Last October I wrote a blog post expressing my frustration with “left wing critiques of Obama that refuse to credit his achievements or acknowledge the constraints he has been under.” Now that we are heading into what could be a very close election, it’s all the more important to counter that notion that President Obama is the lesser of two evils—a view recently expressed on a progressive email list I’m subscribed to.
Encouraging people to for Obama vote because Romney would be a disaster (although certainly true) can result in voters just staying home. People want a reason to vote for someone. Obama’s achievements--criticism from both far left and far right to the contrary-- have been impressive. There is a record to be proud of.
Yes, he has not always governed as a liberal/progressive. Yes, the stimulus bill should have been much larger, but was arguably the best that could be done, given this dysfunctional Congress. Remember what a difficult time the President had getting three Republican votes in the Senate to pass the bill.
This is not a liberal/progressive country and we can’t expect him to have governed as if we were a nation of blue states. Polls consistently put the number of people who identify as liberal/progressive at no more than 20%. Many of us are working hard to change those numbers, but that is the current political reality.
The responses both to the October blog post and its reprint in a local paper were quite positive. The comments I got were all in the form of reminders of achievements I had neglected to include. So for all those who are going to be out there going door to door talking to voters or to your friends and relatives, here are some talking points:Jobs/ The Economy
True, President Obama has not ended the jobs crisis brought on by the Great Recession but financial crises, as virtually all reputable economists acknowledge, take a while to recover from. Although now reviled by both the left and the right, the stimulus program, according to most economists, brought the economy back from the brink of real disaster.
The rescue of the auto industry is certainly one of the President’s major achievements. See WAPO article on auto bailout.
Despite fierce Republican opposition, the President managed to get significant extension of unemployment benefits in the 2010 lame duck Congressional session
The passage of meaningful—again not as much as we needed—regulatory reform is an accomplishment the Republicans are itching to undo. The dismantling of regulatory agencies at the root of the current economic crisis dates back to the Clinton years. This crisis was many years in the making and we in all probability have a long ways to go before real recovery. Reasonable people understand this.Healthcare
Despite implacable Republican opposition, President Obama, with a lot of help from Nancy Pelosi, still managed to pass a healthcare bill establishing access to heath care as a right of all citizens. Sure, it’s an imperfect bill, but assuming it survives the legal challenges, we will have the opportunity to improve it, just as we have had with other deeply flawed programs, such as Social Security. Medicare at first met with fierce opposition, but gradually became an essential part of the social safety net.
The expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) extended coverage to another 4 million low-income children, increasing the total number of children covered by the program to more than 11 million.Education
President Obama’s overhaul of the college loan program resulted in significant savings for students, their families and the taxpayers. It is projected to save taxpayers roughly $68 billion over the next 10 years.
The implementation of the Post-9/11 GI Bill increased educational opportunities for veterans by making college more affordable for returning service members.Women’s Rights
President Obama’s first official act was signing “The Lily Ledbetter Equal Pay Act,” another piece of legislation the Republicans are pledged to overturn.
In his first few days of office the President rescinded the "global gag rule" which denies US taxpayer dollars to clinics around the globe that even mention abortion to women with unplanned pregnancies.
President Obama has nominated and gotten confirmation of more women and minorities to the federal bench than any president in the history of the United States. And while many of his nominees remain stalled in the Senate confirmation process, it is a stellar record nonetheless. For more info see NYT article on Obama nominees.
And let’s not forget that Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan are on the Supreme Court: their nomination is a testament to Obama’s good judgment; their senate confirmation a testament to his political skill.LBGT Rights
President Obama’s major achievement of the 2010 lame duck Congressional session was the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Admittedly it took him too long, but President Obama has affirmed his support for same sex marriage.Foreign Policy
Finally, consider Obama’s achievements: He rid the world of Osama Bin Laden and finally brought the country some degree of closure after 9/11. Somewhat too slowly from my point of view, he is winding down the two wars he inherited.
The President reached the most important arms control agreement with Russia in two decades. New START will reduce our nuclear arsenals, put inspectors on the ground in Russia, and renew America’s leadership in pursuit of a world without nuclear weapons.There is also a list of accomplishments prepared before the 2010 mid terms which contains additional info: : WHAT THE FUCK HAS OBAMA DONE SO FAR? at http://www.whatthefuckhasobamadonesofar.com/
Also something often overlooked: Obama's appointments to regulatory agencies. John Judis wrote an excellent article about this. A summary and links to Judis article “The Quiet Revolution: Obama has reinvented the state in more ways than you can imagine” at “The Quiet Revolution: Obama has reinvented the state in more ways than you can imagine.”
I’m sure I’ve overlooked something, but I think it’s clear: This President has a record which is worth defending. He should not be described as the lesser of two evils!