George Graham

It’s No Wonder That American “Progressives” Are Disenchanted

As the Obama Administration begins to bear fruit, I’m not sure I like the crop so far. This government is turning out to be pretty bland. It’s the fall of 2009 and we are not out of Iraq. We are ramping up the war in Afghanistan, and despite the President’s rousing rhetoric, we have made no progress toward peace in the Mid-East. That wasn’t where I figured we would be after listening to Barack Oabama, the candidate. It looks as if the military industrial complex has made another convert.

Understandably, there’s a lot of grumbling going on among “progressives.” Writer David Swanson, for example, has this to say on the Pacific Press web site:

The first-term Obama foreign policy now looks increasingly like the second-term Bush foreign policy. Even where change can be spotted, it regularly seems to follow in the same vein. The New York Times, for instance, recently reported that the controversial “missile defense shield” the Bush administration was insistent on basing in Poland and the Czech Republic is being reconsidered in a many-months-long Obama administration “review.” While this should be welcomed, the only option mentioned involved putting it elsewhere — in Turkey and somewhere in the Balkans. At stake is one of the great military-industrial boondoggles of our age. Yet cancellation is, it seems, beyond consideration in Washington.

On the home front, the prospect of real health care reform grows fainter each day. Oh, there will be a bill. But it will probably be just another giveaway to Big Business. It will more than likely make health insurance mandatory for every American, with the government picking up the premiums for those who can’t afford to pay. What a deal! Better call your broker and buy some health insurance stock before prices soar out of sight.

Doesn’t that follow the pattern of the giveaway to financial institutions? Those “masters of the universe” got trillions of our tax money and nobody can tell us what they did with it. The financial policies that the Bush Administration introduced have been continued without a hitch.

obamaI am not ready to give up on President Obama. Not yet. I understand that politics is the art of the possible. I can see the difficulty of legislating change when many Democrats in Congress are conservative “Blue Dogs” who owe their souls to corporate donors. I am aware (who isn’t?) of the mindless crowd yelling “Socialist”, “Fascist”, “Nazi,” “Antichrist” and other absurd slogans every time the President opens his mouth. And I can see that the Republican Party would do anything – even destroy their own country – to bring him down.

But I am beginning to feel uneasy about the massive support he received from Wall Street and – yes – the health care and health insurance industries.

Several wall Street tycoons (notably UBS boss Robert Wolf) got behind Obama’s campaign in the beginning, when few observers thought he had a chance of being nominated. And according to the Center for Responsive Politics, Obama’s top campaign contributors included the investment firms Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, UBS Securities, Lehman Brothers, Credit Suisse and Citadel Investment Group.

And here’s an interesting excerpt from a New York Times story last October, headed “Health Sector Puts Its Money on Democrats”:

Among all the candidates in both political parties, Mr. Obama, of Illinois, is the No. 2 recipient of donations from the health care industry, having raised about $2.2 million, according to campaign finance records.

Do I think Obama is a closet conservative? Of course not. Do I think he means well? Yes I do. Is he a progressive? Perhaps. But do I see any evidence of progressive policy making in his administration? No, I do not.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for