Speaking at a progressive media summit, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) called it a "tragic mistake" that the White House fruitlessly chased Republican votes on health care rather than take advantage of the ripe environment to pass legislation.
"What is very sad is we had hopes that [the] election was transformational in the sense of bringing people into the political process who have never been in it before," Sanders said. "I tried very hard in Vermont to bring young people into the political process. It is very hard to do. Obama did it. But you know where those young people are now? They are not in the political process. They really aren't. We have lost them. We have antagonized trade unionists. We have not done well with seniors. I don't think we have done well with women. And I think that was a tragic mistake."
As one of those young people that came out in support of Barack Obama and even volunteered some time into the local campaign office, I am disappointed in the President, to an extent. We were promised numerous changes going into his presidency - meaningful health care reform, getting tougher on the banks, more accountability and transparency in government, to name a few. What are we seeing right now?
Wall Street is still wasting the very same taxpayer's money that we gave them to save their asses back in October of 2008. Men like Ben Bernanke and Tim Geithner, the same people who helped engineer the financial disaster, head up Obama's economic team because of the knowledge of how the private sector works. Health care reform has been most disappointing for me and for many progressives. Instead of pushing for meaningful reform, Obama decided to push for bipartisanship for the sake of bipartisanship, when from the beginning, the Republicans made the cynical and political bet to oppose the bill in attempt to damage him. Democrats in Congress, after making huge gains in 2006 and 2008, still and play the victim to the GOP bully-boy tactics, instead of standing up and start swinging back. They still haven't learned that self-defense isn't the same thing in engaging in tit-for-tat pettishness that infests the damn town - its necessary to show that you're willing to fight for your beliefs in the face of vicious opposition
Still, despite the mishaps and false starts, I still stand behind our president. I understand that the challenges we face won't be solved overnight, and that the status quo won't fold without a fight. Those of us who still believe the challenges we face are much bigger than to fall back into the familiar mood cynicism we hold about politics and the democratic process, self-serving it may become a good portion of the time, we must not throw into the towel and say, 'fuck it, nothing's going to change, they're all a bunch of corrupt assholes'.
Apathy isn't going to create jobs, or get us universal health care, or pass the climate change bill that's still sitting in limbo in the Senate. Getting up and showing the President that we're still in the fight with him and holding him accountable for his campaign promises - those are the steps that will get us one step closer to bringing the change we want to see in the United States.