Back in 2007 I started a two-year series of articles about the presidential primaries and general election of 2008. In that series I endorsed Barack Obama as the democratic nominee and in the presidential election of 2008. The main reason I supported Obama was that he promised change from the policies of the Bush administration. Well, I’m still waiting for those changes.
I do realize that the situation that he inherited in January of 2009 when he was sworn in as President was worse then any of us, including Obama, expected. Also, the loss of the democratic majority in congress in 2010 added to Obama’s difficulties. But that loss was, I believe, due in large part to the dissatisfaction that many of us felt with the way things had been handled the previous two years by the democratic Congress and Obama. What do i mean? Let me explain.
On both domestic and foreign policies Obama the canidate promised serious changes. What I want to focus on in this post is the changes in domestic policies he promised and next time we will talk more about foreign policies. The major domestic change that Obama promised was a major reform of the health care system in America. While most Americans believe that we have the best healthcare in the sense of what services and treatments are available and the state of the art medical technology that we have, Americans pay far more healthcare then any other country. In other words, high quality healthcare in the United states to those can afford it. The main concern of the healthcare industry is not so much the quality of care but rather the quantity of their profits. Obama promised to make healthcare affordable for all Americans irregardless of economic status.
What we got was, as far as I can tell, a muddled mess of incremental changes, and I use the word changes loosely, many of which won’t go into effect until after the 2012 election. If the conservatives have anything to say about these changes, they will not happen at all. The healthcare reform package will be repealed if the conservatives get enough votes or win the 2012 presidential election, which, given the current situation, is a definite possibility. The other domestic issue that Obama to reform is our current immigration laws. So far, all we’ve seen in that area is lots of rhetoric, but little substantial change at the national level. We have seen some very serious negative change in certain states’ policies, for example, Arizona.
The problem with our immigration policy is that the indiscriminate use of the term “illegal immigrant”. Many of the people the conservatives consider illegals are not really in this country illegally but rather have had issues getting proper documentation from the federal government. Also we need a national policy that would allow migrant farm workers from Mexico and central America who, contrary to what the conservatives want us to believe, are essential to the agricultural economy of the United States. The days of the “okie” migrant of the Dustbowl era are long gone. There are very few Americans (in the conservative sense of the word) willing to do the work these illegals do at the wages their employers are willing and able to pay them. The consequences of restricting these seasonal immigrants is that in the long term the large-scale farms that provide much of our produce will move from the US to Mexico and Central America, this is already happening and will continue to happen at an even larger scale if there is no substantial change that will allow these immigrants legal access to their employment. The end result for American consumers will be ever-increasing prices at the grocery store.
The last domestic issue that needs to be addressed at the federal is same-sex marriage. Marriage laws are traditionally a state issue, that is, each state defines what constitutes a legal marriage in that state. However, although I do agree to some extent that this is a state issue, there is a limit to what restrictions a state can and should put on their definition of marriage. Also there needs to be a strong legal distinction between a civil marriage and a religious one. While neither any state or the Federal government what constitutes a religious marriage, a civil marriage must not violate the civil rights of the persons seeking to get married. A civil marriage is and should be totally and solely a legal contract between two consenting parties. There should be no restrictions based on any criteria that can be legally construed as discriminatory. And there are numerous legal precedents that rule out gender/sex as a legal criteria for restricting contracts.
Now, to get to what went wrong the main problem is that Obama to many of the democrats in Congress or democratic canidates for Congress consummate politicians, that is, they try to hard to please everyone and end up pleasing no one. It is time for the democrats, including Obama, to stand up and be counted. Stop being so wishy-washy. Take a real stand for change. So what if the republicans call it socialism? Trust the American to know the difference between right and wrong. I think that if the democrats really take a stand and fight for substantive change, they will see many more Americans getting involved in the political process, much like we did in the 2008 presidential election. The problem both in 2008 and 2010 is that there were to many politicans running and not enough advocates for change.