Perhaps solidly Progressive Democrats were not listening carefully to Barack Obama in 2008. Perhaps they were just too anxious to oust the worst U.S. president since Herbert Hoover. Perhaps the millions of dollars in contributions from Wall Street corrupted his vision for America. Perhaps Barack Obama was “corporatist” all along. Whatever the reasons, there are those within the Democratic Party who are not pleased with President Barack Obama’s first term record. It is not what they expected when they ardently worked on his behalf and cast their vote in November 2008.
They expected a single-payer healthcare system. They earnestly lobbied Obama for “Medicare for All,” or at a minimum some sort of “public option.” But Obama didn’t listen. In fact, he came to the negotiating table having given away nearly all of his bargaining chips. And stalwart Democrats were left to ask, “Why?”
Progressives believed that there was no acceptable moral or ethical action but to hold Wall Street responsible for its corruption. But Obama followed the lead of George Bush and continued to bail them out. He might have, at a minimum, held individuals responsible for the near catastrophe that they brought to the American – even world – economy by bringing criminal charges against the perpetrators. But three and a half years later, no such actions have taken place – and they appear not likely to take place.
Obama could have held Vice President Dick Cheney and President George Bush accountable for their lies about Saddam Hussein’s involvement in the 9-11 attacks and for the non-existent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the lies that hoodwinked the American public into accepting an unwarranted war against Iraq that cost lives and treasure. But he insisted that the country should look forward, not back. Perhaps Obama, too, was lustful of Middle East oil.
And then there is the environment and climate change. For every two steps forward, our president follows with another one back while the extraction industries rape and pillage the land and threaten the atmosphere for the coming generations.
There are other areas of consternation, but however it all came about, some in Boulder County took the principled position to send a message to our Party’s president: That far but no farther.
At Saturday’s Boulder County Democratic Party County Assembly and Convention, there were 288 delegates available for the Colorado Democratic Party Convention in Pueblo on April 14. Of the 354 county delegates remaining for the afternoon session that nominated President Barack Obama for a second term, 55 of those delegates rose in opposition to the president’s policy choices. Those 55 delegates amounted to 16% of the votes and “met threshold.” As a consequence, there will be delegates in Pueblo to carry the Uncommitted message.
It is not known whether other Democrats throughout Colorado rose to send the same message to our president. I can only hope that they did. As one who rose, I had no idea how few or how many would do so. There was no coordinated effort, no campaign. It was heartwarming to see so many committed Democratic progressives stand in protest.
It has been disheartening to watch the Democratic Party drift steadily to the right, election after election, since 1980. It is disheartening to observe how the Democratic Party has been repeatedly played by the ever-growing fascistic and totalitarian elements in the Republican Party as they accomplish a goal and then move the goal-post further and further to the right.
While the action today was small, I hope it will be a harbinger of changes to come. I hope it will be both an indicator and a motivator for other progressive Democrats to say, “We will no longer allow our Party to be high jacked by those who would compromise our values. We will not let our Party become a watered down version of the Republican Party of Corporate America. We will no longer watch the future of our families and friends and our environment slip into inevitable decline, if not disaster.”
So let this be the beginning as we “take back” our Democratic Party as well as the direction of our nation. The journey of a mile begins with one step.