Obama Approval, Progressive Politics and Democratic Unity

Pundits have focused recently on President Obama’s declining public opinion polls.  As the President drops to fifty percent approval ratings, the talk speculates on whether the poor economy will sink Democratic prospects in the 2010 midterm elections.  The economy is important and the administration’s policies will not cure recession blues before the election, but of greater concern is the question of Democratic political unity.

Republicans have criticized the President’s leadership and policies from the get go, but with Progressives attacking the administration and fracturing the President’s base, some of the moderates who elected him are beginning to wonder.  Have the progressives gone off in search of Ralph Nader?

Neither the left nor the right have a majority in national American politics.  The candidate that convinces the pragmatic middle to join the ideological left or right wins both in electing candidates and in charting policy.  President Bush succeeded in maintaining the right-middle coalition between 2000 and 2008.  He used the power he was given to lower taxes on the wealthy, promote hands-off financial oversight, conduct aggressive foreign and military policy and tilt the delicate balance between rights and security not so delicately in favor of security.

President Obama won back moderates in 2008, promising to shift economic policy towards the middle class, embracing government regulation in finance, the environment and health care, and seeking new strategic solutions in international relations.  His is not, in fact, a liberal vision, despite Republican characterizations, but it is a more moderate one than what came before, and one that aims to learn from the experiences of prior administrations.As long as his coalition continues, the President’s approach to taxes and budget, justice and rights, and foreign policy and war will prevail.

However, after nine months in office, it seems the President can no longer count on the Progressive wing for support.  In the guise of influencing the President to move to the left, Progressive critics attack the President and his administration.  Calls for Treasury Secretary Geithner to resign by Rep. Peter DeFazio D-Or are but the most recent example.  The left is also troubled by economic decision-making and the potential increase in troops headed for Afghanistan.  Of course, any coalition will contain different viewpoints.  A goal of our democratic process is for hearty debate to distinguish the best ideas from all others.  But Progressives fail to grasp that the President needs the full support of those that elected him in order to achieve his agenda and present a successful Democratic party to the electorate in 2010 and 2012.  If the party is not unified, the President will not succeed and the power will shift back to the Republicans.

It is only because President Obama joined, at least temporarily, the moderate center of the electorate with the traditional Democratic party that he succeeded in bringing his moderate voice to the fore.

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86 comments

Arvind A.
Arvind A9 years ago

The poll is another hypocritical exercise. Painting a specter of GOP takeover, they want predictable answers. Ask if the political hocus pocus in the Dem Caucus desirable? But noooo, trained Rahm, the author is using all the tools to further their self-serving agenda. Hew takes the BS of Blue Dogs as a given and seeks compromise. Such spinelessness will not win Dems any votes in the election.

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Arvind A.
Arvind A9 years ago

The author is seriously mistaken and seems to be another Corporate Tool. Somehow the term "moderate" has been screwed by these selfish Tools to mean Corporatocrats. And the BS about running from the center is just that BS. Obama ran for a real change to the Washington Politics, Corporate Influence, Real Health Care reform. In fact the so called center started subscribing to the Progressive agenda. However he has fallen pray to the Corporate Tools, author possibly being one of these. These all are trying to demonize progressive as some kind of communists or socialists. Pay attention Mr Seltzer, Progressive is one who wants progress. You ill serve the President by pushing him into abandoning his campaign promises and surrounding him by Rahmsian forces. Now Mr Seltzer, you appear to be devotee of the Rahmsian gods.

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Jen Kae
Jen Kae9 years ago

What noone but me?

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Myra Gold
Jen Kae9 years ago

I remember there was such a huge group of people voting for him that we couldn't get through the polls for hours.

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Jen Kae
Jen Kae9 years ago

He seemed so imppressive and hip to our country's needs in the beginning.

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Jen Kae
Jen Kae9 years ago

I am totally surprised that with the landslide of support he got, our president has not kept one campaign promise yet.

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Carol H.
Past Member 9 years ago

I trust nothing about BO NOTHING!!!

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John A.
John A9 years ago

It is time for progressives to abandon the party that abandoned us. Let's all join the Green Party & let the Dems merge with the GOP. It is quite plain by now that there is little difference.
Why did we work to elect them? They have done NOTHING for us!!!

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Arvind A.
Arvind A9 years ago

Copy of my letter to the President:

Dear Mr P,

You get a pass on Economy - because the melt down due to 8 years of screwing around by Bush Administration can only be pinned on you by those jackasses who want you to fail no matter what. Afghanistan is being handled sincerely by trying to remedy the horror brought about by 8 years of mismanagement by Bush/Cheney. So you get a pass.

But on Health Care the responsibility of promulgating a garbage non-bill which allows the insurance companies to fatten on taxpayer blood, does not reduce the bone crushing premiums for middle class, will be squarely on you. In fact it will result in a big kick on the Donkey'e ass in 8010/8012. Mr P, there is still time for you to stop the lobotomy of the HCR bill. If you followed through on the transformative policies you championed during the campaign you can yet put your imprimatur on the Presidential legacy and reinvigorate your loyal but disheartened supporters.

Best Wishes,
Arvind Agrawal
510-490-2266

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Tonie Wallace
Tonie Wallace9 years ago

Daniel
The soldiers involved: those that died and those that lost their health and families...and those that are changed forever...it will mean nothing to those still living were we to pull another Viet Nam.
Besides if we don't take a hand when terrorists strike our own land...we can take it to the bank that striking again here is a definite for some fractions of our population see withdrawal as a sign of weakness.
I didn't write the rules...yet I bet if the military soldiers were polled and those that saw all the travisties over there, they would state to stay and at least try to finish the job for we didn't lose only 3,000 with 9/11...the police, the firemen, the nurses, those digging through all the debris and removing it, are also dying today, not to count all of the lives lost then with our soldiers, up to the moment...we have to make this one count...in hopes of never having to show this strength again...we pray!
In too deep to turn back now...for now those captured and facing trial are trying to get off on something ridculous as just cause or something...thanks to all the propaganda videos made here in America, stating that our former president created the 9/11 scenerio...and England is now investigating those first few months prior to going into Iraq and Condalizza Rice's testimonies to their parliament asking for their assistance...understand that once the roll of wars are created, it is quite difficult to just throw out the white flag and believe it is over.

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