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Obama's On-Again, Off-Again Relationship With Progressives
NPR ^ | January 05, 2013

Posted on 01/05/2013 4:42:56 PM PST by nickcarraway

When Barack Obama first took office four years ago, many progressives were on cloud nine. Here was a president pledging to tackle some of the issues closest to the progressive base: climate change, gun control and what he called our "broken immigration system."

That was in 2008. Fast forward to now and these are just a few of the unresolved issues leaving progressives unsatisfied.

With Obama's second term around the corner, some progressives are wondering if President Obama will reboot and follow through with his earlier promises.

'Obama Lost My Vote'

One progressive disappointed in Obama was Shaun Johnson, an assistant professor of elementary education at Towson University in Maryland. Johnson, who also writes for the education blog The Chalk Face, wrote a column in 2011 titled "Obama Lost My Vote."

Johnson tells weekends on All Things Considered host Jacki Lyden that in 2008, he was an ardent Obama supporter who volunteered for the campaign and knocked on doors. But after Obama's first term, the sentiment changed.

"A lot of people, especially in the education community, got all whipped up with anti-Bush and anti-No Child Left Behind sentiment, so they were really looking forward to a shift in education policy," Johnson says. "But there's not a lot of daylight between traditional Democratic and Republican education policies."

Johnson also wrote about his disappointment in things left out of the health care bill that concerned progressives, like single-payer or public-option insurance plans. He also took issue with Obama's foreign policy programs: drone strikes, surveillance and wiretapping.

"He's quite hawkish when it comes to a lot of his foreign policy," he says. "I think he has been painted as this radical leftist by the extreme right, but to me he is more of a center-right president."

Johnson says it's not enough that Obama championed seemingly progressive causes like the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and that he passed the health care law and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

"He is looking in progressive directions, but to call him a progressive, or a liberal for that matter, is a bridge too far," he says.

Despite his column and his heavy support for the Green Party's education platform, Johnson says he ultimately did end up voting for Obama in the 2012 election.

The Not-So-New Congress

Some progressives do feel more optimistic about President Obama, however. It seems, after all, like a new day with the election handily won, and Democrats like Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Baldwin moving to the Senate.

Molly Ball, a staff writer who covers national politics for The Atlantic, says progressives are about to have their hopes dashed once again.

"It's truer now than it ever was that the math just hasn't really changed in Washington," Ball tells Lyden. "The Congress is still constructed the [same] way the Congress was constructed then."

Even if Obama is feeling newly liberated by his re-election, Ball says the incremental gains made by Democrats in Congress won't be enough to keep policy fights ahead from running up against the same thing they did over the last four years. Obama would still have to turn a lot of votes in order to pass any progressive legislation, such as climate change.

"People in the environmental community ... don't even hope for climate change legislation out of this Congress," Ball says.

Changes to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid were spared in the fiscal cliff deal finalized this week, but the fact is they were on the table as part of negotiations until the last day of talks. Ball says this shows the president is open to changes on those entitlement programs, and that has some progressives and liberals nervous.

In 2008 and in his 2004 Democratic National Convention speech, Obama's message was one of bridge-building and being all-inclusive. Ball says it was appealing at the time, but in practice it hasn't been ideal for some liberals.

"There's always been these dueling strains of Obama," she says, "on the one hand as a philosophical liberal and on the other hand someone who seeks compromise — some of his allies would argue to a fault [and] that he tends to give away the store because he's so interested in building bridges to the other side."

Progressive Pressure

Bernie Sanders, for one, knows about compromise. The independent senator from Vermont objected to the fiscal deal but voted for it anyway, saying it was better than the alternative.

The co-founder of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and its only Senate member, Sanders says that by his standards, Obama is not a progressive.

"I think he is kind of a centrist, somewhere in the middle of the Democratic Party," Sanders tells Lyden. "[But] no, he's not a progressive."

Sanders says he was disappointed that the president wasn't more aggressive during the budget negotiations in standing up to what he calls a more "right-wing, extremist Republican Party."

Sanders says the president does deserve more credit, however, for the often-maligned stimulus bill. It was important for Vermont and for America, he says, and its "priorities were exactly right."

His advice to the president for his second term is to stand firm on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, as well as to push for corporations to start paying their fair share in taxes.

"If the president stands firm ... he will have the overwhelming majority of Americans behind him," Sanders says. "And sooner or later the Republicans will catch on that they are in danger of becoming a marginal, fringe party unless they get along with the program and do what the American people want."


TOPICS: Extended News; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
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1 posted on 01/05/2013 4:42:59 PM PST by nickcarraway
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To: nickcarraway

Obama’s not commie enough for NPR?


2 posted on 01/05/2013 4:45:54 PM PST by Huskrrrr
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To: nickcarraway
"I think he has been painted as this radical leftist by the extreme right, but to me he is more of a center-right president."

I'm speechless.

3 posted on 01/05/2013 4:46:20 PM PST by gorush (History repeats itself because human nature is static)
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To: nickcarraway

Nothing “on again off again” about it. Obama is giving them exactly what they want and they don’t have the courage to admit that it sucks so they’re making excuses.


4 posted on 01/05/2013 4:47:51 PM PST by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: Huskrrrr

Karl Marx isn’t commie enough for NPR.


