Happy 4th! Declare independence from negative nabobs’ tyranny

by Karoli on July 4, 2010 · 17 comments

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Happy Independence Day! I mean that with all sincerity. A quick scroll of the posts and news I missed over the last week or so while hiding out in a warm tropical paradise tells me a little hope is in order, stat. Be forewarned: This post will not tell you how miserable our government is, or how awful our lives are, or how corporations own us all. If you were looking for that, skip over this one and look around. You’ll find plenty of folks elsewhere to reinforce that belief. I prefer success, and especially hope.

I am by nature an optimist. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the snark and snipe games as much as the next guy, but my natural inclination is to see the good rather than the bad. Despite popular themes, far more good has come out of the past 18 months of the Obama administration than bad. And that good is only now beginning to hatch. Is it as good as it gets? No. Can it be better? Sure, just ask any of the folks who lost their unemployment benefits (thanks to Republicans) or have exhausted them. Even so, what I see is a half-full glass that needs to be filled more, but still offers a refreshing break.

How many of you can count the number of accomplishments this administration has actually delivered over the past 18 months? Friends are working on a detailed list now, and the number of substantial, documented, quantifiable accomplishments of this President is well over 300. So far.

300 substantial positive changes in 18 months. That’s a remarkable number, certainly far more than we’d have seen if Almost-President McCain and Quitter Palin had been elected. Accomplishments that invest in present and future. Some correct past mistakes. Others seek to establish a strong foundation to build a future for us all. Still others affirm a commitment to opportunity for all of us.

Here are a few easily-forgotten examples.

  • Offshore tax haven closure, which benefited rich investors, outsourcers and corporate tax dodgers. [Reference]
  • Reformed Credit Card laws, adding consumer protections against predatory credit card lenders [Reference]
  • Doubled federal funding for clean fuel research [Reference]
  • Expanded Pell grants, enabling more low-income students to go to college. [Reference]
  • Established climate change as a policy priority and set benchmarks for efficient energy standards. [Reference]

These accomplishments stand next to the ones most obvious: Turning the economy around, restoring our international standing, initiating a call for an end to nuclear proliferation worldwide, and getting universal health care passed, to name a few.

For those of you who are already sputtering “but, but, but….” and pointing out how each of the initiatives I listed or mentioned are impure, or somehow flawed from the original vision, I offer this: Legislation is an act of Congress. The health care bill, for example, teetered on the very, very edge of what was legislatively possible given the players in the House and in the Senate. One look at the vote counts should be all it takes to understand what that means. Changing one small provision could have killed the entire effort. Instead, we have a future which includes coverage for all, and subsidized coverage for those who cannot afford any health care, covered or otherwise.

All of this — all 300 separate accomplishments — are a down payment on future progress. This is what change looks like. It looks incremental, not immediate, and moves slower than any of us want. Some say it wears the tarnish of compromised promises. I say it wears the patina of unrivaled effort.

It is July 4, 2010. In 4 months, there will be an election. What is said today matters to that election of tomorrow. Ignoring what has been done in this short time will not win those elections. Using what has been done in 18 months to build upon a better, more progressive Congress will not only win elections, it will lay the foundation for more progress and more opportunity to rebuild what conservatives have spent the past 40 years tearing down.

Blue America is already working toward that future. If hope is kept at the forefront — yes, HOPE — we will make opportunities to perfect and refine the work in progress.

Hope pushed our founding fathers to sign their names to a Declaration of Independence. This country was founded on hope and optimism, not despair and criticism.

Digby is right:

I don’t cut President Obama much slack — the job is too important for that and he doesn’t need patronizing sycophants — but on Independence Day it pays to remember that the election of the first black president is still, as the Veep would say, a Big F$@#ing Deal:

I wonder too about whether President McCain would really care enough to do this for the baby turtles in the Gulf.

Know hope.

Cross-posted to Crooks & Liars

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  • http://twitter.com/avivao Aviva

    As one of those “negative nabobs” (by nature, naturally), I must step out of my usual role and give kudos to this project. It’s refreshing to read this list of successes for the Obama administration. Yes, I know. The successes aren’t wholly successful in many cases.

    Yes, I know. The list isn’t perfect (according to whatever criteria may be used by various negative nabobs ~ and I’m one of them, so no insult intended).

    BUT…AND…this list of Obama’s achievements IS refreshing. Even I feel a surge of hope.

    As the Book of Ecclesiastes says, to everything, there is a season. Turn, turn, turn. Let’s turn our attention to keeping Congress out of the tea-stained fingers of those who would sabotage what has been hard-won.

    ♫♪ Joni Mitchell + Pete Seeger ::.. There is a Season (Turn, Turn, Turn) ::.. ♫♪ http://bit.ly/dzF2W5

  • http://pammcallister.com Pam McAllister

    Well said! We could use a whole lot more commentary like this, to drown out all the negativity.

