Our Readers and the Obama Promise
The “Obama at One” issue [Feb. 1] shows exactly why progressives are at a disadvantage. The divergent, even contradictory, positions expressed reflect a movement in disarray. Meanwhile, conservatives remain a unified juggernaut. Congressional Republicans are in near-total opposition at every turn. On the left, by contrast, we see division. Perhaps such diversity of opinion reflects an orientation that fosters intellectual diversity. As good as that is, it suggests that energy is being spent in internecine quarreling.
MARK D. MAROTTA
Scotts Valley, Calif.
Bernie Sanders’s ideas are all good, but they don’t address what got Obama elected: he offered hope for change, and then nothing changed. The crooks and lobbyists still run Washington; Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld’s unconstitutional practices are still in effect; we are still bleeding treasure and lives in the Middle East; the insurance industry still controls healthcare. Real change would consist of a flat-out progressive offensive that reversed every practice visited upon the nation since the Republican revolution; rolled out Medicare for all; reinstated the Wagner Act, Glass-Steagall, usury laws and a full-blown replica of the WPA! That would give the GOP and the Blue Dogs something to scream about and give the people who had hope in ’08 something to work and vote for. And it might save the Obama presidency.
HOWARD F. SOSBEE
In his assessment of Obama’s first year, Ariel Dorfman cites the “woeful mishandling of the Honduras coup.” The coup was not mishandled. Clearly Obama did not want the democratically elected president, Manuel Zelaya, back in power. Obama’s handling of the coup was not a case of incompetence but one of successful policy implementation.
Your issue on Obama’s first year only hinted at its most basic lesson: our anachronistic system is bankrupt. In any other democracy, an executive with Obama’s skills and sizable majorities would already have passed healthcare reform, climate change laws and banking regulation. The source of Obama’s failure is our eighteenth-century government, crafted by men deeply skeptical of democracy. The Senate discriminates against voters in the populous states. The Electoral College is a quaint leftover. The Supreme Court is more powerful than its foreign peers. Our constitutional amendment procedures are the most rigid on the planet. At every juncture, well-organized obstructionists can block legislation. Our system places undue burdens on those who seek reform while privileging defenders of the status quo. Your writers should not blame Obama but an obsolescent system badly in need of an overhaul. We elected a pretty decent new president last year. Now we need a new democracy.