It has been claimed by uncritical supporters that Obama's record in the U.S. Senate is progressive, but this is far from the truth (a fact easily verified by going to GovTrack.us and doing some homework). It is undeniable that the senator from Illinois has consistently voted to fund the Iraq war, with the sole exception being that he was shamed by Christopher Dodd of Connecticut into voting against last Summer's appropriations bill. Matt Gonzalez writes:
Since taking office in January 2005 he has voted to approve every war appropriation the Republicans have put forward, totaling over $300 billion. He also voted to confirm Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State despite her complicity in the Bush Administration's various false justifications for going to war in Iraq. Why would he vote to make one of the architects of "Operation Iraqi Liberation" the head of US foreign policy? Curiously, he lacked the courage of 13 of his colleagues who voted against her confirmation.
The senator from Illinois has been less than enthusiastic in advocating for a full withdrawal from Iraq. Obama has also, as Gonzalez points out, voted to re-authorize the USA PATRIOT Act -- one of the more heinous attacks on civil liberties in this decade -- in stark contrast to his prior work as a civil rights attorney. Somewhere along the way, Obama was either corrupted on the issue of civil liberties, or else he has been fooling people on where he actually stands from the beginning. Either way, his record on the occupation of Iraq and on civil liberties are not consistent with his rhetoric on the campaign trail.
On class action lawsuits, Gonzalez writes:
In 2005, Obama joined Republicans in passing a law dubiously called the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) that would shut down state courts as a venue to hear many class action lawsuits. Long a desired objective of large corporations and President George Bush, Obama in effect voted to deny redress in many of the courts where these kinds of cases have the best chance of surviving corporate legal challenges. Instead, it forces them into the backlogged Republican-judge dominated federal courts.
And on credit interest rates:
Obama has a way of ducking hard votes or explaining away his bad votes by trying to blame poorly-written statutes. Case in point: an amendment he voted on as part of a recent bankruptcy bill before the US Senate would have capped credit card interest rates at 30 percent. Inexplicably, Obama voted against it, although it would have been the beginning of setting these predatory lending rates under federal control. Even Senator Hillary Clinton supported it.
Are you seeing anything to suggest that Obama is a progressive, yet? I'm not. I've written about this before, but it's worth repeating: health care "reform". Given Obama's record of gutting actual health care reform in the Illinois state senate, one can't help but nod in agreement when Matt Gonzalez explains:
Obama opposed single-payer bill HR676, sponsored by Congressmen Dennis Kucinich and John Conyers in 2006, although at least 75 members of Congress supported it. Single-payer works by trying to diminish the administrative costs that comprise somewhere around one-third of every health care dollar spent, by eliminating the duplicative nature of these services. The expected $300 billion in annual savings such a system would produce would go directly to cover the uninsured and expand coverage to those who already have insurance, according to Dr. Stephanie Woolhandler, an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program.
Obama's own plan has been widely criticized for leaving health care industry administrative costs in place and for allowing millions of people to remain uninsured. "Sicko" filmmaker Michael Moore ridiculed it saying, "Obama wants the insurance companies to help us develop a new health care plan-the same companies who have created the mess in the first place."
And as Gonzalez points out, Obama went to bat for Joe LIEberman for re-election in 2006 against challenger Ned Lamont (whom blog web sites such as Daily Kos supported) and referred to the turncoat as his mentor. Yeah, real "progressive" of Obama to try to prop up a party traitor who has consistently enabled the Bush-Cheney regime at every opportunity, and who endorses Republican John McCain for president.
I realize Obama supporters don't like to read the truth about their candidate, and who can blame them? After eight years of destructive Republican policies, the desperation for some actual change -- even if it is only an illusion -- is certainly understandable. But it is because desperation can lead to making serious mistakes in an election year critical to America's future that it is important for Democrats to know exactly who it is we're prepared to hand the nomination to. Barack Obama simply is not a progressive, he's just another DINO who has somehow managed to fool a lot of people.
Hope is not lost, however. We can and should focus our efforts to get true Progressives elected to Congress, so that a (we hope) Democratic president may be pushed in the correct direction on issues such as getting out of Iraq and passing true health care reform. It's still early in the year, and we still have a chance to be the change we want to see in this country. It's not enough to simply get Democrats elected to power; the failures of the last year have proven that. We must work to get the right Democrats -- Progressive ones -- seats in the Legislature and in state offices across the country.
Only then can we expect to succeed in pushing Barack Obama, should he win the nomination and become president, to achieve actual change.
In the interests of full disclosure, BeyondChron.org reports that Gonzalez has been chosen as Ralph Nader's running mate. Which means the Nader-haters shall dismiss anything and everything he has to say, no matter that it's true. But I thought it only fair, in the interest of telling the whole truth, to let you know about this.