An election is just weeks away, and most signs predict disaster for Democrats. My friend K. and I were therefore engaged in the traditional liberal pastime of diagnosing what ails the country, and progressivism in general. It was during that long IM conversation that I finally found my voice for my frustrations with the President, but even more importantly with the state of my country.
The economy is in the tank, and is likely structurally flawed for the foreseeable future. Economic opportunities continue to evaporate and families continue to fall on hard times, with costs to society that extend far beyond what economics can measure. To stave off total disaster, the government was forced to channel massive resources to undeserving industries, many of which made off like bandits, and few of whom made any pretense at attending to the public good to which their salvation was owed. Not un-relatedly, wealth disparity continues to grow at an alarming and infuriating rate.
American soldiers continue to die in faraway lands, largely forgotten or ignored by a country inured to war but happy to engage in petty and cynical exploitation of the tragedy that sent us to war in the first place. The chief exploiter? The nation's leading media force, a conservative propaganda machine that consistently steamrolls the now-discredited "mainstream media". Not un-relatedly, nativism and intolerance stalk the land.
Government is increasingly dominated by corporate interests and money. Both parties are increasingly in thrall to various narrow interests. Not un-relatedly, government appears incapable of addressing fundamental systemic risks like our nation's long-term fiscal health and climate change.
Against this backdrop, the President implores me to appreciate his many accomplishments: the health care reform liberals have fought decades for, a stimulus package that averted economic disaster, a drawdown of troops in Iraq, new comprehensive rules for the financial industry, progress on education reform, Supreme Court justices I can be proud of. The President's staff tells me that I am ungrateful for what has been done, or unrealistic to expect more. Or more likely both.
I am a baseball fan, so I will use a baseball analogy. The President hit a towering home run with health care reform (and some nice doubles too). I am neither ungrateful nor unappreciative of the accomplishment. But the forces of selfishness and division ran up the score on us over the past several years, and I want to know what the game score is. Is it ungrateful of me to ask? Is it unrealistic for me to focus on winning the game?
Mr. President, we as a nation are losing the game, by a significant margin. And sadly (and frustratingly), I fear you will only realize it after the election.