Much has been said about a billboard that projected an image of former President George W. Bush with the words "Do you miss me yet?" Many progressives and liberals would readily respond, "No, it is like you never left!" After all, the Bush tax cuts have been extended, corporations are still enjoying massive profits while regular citizens suffer, Gitmo remains open, still running deficits and the Patriot Act has been freshly renewed. "What is there to miss?"
Three years after campaigning and rallying around a message of hope and change, progressives now are being admonished and publicly rebuked by the very champion who promised to be the vehicle of such hope and change. Today, they "hope" that their interests do not get further sacrificed and sold out by the very candidate who "changed" his tune upon becoming President. Liberals "hope" that seniors and poor children do not face devastating "changes" in coverage and assistance because the Capitulator in Chief has bargained away their safety net in order to finance more tax cuts for the wealthiest top 2%.
If there is buyer's remorse, it does not go back to the general election but to the primary election. Many are wondering if perhaps they should have helped put significantly more than 18 million cracks in that glass ceiling. Many now wish that Hillary Clinton would have prevailed. Her reputation as a fighter and possessing a rigid back bone may have proven quite useful in rallying support and winning the fight for a viable healthcare program that included at least the public option if not a single payer plan. Would a President Hillary Clinton have stood up to the Republicans and allowed the Bush tax cuts to expire? I guess they will never know.
Instead they have had to endure with utter consternation and frustration, a President that they once held as a champion of progressive values, acquiesce and surrender to conservative stipulations on a consistent basis. After cowering and submitting to the demands of the right, he then turns and repudiates the very base that enthusiastically supported him. President Obama has become a reactionary President. He neither sets the narrative nor the agenda, instead he listens to Republican talking points and policy proposals, then seeks to endorse them with minor changes; and afterwards, publicly hails it as a great compromise.
Where is the bold leadership that was going to be transformative and change the trajectory of America? President Obama has not changed Washington. Washington has changed him. As a candidate, President Obama cited Ronald Reagan as the last transformative President. Although Reagan was Republican, he once stated that the last stand up President was Franklin D. Roosevelt. Reagan and Roosevelt had one thing in common that made them transformative. They set the agenda, owned the narrative and took their case to the people.
Progressives wish that President Obama was a transformative figure. Instead they have witnessed him fall into lock step with conservative ideology and only deviate enough to claim middle ground. Progressives wish President Obama would champion progressive ideas and articulate to the people why they make sense and should be adopted. Instead, he takes conservative sticking points off the table while readily bargaining away progressive values at every turn. Progressives wish they had elected a fighter but the audacity of hope has been replaced by the agony of wish.