5 posted on 01/05/2013 4:51:07 PM PST by Farmer Dean (stop worrying about what they want to do to you,start thinking about what you want to do to them)
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To: nickcarraway

What complete BS by NPR. Only some ridiculous lib outfit would not see what a complete radical Obama has been since day 1, term 1. It’s time again for us to demand Congress defund this liberal outfit.


6 posted on 01/05/2013 4:52:08 PM PST by gatewaypundit
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To: gatewaypundit

Whats really funny is that NPR thinks they have credibility enough to provide cover for Hussein Obama.


7 posted on 01/05/2013 4:56:42 PM PST by skeeter
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To: Huskrrrr

Personally, I don’t think he is a communist. I think he’s a fascist....


8 posted on 01/05/2013 4:58:55 PM PST by snoringbear (E.oGovernment is the Pimp,)
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To: nickcarraway
"I think he is kind of a centrist, somewhere in the middle of the Democratic Party," Sanders tells Lyden. "[But] no, he's not a progressive."

The founding fathers would grab their muskets if they knew the nation's hard-earned tax dollars were being hijacked to pay for such hateful stuff.

9 posted on 01/05/2013 5:01:42 PM PST by Standing Wolf
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To: nickcarraway

The “progressive” liberals would cry and whine if you strung ‘em up with a new rope. The “Won” is giving them everything they want and more. NPR is just trying to cover Barry’s butt with BS like this. Trying to convince “the gullible” that Barry is a “moderate”.


10 posted on 01/05/2013 5:03:30 PM PST by FlingWingFlyer (Where can I pick up a 2013 Mayan calendar?)
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To: FlingWingFlyer

That’s my take as well. The progtards just don’t have the stones to admit that their ideology is a complete and utter failure so they blame it on Obama’s imaginary right leaning tendencies.


11 posted on 01/05/2013 5:07:48 PM PST by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: gorush

These people think Carter was “center-right.”


12 posted on 01/05/2013 5:13:54 PM PST by Cyber Liberty (Obama considers the Third World morally superior to the United States.)
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To: gorush

I’ve seen people call Obama “far right” on other message boards. When they were asked for the basis for this claim, no answer was ever forthcoming . . .


13 posted on 01/05/2013 5:19:03 PM PST by Olog-hai
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We are beholden to no one!

14 posted on 01/05/2013 6:48:53 PM PST by RedMDer (Those that believe in gun free zones should put GUN FREE ZONE on their property and persons.)
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To: Olog-hai

The basis is that he has done exactly what Bush did in so many cases.


15 posted on 01/05/2013 6:52:18 PM PST by nickcarraway
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To: Huskrrrr

White House staff are treated to a "special" showing of "Obama 2016"...

16 posted on 01/05/2013 7:48:35 PM PST by mikrofon (Obama's America: Closed for Business)
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To: snoringbear

You have a good point.


17 posted on 01/05/2013 9:07:44 PM PST by Huskrrrr
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To: snoringbear
Personally, I don’t think he is a communist. I think he’s a fascist....

I agree. He uses socialism/communism as a smoke screen to cover up for the fact that he is a mafia style fascist, who is out to rob us literally blind. He does this under the cover of caring about distributing the wealth to all the people, because of his deep concern for all the people. It's seems altogether obvious that the only place he wants the wealth to be distributed is into his and his cronies' pockets.

He may also well be working in a knowledgeable way for Satan and cares only to kill, steal and destroy his way to the top, thinking that working for the enemy of all souls will benefit him, because he is stupid enough to think that Satan is going to win. Without repentance, an especially torrid corner of the lake of eternal fire waits for him. If he could see the future that awaits him as he continues on in pampered wickedness, he would scream in agony for mercy and repent on his face before Almighty God begging Him for His forgiveness.

18 posted on 01/05/2013 10:25:52 PM PST by Bellflower (The LORD is Holy, separated from all sin, perfect, righteous, high and lifted up.)
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To: nickcarraway
One progressive disappointed in Obama was Shaun Johnson, an assistant professor of elementary education at Towson University in Maryland. Johnson, who also writes for the education blog The Chalk Face, wrote a column in 2011 titled "Obama Lost My Vote." Johnson tells weekends on All Things Considered host Jacki Lyden that in 2008, he was an ardent Obama supporter who volunteered for the campaign and knocked on doors. But after Obama's first term, the sentiment changed.

Hey Shaun Johnson - you're a dupe and a useful idiot. How does it feel?

19 posted on 01/05/2013 10:41:54 PM PST by Zeppo ("Happy Pony is on - and I'm NOT missing Happy Pony")
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To: Zeppo

Shaun Johnson is a paid liar who is reading from a script.

The idea is to give the sychophant Democrat newsrooms some sound bites from “a disappointed liberal” that they can use to bolster their propaganda meme that Ubanga is no African communist, oh no... Ubanga is actually a centrist don’t you know...

LMBO, sure he is!


20 posted on 01/05/2013 10:55:56 PM PST by Lancey Howard
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To: nickcarraway

“If the president stands firm ... he will have the overwhelming majority of Americans behind him,” Sanders says. “And sooner or later the Republicans will catch on that they are in danger of becoming a marginal, fringe party unless they get along with the program and do what the American people want.”

LSD? It can’t be pot....marijuana just isn’t that powerful.


21 posted on 01/05/2013 11:33:35 PM PST by Psycho_Bunny (Thought Puzzle: Describe Islam without using the phrase "mental disorder" more than four times.)
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