A Democrat loses his enthusiasm

As a Democrat, I look at President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign and I’m not excited; nor am I particularly happy. Sometimes I wonder what happened to the man who promised Democrats he would make sweeping changes to address problems and steer America in a new direction away from failed policies of the past.

I look at America and see Guantanamo still open. I see America involved in more than twice the number of wars that President George Bush started. I remember a candidate who promised to close Guantanamo and end those wars. In hindsight, I realize that Obama has not pursued the promises he made to progressive Democrats with any discernible enthusiasm, and I wonder why that is.

I look at the world and see deep political unrest spreading across many nations in the Mideast. This unrest has spawned conflict that President Obama has openly encouraged and in some cases directly supported with funding and military operations.

Obama took advantage of America’s desire to end its involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but has in fact doubled the number of wars we are involved in. The governments of several Mideast countries, including Egypt and Tunisia, have collapsed and been replaced, while Obama continues to act directly against the government of Libya and indirectly against the government of Syria.

Obama claims these acts are intended to protect civilians. That argument helped get us into the Vietnam War.

Regarding those “civilians,” I remember TV video footage from Libya of men driving pickup trucks with giant machine guns mounted in the back. I remember seeing men brandishing AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades.

Such men would have been deemed battlefield combatants and mercenaries if they were fighting us in Iraq and Afghanistan, but since they are fighting Moammar Gadhafi in Libya, they are civilians. This is intellectually dishonest. Like Iraq, none of these countries have attacked us.

Remember when President Bush said “Saddam must go, — he must leave Iraq”? Obama said the same thing about Gadhafi in Libya.

Regarding Libya, Obama has argued that the War Powers Resolution does not apply to him because we are not involved in “hostilities” as the legal term was intended to be used.

The bottom line is Obama has involved the U.S. military in operations that are killing people in a foreign country that did not attack us, and has done so without the constitutional approval of Congress.

In addition, Obama presides over a CIA drone program that targets and bombs groups deemed unfriendly in Pakistan and Yemen. Taken together, all this sounds like something former Vice President Dick Cheney would do.

Many progressives have asked themselves where the change went. This man who rode a popular wave of change to the White House has applied that mantra of change almost entirely to Arab countries in the Middle East, while little to nothing substantial has happened at home. This man who promised he would end the Mideast conflict between Israel and the Palestinians through peace negotiations has accomplished nothing in that regard besides being lectured to and publicly humiliated by Israel’s prime minister.

Obama seems to operate on the premise that Democrats have no choice but to re-elect him because the other guys — the Republicans — are worse. I’m not ready to re-elect Obama without a careful analysis of what he promised to do and what he has actually accomplished for the party that elected him.

From my perspective, that analysis does not produce a favorable result. We voted for a man who would end the wars, close Guantanamo, repair the economy, create jobs, reign in the un-regulated and immoral behavior of Wall Street, protect the middle class from job losses and mortgage foreclosures, and adjust our income tax system to better address the incomes of the wealthy that completely outstrip the current tax tables.

We got none of that.

After going soft on the banks and Wall Street, and big corporations including General Motors, and after extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, Obama has done almost nothing for working-class Americans who can’t find jobs and are losing their homes to foreclosure. In fact, if you look at the net results of the first two years of Obama’s administration, what you actually see looks a whole lot like George W. Bush’s third term. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Bruce Vandiver of Lula is working odd jobs while looking for work in project engineering.