does is stop pregnancy or implantation. A non-scientific description, this basically means ingesting a pill that makes a female’s uterus inhospitable for fertilization or implantation. A chemical change in the female’s body so a pregnancy cannot begin. It’s not an abortion.
Plan B works like other birth control pills to prevent pregnancy. Plan B acts primarily by stopping the release of an egg from the ovary (ovulation). It may prevent the union of sperm and egg (fertilization). If fertilization does occur, Plan B may prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the womb (implantation). If a fertilized egg is implanted prior to taking Plan B, Plan B will not work. – FDA
In the era of Obama, when it comes to women’s reproductive health, ignoring science for politics is where we’ve ended up time and time again.
What’s ironic to me is that supporting women’s individual freedoms is really a conservative idea. Conservatives trumpet “don’t tread on me,” freedom, and keeping government out of their lives, so if consistency existed this should also apply to a woman’s rights as an individual. The notion that the government should be able to tell any person what he or she can do with their own body is an anti-conservatism and anti-libertarian notion.
Conservatives who choose to use religion in their politics can certainly choose to be against women’s individual rights, coming down on the side that freedom is just for men. However, they don’t simultaneously get to call themselves a “social conservative,” because a true conservative would rail against abortion rights, but simultaneously have to admit that it isn’t anyone’s right to tell a woman what she can and can’t do with her own body, within limits already set by the Supreme Court.
On the other side, the liberal take on women’s individual privacy is easy to make, especially since we’ve won the right in the courts, so it can be argued as a civil rights issue, which is backed up in the Bill of Rights and confirmed by the Supreme Court through Griswold.
Religion making its way into this argument and the act of governing, compliments of Ronald Reagan and the lie of the “Moral Majority,” is the worst thing that’s happened to our democratic republic in our history. I could ask what’s “moral” about taking rights away from females, but these same people trumpet war, too.
It’s now even considered an extreme position to think women’s individual freedoms are important. On Obama’s conservative Plan B decision, you get replies like “it’s smart politically” or his fans argue from the right using parental rights over individual female freedoms.
Then there’s the reality that most women have more dire issues on their mind, because reproductive health choices are considered by most to be a given. For sexually active young females, poor women and those in rural areas, however, these issues are attached to one another. However, their stories don’t equal the same coverage as the majority of reports about women today.
Women often share the breadwinner role, so their focus is on who is protecting their bottom line.
Recently on MSNBC when they asked voters in Iowa about their choices, a woman said, “I need to take care of my paycheck, that’s why I’m supporting Romney.”
Why should women automatically bet that Pres. Obama will help their bottom line more than Mitt Romney?
Is it enough that the 111th Congress passed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which Pres. Obama signed? Women of all political persuasions need to expect all 21st century politicians to support economic equality. We should also demand that when it’s found out we aren’t being treated equally we have recourse, which is what Ledbetter is all about. Would any other Democratic president not have signed the Ledbetter Act? To laud something so simple as financial equality for the same job done reveals women are expecting way too little from politicians that depend on our support to politically survive.
Obama’s constant chant on reforming entitlements, including changing COLA on Social Security, would hit women the hardest, because in older age we are more likely to depend on it, a subject I’ve written on before (here, here).
Research from IWPR has shown the current Social Security program is a mainstay for women, and these findings have been supported by research from other organizations. Adult women are 51 percent (27 million) of all beneficiaries, including retirees, the disabled, and the survivors of deceased workers (52.5 million). Women are more likely to rely on Social Security because they have fewer alternative sources of income, often outlive their husbands, and are more likely to be left to rear children when their husbands die or become permanently disabled. Moreover, due to the recession many women have lost home equity and savings to failing markets. Older women—and older low income populations in general—have become more economically vulnerable and dependent on Social Security benefits. – IWPR
On “reforming” entitlements, Pres. Obama comes down the same place as Republicans, though he’s the moderate conservative, so we can expect entitlement “reform” to happen regardless of who is in the White House. In his last political term, why wouldn’t Mr. Obama join with Republicans? If the Senate goes GOP, he’ll even have an excuse. Meanwhile, there’s no one suggesting that the limit on income taxed for Social Security be raised for the wealthy, with Democrats caving again and again on a millionaire surtax, so the progressive argument is not only weakly offered, but also never fought strategically.
Pres. Obama proved his economic timidity in the 2010 midterms, when you didn’t hear anything close to the speech he gave in Kansas, which didn’t come until he began campaigning for his own reelection. At least he always has his own back. Back in 2010, he and his pal at the DNC, Tim Kaine, now running for senator in Virginia, refused to make any Democratic case at all on economics. Obama then followed that up by caving and extending the Bush tax cuts. Obama and the Democratic midterm shellacking is what delivered state houses in record numbers to the right, which led to an assault on unions, the middle class, as well as women’s individual freedoms. At a time when we all needed an economic champion what we got was a total Democratic collapse.
George W. Bush inspired the rise of the Tea Party and conservatives to start pushing back, so one hoped that Barack Obama’s repeated applications of his conservatism would unleash a requisite uprising on the left and a progressive challenger. However, there has been no challenge to Pres. Obama inside the Democratic Party, with progressives in Congress and outside groups again and again rallying for the Democratic Party head, while ignoring his preferred choice of conservatism over progressivism.
