President Obama and the Road Forward

obama scratching headPresident Barack Obama has been convincingly re-elected. Obviously, American’s want even more of what we saw, heard and sensed in him four years ago. Here’s a man who possesses vision and determination tempered with intelligence and a willingness to listen. He’s been the most amazing President, both politically and personally. And now, as we enter 2013, he has again harnessed those ideals and goals which spotlights the Progressive and Liberal Road forward. A road which we call Hope.

After the horrendous shootings in Connecticut, the road forward has never seemed so desperate. Our country faces political division, seemingly freezing the ability of our leaders to respond to this tragedy in an intelligent, comprehensive way. Even with this carnage, there is foreboding that nothing can/will be done to curb the slaughter. All eyes are on our President.

It would seem a no-brainer for Congress to pass Senator Diane Feinstein’s Assault Weapons Ban. However, the ability of pro-gun groups to stall and kill any legislation that has the slightest hint of gun control seems insurmountable. That the country cries out for leadership is undeniable.

Our President is being asked to undertake the impossible. Again!

At this moment, the Republicans are in disarray. Speaker Boehner has displayed a true lack of leadership. Over in the Senate, conservative beacon, Senator Jim DeMint, after seeing his party lose ground in Congress, is following the old adage, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going!” For him, the possibility of a million dollar salary from the Heritage Foundation proved more attractive than staying in the Senate and “fighting for conservative ideals.” With his proven ability to find the most outlandish, unelectable right-wing Senate candidates, the Heritage Foundation can only be in for a bumpy ride.

It seems our President will be left to deal with the Republican who can scream the loudest!

obamas walkingWith his election in 2008, Barack had already secured his place in history just by being the first African-American President. However, he was not content to rest on that victory. Now we know that was just the beginning!

As promised, he ended the Iraq War while confirming that America was not in the region to create an oil-driven colonial empire. He tracked and killed Osama Bin Laden – mastermind of 911 – and a leading terrorist who was off the radar of the Bush administration. Further, leaving Afghanistan is slated for next year. And, in spite of all the bad blood, history will surely remember that Barack held out his hand in friendship to the entire Muslim world – approximately 25% of the world’s population. He rebuilt America’s image abroad, was a good-faith partner to nations in the Middle East, began rebuilding our reputation and image in the United Nations while visiting 50 foreign countries.

At home, we need to remember that he stopped America from slipping into a Depression. History will remember him for engineering healthcare reform; something that had evaded Democratic presidents for over a half century. The auto industry was saved. He became the defender of women, minorities and, especially, the lgbt community.

He staunchly defended Planned Parenthood and fought for the right of women to choose. He helped the nation to stand against legitimate rape, rape as God’s plan for women and personhood. He appointed two women to the Supreme Court. He reached out to Hillary Clinton, his opponent in the 2008 Democratic primaries, and she accepted his offer of becoming Secretary of State. History will surely note the spectacular wisdom, cooperation and loyalty she brought to that position.

Barack supported the Dream Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) by announcing that his administration would no longer deport young undocumented immigrants.

He also became the first sitting president to announce his support for marriage equality. There’s no doubt that Americans followed Barack’s lead when he came out publicly not only for same-sex marriage, but lifted DADT (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell) and refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court. The result of his leadership, and strong grassroots campaigns, encouraged the citizens of Maine, Maryland and Washington state to vote in favor of marriage equality and voters in Minnesota to defeat an initiative which would have banned same-sex marriage.

The Supreme Court is now set to rule on several several key issues regarding DOMA and marriage equality.

Also, he faced, from day one, Republicans who were determined to defy, derail and destroy him. There was no “loyal opposition.” Instead, what he got, was a political party which wanted to starve government and, according to Grover Norquist “… shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” Worse, they were supported by the most ugly and negative media onslaught ever thrown at a president.

Not since President Lincoln was race such a big factor in an election! Barack survived. But, even Lincoln never had to stare down opponents who accused him of not being born in America while tearing down his Faith.

And now, Barack is half-way through his presidency. Amazingly, he is again “Fired up! Ready to go!”

His agenda will include jobs. I hope he has an “urban agenda” which would include boosting inner-cities, creating more opportunities and revitalization for education, healthcare, transportation, energy and housing. Healthcare must remain a top priority and opportunities must be seized to move further toward universal healthcare.

I hope he will demand substantive immigration reform. He wanted to do even more in his first term and acknowledged during a Univision News Forum, “…I promised that I would work every single day, as hard as I can, to make sure that everyone in this country, regardless of who they are, what they look like, where they come from, that they would have a fair shot at the American dream. That promise I’ve kept.”

carl matthesNeeded is equal pay for equal work for everyone and full equality, in the eyes of the law, for the lgbt community. No doubt there will be chances for him to make additional appointments to the Supreme Court.

Our country is entering an exciting era. We all are proud of our President and all of us pledge to do our part to ensure a continuing growth of Liberal and Progressive ideas and policies.

Carl Matthes

Fridady, 21 December 2012

Photos: White House Photographer Pete Souza

Published by the LA Progressive on December 21, 2012
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About Carl Matthes

Carl Matthes is a native of Los Angeles and has lived in Eagle Rock for 45 years. He is the current president of UGLA, Uptown Gay and Lesbian Alliance, a grassroots organization in Northeast Los Angeles which provides a support system for gay men and lesbians and education for individuals and the community-at-large on the true nature of homosexuality. He is a former columnist and a current advisor to the Lesbian News, the oldest lesbian publication in America, which is owned and published by his sister, Ella. He was editor of the GLAAD/LA (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) newsletter, a former GLAAD National Board member and served as a GLAAD/LA representative on the LGBT/LAPD Advisory Board. Carl has also been a Board member of AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

In July, 2008, Carl was legally married to Carl Johnson, his partner of 45 years, by Los Angels City Councilmember Jose Huizar. It was a unique gay/lesbian double ceremony as Carl's sister Ella and her partner Gladi were also married by Jose.