    What would happen if all of us progressives changed the conversation to focus on hope and optimism? What more would become possible?

    And what if Obama felt we really had his back? I have a hunch this matters more than we might think … he is human, after all.

    Glad you're in the world, Karoli.

  • http://www.drumsnwhistles.com/ Karoli

    thanks, Pam! When the conversation changed to a focus on hope and optimism, we elected a black guy as President. Since then, the right has worked hard to wear down and shift the conversation to a view that's critical and ugly. Rather than be branded as “apologists”, many progressives have opted for the negative and critical pathway.

    We can't afford that, not if we want to keep pushing forward. I really, truly hope that changes, and soon.

  • http://www.drumsnwhistles.com/ Karoli

    thanks, Pam! When the conversation changed to a focus on hope and optimism, we elected a black guy as President. Since then, the right has worked hard to wear down and shift the conversation to a view that's critical and ugly. Rather than be branded as “apologists”, many progressives have opted for the negative and critical pathway.

    We can't afford that, not if we want to keep pushing forward. I really, truly hope that changes, and soon.

  • http://pammcallister.com Pam McAllister

    You've hit the nail on the head. We saw — less than two years ago — how a strong message of hope can mobilize people. Yet already many of our friends have forgotten that lesson.

    How do we organize more of a movement toward hope and optimism? Find more voices like yours (and mine) and amplify them?

    Seems like that's the whole game right now, at least for me.

  • http://www.twitter.com/danny6114 danny6114

    That brightens my whole fourth, thanks Karoli!

  • bill_free

    The nattering. Don't forget the nattering.

    And as for Senator McCain, he's using the Gulf disaster as an excuse to try and overturn the Jones Act. That's just the most recent clue to what might have been.

    By the way, I wish Russ Feingold were reading this. If financial reform goes down in flames, it will likely be on his shoulders. He's earned my respect, but he's lost my support.

    Thanks for writing, and happy Fourth!

  • Matt Keefe

    God damn you guys! For a young and (sadly) already jaded progressive like me this article and your comments are a breath of fresh air. My generation seems to be pretty evenly split between anti-government nutjobs and “by default” laissez-faire hipsters. Thanks for giving me some hope that there are more genuine and devoted liberals out there.

  • Alamar9

    I like the Hope you put out there today, Karoli. 4th of July should be filled with celebration of our accomplishments and especially the POTUS and The Hope that he still has for the future in and of his administration.
    Thank you.
    Alamar
    P.S. glad you are ok and looking forward to seeing your pics of this day;)

  • http://twitter.com/avivao Aviva

    Was there something about my comment that you didn't like? I posted it last night, and still don't see it. It wasn't negative. In fact, I praised the work that was being done on #oWiki. Please let me know why my comment wasn't “approved.”

  • http://twitter.com/avivao Aviva

    Posted last night, July 4, at around 10:00 PM (and reposted again today; it seems to have “gone missing.”

    From a negative nabob to a starry-eyed optimist:

    I must step out of my usual role and give kudos to this project. It's refreshing to read this list of successes for the Obama administration.

    Yes, I know. The successes aren't always wholly successful.

    Yes, I know. The list isn't perfect (according to “negative nabob” standards).

    BUT…AND…this list of Obama's achievements IS refreshing. Even I feel a surge of hope.

    As the Book of Ecclesiastes says: To everything, there is a season (turn, turn, turn).

    Let's turn our attention to keeping Congress out of the tea-stained fingers of those who would sabotage what has been hard-won.

    ____________________________________________________________________

    ♫♪ Joni Mitchell + Pete Seeger ::.. There is a Season (Turn, Turn, Turn) ::.. ♫♪ http :// bit.ly/dzF2W5

  • http://www.drumsnwhistles.com/ Karoli

    i'm not sure what's going on….i saw it on crooks and liars for sure, not sure why it didn't post here. Looking into it now. I greatly appreciated it being on C&L, because that comment strand was painful. :(

  • http://ashleighburroughs.blogspot.com Ashleigh Burroughs

    Why is it that those on the left have such a hard time applauding success? Do we define success as equaling perfection? Are we so righteous that nothing but the best is worthy of note? It's the naivete that gets to me the most, the need to be “on the bus” or “off the bus”… it's not just a republican phenomenon anymore. We are shooting ourselves in our collective feet. Give the man a chance – he has to undo decades of Clinton's poll driven policies and Bush's Cheney driven madness and he's only had a year and a half to work on it. C'mon people…..
    a/b

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  • So Sad

    The jobless comments and whose to blame are very amusing. Your delusional beliefs if passed into law will continue the problem of joblessness. The idea that all of America's financial problems rests at the feet of corporations and the Repbulicans is naive…. You continue to humor me.

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