Hard economic times has led young women to get very serious about their economic choices. A New York Times article this past week offered interesting statistics. For the first time in three decades, more young women are now seeking higher education than are entering the work force.
Many economists initially thought that the shrinking labor force — which drove down November’s unemployment rate — was caused primarily by discouraged older workers giving up on the job market. Instead, many of the workers on the sidelines are young people upgrading their skills, which could portend something like the postwar economic boom, when millions of World War II veterans went to college through the G.I. Bill instead of immediately entering, and overwhelming, the job market.
Now, as was the case then, one sex is the primary beneficiary. Though young women in their late teens and early 20’s view today’s economic lull as an opportunity to upgrade their skills, their male counterparts are more likely to take whatever job they can find. The longer-term consequences, economists say, are that the next generation of women may have a significant advantage over their male counterparts, whose career options are already becoming constrained.
For now at least, many young women still feel that the deck is stacked against them.
While women focus on economics, for young, poor and rural women caught in the throes of a possible unwanted pregnancy after unprotected sex, the two will forever remain connected.
Because of this reality it remains stunning to me that in the 21st century all of us aren’t joining together, regardless of political bent, to make access to birth control, contraception, sex education a public health priority. So called “conservatives” trumpet home schooling, with “family values” candidates like Rick Santorum ignoring the consequences when our society doesn’t join together on these issues. Ron Paul’s cafeteria libertarianism, revealed through his anti-female and anti-gay policies, makes a mockery out his campaign, but again, economics rules over social policy today.
Since modern feminism was born, feminists have been told by groups like Planned Parenthood, NARAL and others that we must give money to help elect Democratic candidates who will keep our privacy protected or else.
Pres. Obama not being able to find a reelection slogan boils down to the fact that “hope and change” has been reduced to Republicans are worse.
For 30 years I’ve unflinchingly supported and voted Democratic. Over the last thirty years I’ve held my nose to vote for some pretty uninspiring Democratic candidates. Many of my colleagues, friends, readers and people I hear from via email, now put Pres. Obama in the “hold your nose” category, too. He’s earned the spot, so, boy, do I understand how they feel. Cenk Uygur wrote recently that he’s “uncommitted.”
As a feminist having listened to the Democratic Party’s warnings on what could happen if we let the right take charge, I’m no longer buying their propaganda or that the Democratic Party is worthy of support. On individual freedoms the entire Democratic structure has caved, including the first female Speaker of the House in U.S. history, Nancy Pelosi, all the way down to the so-called “Progressive Caucus.” This includes on economics, where Democrats, with Pres. Obama leading, never made the progressive Democratic economic case, whether it’s for tax increases on Social Security taxed income, higher taxes on multi-millionaires, all of which would have required a barnstorming campaign to pigeon hole recalcitrant Republicans, then shame them into submission.
Having no real choice between Democratic or Republican warmaking or economics is why so many progressives and Democrats are hailing Ron Paul, which has helped him rise in Iowa. Matt Stoller discussed his interaction with Paul during his time as an aide to former Rep. Grayson.
This is a guy who exists in the Republican Party as a staunch opponent of American empire and big finance. His ideas on the Federal Reserve have taken some hold recently, and he has taken powerful runs at the Presidency on the obscure topic of monetary policy. He doesn’t play by standard political rules, so while old newsletters bearing his name showcase obvious white supremacy , he is also the only prominent politician, let alone Presidential candidate, saying that the drug war has racist origins . You cannot honestly look at this figure without acknowledging both elements, as well as his opposition to war, the Federal government, and the Federal Reserve. And as I’ve drilled into Paul’s ideas, his ideas forced me to acknowledge some deep contradictions in American liberalism (pointed out years ago by Christopher Laesch) and what is a long-standing, disturbing, and unacknowledged affinity liberals have with centralized war financing. So while I have my views of Ron Paul, I believe that the anger he inspires comes not from his positions, but from the tensions that modern American liberals bear within their own worldview. – Matt Stoller
The two political parties have been under siege for some time, because Americans just don’t trust Republicans or Democrats anymore. Barack Obama was the last chance for political parties, specifically the Democratic brand, with George W. Bush having already given rise to rebellion inside the GOP, which is seen best through Ron Paul and the Tea Party. Meanwhile, Congress long ago ceded their importance as an equal branch of government, preferring loyalty oaths to their political party, as well as the boss in the Executive branch, which has become a marketing tool for itself, an American kingship of sorts, with no difference between Republican or Democratic presidents. Once in the White House, the presidents club rules.
So, having finally made it to the recovering partisan shore, though I’m not completely cured, I must say that Pres. Obama’s first term went a long way to liberating me permanently.
In 2012, this liberal’s vote is up for grabs.
Taylor Marsh is the author of the new e-book, The Hillary Effect – Politics, Sexism and the Destiny of Loss, which is now available in print on Amazon. Marsh is a veteran political analyst and commentator. She has reported from the White House, been profiled in the Washington Post, The New Republic, and has been seen on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera English and Al Jazeera Arabic, as well as on radio across the dial and on satellite, including the BBC. Marsh lives in the Washington, D.C. area. This column is cross posted from her new media blog.