Criticism of the Obama Administration: Constructive or Destructive?

Here’s what I find interesting about all this “hate-on-the-Obama-administration” hoopla that seems to be a daily media activity: he seems to be held directly accountable for every happenstance occurrence, whether an act of God, the act of someone beyond his control, or a failure of free markets. Now compare this harsh stricture of accountability with the Bush era of administration: that guy was rarely even present as a leader. Yet there wasn’t this level of criticism of him. It’s like we expected him to be an idiot. His presidency was more notable for his absenteeism and puppetry by behind the scenes power players than it was for his management. And yet now there seems to be this underlying theme behind all of the criticism of the Obama administration: Obama is too restrained. Obama is not pushing through the progressive agenda. Obama is not prioritizing the right strata of revolutionary reform. I mean, what exactly do people think Obama is going to do, move mountains? He’s a president, not a dictator, and he has been wielding his power accordingly. He can’t wave a wand and make a worldwide economic recession go away. He can’t wave a wand and push through controversial legislation in a nation that is–for better or for worse–predominantly conservative. He can’t bend over backwards and please all of the divergent progressive agendas and still stand up to the Republican party juggernaut. Yet to hear the criticism of him, it would seem that A) people don’t really want to live in a democratic nation; B) people won’t be satisfied with anything; or C) some force out there is very cleverly steering the national conversation towards constant nitpicking criticism due to the overriding desire simply to see him fail. I think there is a combination of these factors going on, but while A and B just kind of reflect the fickleness of human nature and are unfortunately to be expected, reason C concerns me the most. It’s no secret that there are strong conservative forces out there extremely adept at manipulating the national consciousness (and with the money to back it) into maintenance of the status quo, which in this country means the rule of the super-rich via divide and conquer.

This is not to say that Obama and his administration should remain immune from criticism. They have made plenty of mis-steps in accordance to their own campaign promises and they should certainly be held accountable for that. However, it is the level and intensity of criticism that I don’t really understand, except from the standpoint of trying to derail everything he is trying to do. One has to understand what he is up against, and remember where our nation stood before he was elected president. Our nation is incredibly sick, politically and now economically speaking, and it won’t be cured by more partisanship. But that seems to be just where we are headed. And if progressives and moderates and the people straddling the lines aren’t willing to become more realistic in their expectations, and more pragmatic in their political activism, then our nation is headed right back into the pocket of decay that led to the furor that swung Obama into office in the first place. Is this really what we want?

Be realistic about what one man can accomplish in the halls of power. Hold his administration accountable, but do not expect them to make magic without any moderate or conservative support. Concessions will be made, bills will be watered down, and that is the reality of politics in our country. But it is no excuse to stop caring, throw up your hands, and allow the conservatives to creep back into power come this November.


Author: manderson

I live in NYC.

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