How Liberal Can Obama’s Second Term Be?

Steve Sack, The Minneapolis Star Tribune

Barack Obama’s second term begins with a dirty word.

The New York Times reports his Inaugural Speech with a banner headline, “Obama Offers Liberal Vision,” and a new generation encounters the adjective for the first time without a pejorative like “elite” attached.

GOP wannabes get into the act. Bobby Jindal blurts, “We must not be the party that simply protects the well off so they can keep their toys,” even as he pushes to replace Louisiana’s income tax with a sales tax to squeeze the poor.

Paul Ryan complains the Inaugural proves the President is “not looking to move to the middle. He’s looking to go farther to the left.”

Rhetoric aside, how liberal can America be in coming years? How much can it recover from as far back as 2004 when the extreme right was beating drums about a “tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New-York-Times-reading…body-piercing, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show?”

Most casual observers are unaware that, from FDR on, “liberal” was a label for those trying to turn an American plutocracy into an inclusive democracy by eliminating racial, ethnic and gender bias and by creating social safety nets for society’s most vulnerable from children to the aged.

As Obama II begins, with the body politic turning away from the political cliff of a Romney victory, the rehabilitation of “liberal” is looking like weak tea.

Joe Biden’s anti-gun crusade starts by blowing kisses to the Second Amendment and setting its sights low while only Dianne Feinstein and a few Democrats without Oval Office dreams push for real change.

MORE.

  

Author: ROBERT STEIN

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4 Comments

  1. Not very. We missed the 25% unemployment rate of the depression because of liberal intervention in the country’s economy. How much else can be accomplished depends on whether the Republican moderates can either turn their ship around or dump overboard those Tea Party members still functioning.

  2. Hearing honest remarks from Jindal about the GOP and the fact that, like other human beings, they have recently allowed themselves to actually compromise over an issue that threatened the over-all well being of Americans with a possible second recession, are encouraging signs that allow those of us who continued (out of desperation) beating our heads against the wall, over the complete and utter stupidity of the GOP, can perhaps, finally quit doing that for a brief time. I use the word “brief,” because whether from Presidents like Reagan, or from those complaining about “pussy footing” northern liberals, like Governor George Wallace, using the L word pejoratively has always been fair game for Republicans and always will be ! Any degree to which Democrats move towards the left will be defined as radical and threatening—to the extent that any of their policies actually dare to oppose those of Republicans! Is the Pope catholic?

  3. Axe grinding talk-radio gasbags had a lot to do with turning the meaning of “liberal” on it’s head long ago. The only intention they had was to make it a dirty word. The true liberal definition and it’s history will continue to elude people who are slaves to partisanship and the ignorance that feeds the condition. We of a certain age who know what liberal means and what it’s history and legacy is will continue to take pride in the label.

  4. Being a moderate Republican is too far left for the current Republican party. If they even say anything nice about the pres or dare to criticize their own party they get flack publicly and/ or treated with utter disrespect ( Christy and the Sandy Bill is a good example)

    Jindal walks a very fine line with them, and as long as the right extremists remain in power, anyone trying to improve things will have a hard time of accomplishing anything.

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