Andrew Santarini of Santa Rosa High School


In 2008, President Barack Obama campaigned as a man who would rein in Wall Street and would stop corporate corruption in Washington. Many Obama supporters saw him as a symbol of change, hope and progressive values. He was elected with the hope that he would discontinue policies the Bush administration put in place concerning warrantless wiretapping, the indefinite detention of prisoners, the end to Guantanamo Bay prison and tax cuts to the richest Americans. Instead, progressives got another politician who has received millions from big business and has surrounded himself with former Wall Street insiders.
Obama is a president that has extended the Bush tax cuts for two more years, continued the policy of warrantlessly wiretapping America’s phone lines and kept up with the standard practice in Washington of trying to please corporate lobbyists before the people that actually voted for him.
Obama’s health-care act might have been a quarter of a step in the right direction, I will admit, but it was one of the first signs of Obama folding on an important progressive issue that helped get him elected in the first place.
From the administration there was no fight for a single-payer system that every other developed nation enjoys, and then there was little to no fight for a public option, which was desirable, according to many polls. In the end, we got this Frankensteinian bill to which many pharmaceutical and health insurance companies contributed.
Obama also has not been shy when it comes to hiring Wall Street insiders as members of his staff.
For example, William Daley is not just Obama’s chief of staff but a former banker for banking giant JP Morgan Chase. He was hired to select key White House staff, supervise them and structure the White House staff system and was at one time beholden to a bank that was heavily involved in a system that helped sell toxic mortgages to Americans.
Obama also has shown a propensity to bow to Republican opposition whenever faced with the challenge of trying to pass something that doesn’t meet up with House Republicans criteria, which always turns out to be the cutting of a social safety net program and tax cuts for the richest Americans.
And instead of trying to sell it to the American people and trying to fight for its passing, Obama automatically makes compromises and deals that benefit the Republicans and richest corporations.
Obama hasn’t shown much skill when it comes to being an apt negotiator. When he tries to negotiate economic policy, he inevitably tries to also appease his Republican opposition by allowing the cutting of social safety net programs, such as heating for poor families in the Midwest, increasing the benefits the rich have in America and continuing the deregulation of Wall Street.
When progressives elected Obama, it was understood that he would be the leader fighting for the working class, which was hit the hardest during the 2008 recession, and that he would be the man to discontinue the Bush administration’s constitutionally/pragmatically questionable methods of fighting terrorism.
It also was believed that he would promote progressive policies that would help the poor and working class in America. Instead, Progressives got a man that has shown he cares more about big business and the appeasement of his political enemies, a man that, if anything, consolidated the Bush doctrine.
Because of Obama, the Bush doctrines are now the norms in Washington. We now seem to be fully entrenched in an America that seeks to benefit the wealthy rather than the working class. Obama has become a big disappointment, and progressives need a more viable option.