People Respond to Conviction

obama playing pool

White House photo: Pete Souza

In the past several weeks, President Barack Obama took two bold, moral stands — expressing support for marriage equality and giving DREAMers legal standing until Congress can be forced to act — which put him 13 points ahead of Mitt Romney among likely voters, according to a Bloomberg poll released Wednesday.

Now, even for those who might want to believe its every precious word, that simple sentence is well beyond shaky.

First, as pundits quickly pointed out, most polls put Romney neck and neck with Obama in a seesaw race they expect will last right down to Election Day.

So, there must be something wrong with the Bloomberg poll — its respondents were too well educated, the questions nudged them to make choices they wouldn’t have made on their own — and subsequent polls will set the dead-heat record straight.

That has to be it, else the Koch brothers might as well proceed with those plans to buy Guatemala instead of the White House, the Manhattan-Beltway pundit class will suddenly need gainful employment, the political blogosphere can return to Sudoku, and Mitt can finally buy Ann another $78,000 dancing horse.

Then there’s the question of the “bold and moral” component of Obama’s two stands. The President’s personal support for marriage equality will allow no gay or lesbian couple to marry, as he merely expressed his view that individual states should redress an inequality.

And his memo giving certain DREAMers an avenue to apply for temporary work and student visas does nothing to permanently enact comprehensive immigration reform.

Ever at the ready, pundits — maybe a slightly different group of them — decried the political nature of Obama’s two moves, which they contend were designed to fire up support among the LGBT and Latino communities, which otherwise might be tempted to sit out this election as so many did in 2010.

But complaining that the President played “politics” with these issues, using political tools to influence public opinion and move the country in desired directions, is a little like condemning your doctor for turning “medical” on you during an exam.

Now, if Obama took these positions only to garner public support — think Mitt “Weathervane” Romney etch-a-sketching himself right and further right for incremental political gain — then we’d have every right to condemn Obama’s actions as the crassest of politics.

But the President has a history of support for the DREAM Act and for social justice for the LGBT community. And you get a sense watching him announce these two ground-breaking positions that he’s following his moral compass, even if it took pressure from the left to get him to point the way.

Now, risky as these two moves were, they were wildly successful in a political sense. Even if we can’t fully believe the Bloomberg poll, we saw Ben Jealous and the NAACP get behind marriage equality, moving the Black community in a more progressive direction, and polls show Latinos indeed getting “fired up, ready to go” on Obama’s behalf.

More than that, they were successful on a moral level. The problem many in the progressive community have had with the Obama administration is that it hasn’t taken enough strong, moral positions like these two.

Find me a progressive who doesn’t wonder how Obama — mesmerizing orator that he is — could not make his way to Madison, Wisconsin, once this whole past year to rally the pubic service union members.

Show me a left-leaning Democrat who energetically backed Obama’s 2008 campaign who doesn’t wonder how Obama — potential lightening rod for change that he is — couldn’t make it to a single Occupy encampment to express support in the moral battle against economic injustice.

Point out one liberal…well, you know the script. We’ve all got our laundry list of this administration’s promises broken, opportunities missed, and feckless compromises made.

dick priceAs Marianne Williamson, the New Age spiritual activist, said at a delightful presentation in Santa Monica Monday night, “People respond to conviction.”

President Obama showed conviction with his stances on marriage equality and justice for DREAMers — and that has paid off. We can only pray for more of the same, both from the President and from those on the Left who need to press him time and time again the way these two communities have.

Dick Price
Editor, LA Progressive

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Posted: Thursday, 21 June 2012


  1. says

    Though many folks are indeed disappointed in the “promises broken,” let us not forget that not even a superhuman can move a mountain; and the Republicans’ diehard obstructionism that began the day Obama was being inaugurated unfortunately proved to be much harder to overcome than anyone might have guessed. Yes, Pres. Obama has been in the White House almost four years. And yes, he hasn’t achieved all he wanted and we wanted. But according to numerous historians and nonpartisan writers, Obama achieved more in his first three years of office than most, if not all, his modern-day predecessors. This is even more astounding when one considers the veiled racism, constant public denigration, and historic filibustering by the GOP. I doubt that any President has had to deal with the abominable disrespect, lack of cooperation, and downright intransigence that the current crop of GOP has dispensed.

    Yet, through this minefield of hatred and subversion by the GOP–who have cared more about toppling Pres. Obama than they have about helping their fellow Americans overcome this recession–our President has been the epitome of dignity and grace under pressure and has plowed forward with what he could do: appoint women to the U.S. Supreme Court, focus on equal pay for women, eliminate DADT, pass some healthcare reform, institute financial regulations, militate for green energy, speak up for students, proffer a jobs bill, and advocate for full equality via marriage equity and deportation waivers for our young immigrants. May his victory in November be a landslide!

    • Hwood007 says

      I think you should read the  life and times of the last ten Presidents, they all had problems they had to work through.  I think the current President just did not have enough contact with people in his past that did not see things his way and thus he now has to work for another way to get to the same solution. Voting present so many times tells me he did not work with others much.   He is a nice guy, but in his past, he worked with those of like mind, and in his current office, that is not possible.  I still think his actions at the joint meetings with GOP leaders seen on TV shot him in the foot as far as getting them to work with him, “he won the election” and could do things his way. and said so.  Perhaps they (the GOP) remembered that comment. I often vote for the lessor of two evils and may do that this year.

  2. Hwood007 says

    When I go to my doctor, I hope he turns medical on me.  When I look for Whitehouse leadership, I hope the office of President will turn on his leadership. My doctor is able to do his part, the current PotUS does not have the skill of leading people in easy or hard times, so he is not able to do his part  His ability to time his actions seems a lot off, he should have led in the things he did the first year in order to have time to lead with other projects in the second half of his term.  He left too much up to NP on the health bill and was given a snake with eleven feet as a medical law. There were some great ideas in that health bill, but one can not solve all problems with one bill.  He would have been great had he set down with both parties and passed several medical bills (do not say he did, the way he treated the minor party in public causes me to think he treated them less so in private.  He won the election but lost the game last term, so I hope he is replaced this coming term. His being black has nothing to do with my vote,  I have voted for a black president in the past, so spare me any racial print plus my black daughter-in-law is a Marine..  Sharon can write the about harry verse.

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