No Hope for a Progressive President

If you missed the President’s State of the Union address last week, don’t worry you were not alone. According to Nielsen ratings, the speech only garnered less than 34 million views, an all-time low for the President. Barack Obama’s address was not that interesting nor really informative. Americans figured as much and went about their daily business.

Obama made many positive remarks appealing to military nationalism and common American symbolism. He also promised a $10.10 minimum wage for new federal contract workers, which is better than most legislation the government offers. However, most of this just seems like more lip service. He boasted about ending wars which he expanded and even closed with another promise to close Gitmo.

Obama made no mention of NSA surveillance, drone warfare, the NDAA, loss of net neutrality, the prison population or climate change. These are the most controversial issues of his administration and he glazed over them to milk viewers for patriotism and loyalty. During his previous NSA speech Obama said he understands our privacy concerns but he is going to continue to spy on us. Regulations do not prevent civil liberty infringements; abolition does that job.

Recently, the Supreme Court struck down the net neutrality doctrine which allowed companies to host open and free internet content. Now, internet service providers can charge for content use meaning you may have to pay for certain You Tube videos. Also, these providers can block content from competing companies and restrict access to content provided by subsidiaries of rival conglomerates. The Internet is so interconnected that navigating it without net neutrality would be incredibly difficult.

The War on Terror encompasses more countries every year including Pakistan, Yemen, Somali, and Mali, costing heavy civilian casualties. This war tramples on the human rights of free association, free speech, right to due process, and habeas corpus. The NDAA suspends habeas corpus during wartime which, in an age of perpetual warfare, constitutes indefinite detention. Obama repeatedly appealed rulings of unconstitutionality from judges reviewing this law.

The United States is 5% of the world’s population and holds 25% of the world’s prisoners. The US jails more of its citizens than Russia, China and Iran. Most of these prisoners are disproportionately black and Latino highlighting the racial undertones of the prison industry.

The State Department recently approved construction of the Keystone XL pipeline which would bring an estimated 830,000 barrels of tar sands oil from Alberta across the United States. Although the project would create jobs, most of these would be short term and low-waged, plus release more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Obama’s administration seems willing to cooperate with Big Oil much to the chagrin of many environmentalists.

The President is not the progressive hope the Left thought he would be back in 2008. He is a center-right politician administering his policy in a manner similar to Bill Clinton. These new Democrats do not champion labor or civil liberties causes. I think it’s time for liberals to either create a new social-progressive party or create an entirely new system of politics altogether.