I voted for Obama but had no illusions, unlike so many on the far left. I never expected nor wanted him to govern from the left. Most people like myself who voted for him wanted the end of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the end of the policy of torture, and we wanted Guantánamo Bay Prison closed, and we wanted the honor of our nation restored internationally.
I also, quite honestly, was thrilled at having the opportunity to vote for the first African-American President. I was born in 1950, four years before the Brown vs. Board of Education decision by the US Supreme Court, and remember separate drinking fountains for blacks. I grew up during the time of the courageous Rosa Parks and the valiant Martin Luther King, and as a young man was a part of the civil rights movement.
I did not vote for America taking over the healthcare system, buying auto companies, bailing out the banks, or for socialism. I am a Democrat who believes in universal healthcare but not a healthcare bill where votes are purchased in the Senate and House by giving citizens in some states benefits other citizens are not receiving, taxing medical device manufacturers, imposing a 40 percent "Cadillac" tax on self-employed people like myself (but not members of unions!) who struggle to pay their monthly insurance premium, and a healthcare bill that does nothing to address cigarette smoking and obesity, which lead to diabetes, heart disease, and strokes and take the lives of more Americans every week than we have lost in Iraq and Afghanistan in seven years.
Like Bush and Cheney in 2000, Obama thought he had a mandate to tilt the country his way. Bush and Cheney incorrectly felt they had a right to turn the country sharply right and Obama, also incorrectly, thought he had the right to turn the country sharply left. Most Americans are middle-of-the-road centrists. They are not right or left. They are not for torture, but want to feel their government is doing everything possible to keep them safe. They are for keeping abortion legal, but not happy about the number of abortions in America every year, and they are for universal healthcare but not if the federal government runs the system.
Love him or hate him, Bill Clinton became a great president when he governed as a centrist and got a great many things done when he moved to the center. Obama has plenty of time left in his presidency to right the ship of atate and become a great president, but he must do so by not trying to impose a leftist platform on the country. We can still be safe and secure, have universal and meaningful health care reform, a sound energy policy, and economic reform with teeth by doing these things in a bipartisan manner. The diehards on the left may abhor Obama's veering to the center, but if results are what you want and you want true healthcare reform, a clean and green energy policy, and to make sure another economic disaster worse than the one we are going through now does not happen, then governing as a centrist and reaching out to moderates on both sides of the aisle is the best path to success.
Mark Jeffery Koch
Cherry Hill, NJ
Jan 27 2010 - 11:01am