After the presidential election of 2008 well over a thousand college students on the campus of SUNY Plattsburgh poured out into the streets and started celebrating. Like college students everywhere they had voted for what they believed would be a new generation of political change. Although some of those celebrating were jumping on the party bandwagon, the majority were thrilled that the new Democratic President had been elected and three decades of conservative governance was at an end. This occurred at colleges all over the nation, students celebrated after spending days if not weeks volunteering for the local Democratic field office. Unfortunately, almost three years later President Obama does not seem to care that those college students as well as many other key segments of the Democratic base see him as a major disappointment. President Obama’s re-election strategy seems to be the idea that he can ignore his base because they will have no choice but to vote for him again. He is hedging his bet that these students will vote for the devil they know instead of risking a Republican who would potentially do an even worse job. If the liberals who make up his base are smart they will call his bluff on Election Day.
Down the line it seems that every major interest group in the Democratic Party has been ignored by the current administration. Recently Environmentalist’s maybe the best example of who he has infuriated. On September 2nd Obama singularly decided to delay stronger standards for smog and pollution despite the fact that “smog standards would generate $37 billion in value for a cost of about $20 billion by 2020.”These regulations were not just popular with his base, but with the American people, “75 percent support the EPA’s effort to set stronger smog standards and 66 percent believe that EPA scientists — not Congress — should establish clean air standards.” To top it off, his actions occurred during the same time that 1,252 people were arrested in front of the White House for protesting the Keystone Pipeline Project, aproposed oil pipe line that the president has the sole authority over.
Democrats also seem to be in danger of losing their longest standing allies: organized labor. In 2008 Obama seemed to be a big proponent of organized labor but has disappointed the movement on almost every issue by passing extensions of Bush Tax Cuts, and trade agreements with South American countries. He has not only disappointed labor by what he passed, but also by refusing to fight for minimum wage increases, government run health care, or pro-union legislation. According to the Huffington Post, unions have already begun to take money out of the Democratic Party and invest it in fight for union support at the state level. “The AFL-CIO’s president, Richard Trumka, says it’s part of a new strategy for labor to build an independent voice separate from the Democratic Party”, and could become a huge financial loss for Democrats.
Last month columnist Ted Rall expressed his idea that there are two types of people who are the Democratic base; those who vote party politics like they root for football teams, and those who really believe in the issues the party stands for. If a voter roots for Democrats first then it is sure they will be cheering, “Go Donkeys” next November. However, if they are Liberals first, what incentive do they have to vote for Obama? Sure Obama has been on the right side of issues at times, with two good Supreme Court justice appointments, and expanding SCHIP for 4 million children. He has also spread out funding better than a Republican would such as increasing funding towards the Office on Violence Against Women. It is understandable that some will vote for Obama because at times he has been a moderate on relatively minor issues, but on the major ones, his record has been terrible.The argument that a Republican president would do worse really seems moot if someone were to vote strictly on the preponderance of actions taken by President Obama over the last three years. If a voter considered themselves environmentalists would they really think Rick Perry would do worse than make a debt deal that cuts the EPA and then agrees to extend the Keystone Pipeline? If they are an isolationist or a peace advocate do they really believe that Mitt Romney would be bombing more countries than Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Libya? If they are economic liberals do they really believe that a Democratic Congress fighting a President Paul would agree to a worse deal than a budget cutting trillions in programs (including discussing cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid in the future) but didn’t raise taxes on corporations or the rich by one cent?
So what are liberals to do? When it comes to President Obama the best thing is simple: do not vote for him. The reason that he has been pursuing these issues seems to be that he takes his base for granted, and believes they will rally around him during the election season. If they vote for Obama it will prove this belief and liberals will continue to lose on issues that matter to them. This does not mean they should vote Republican, but instead look at third parties or consider not voting for president during the election. Ted Rall believes that liberals should not vote for the entire Democratic Party, but that is unfair. Liberals should not vote for someone they don’t agree with, yet there are many members of Congress who represent liberal’s interests and deserve to be reelected. In fact if liberals really want to get the message across the best solution is to call the campaigns and say why they are not voting for Obama, but that if candidates stand for progressive goals, they will be supported. The best course of action for college students, environmentalists and union organizers is to campaign for Congressional Liberals and accept that the next president is just not that into them. Only when liberals sit out an election for president will the Democratic Party fight for issues liberals believe in. If the Democratic Party realizes that they need their base, they may once again fight for liberals who care about real issues, not just whether a “D” or an “R” is in front of a politician’s name.