SCHLOSSBERG: Rally behind the president

Democrats, more often than not, do not play the game of politics correctly. While Democrats may never adopt the policies of Ronald Reagan, they should follow his golden rule of politics closely. Reagan adamantly instructed his party members to never publicly criticize another Republican. Democrats should, especially this year, live, eat, sleep and die by this rule.

Republicans and other conservatives who criticize President Obama do so for obvious reasons, and they should. Our democracy works because the parties air and debate their differences in public.

But Democrats should never publicly criticize Obama. In a year when so much is on the line, there is no room for criticism of the president from the left.

Criticizing Obama on an issue like taxes is one of the stupidest political mistakes someone can make. But last summer, Democrats lined up to blast their president for abandoning his demand to increase taxes on the wealthy in order to secure tax cuts for the middle class. Representative Pete Stark, Democrat of California, and others accused Obama of not putting up a fight.

For Pete’s sake, Pete! Obama has said he wants to raise taxes on the wealthy more times than I’ve been told Bass Library closed half an hour ago, so clearly he’s in favor of this measure. Do you really think he’s scared of losing your support? Or losing the vote of Oakland? All Stark and other Democrats accomplished by blasting Obama was to make their president and party look weak. You accomplish things by projecting strength; the president cannot look strong when members of his own party undercut him.

On the subject of immigration, several Democrats have recently thrown their party’s leader under the bus. Obama set a record number of deportations of illegal immigrants in 2011, but that fact alone is misleading. Obama has spoken in favor of and has urged Congress to pass the DREAM Act, a bill that would allow young undocumented immigrants to stay in America, their home, and achieve citizenship by going to college or serving in the military.

Representative Louis Gutierrez, Democrat of Illinois, has gone on the offensive against the president, condemning Obama for breaking up families and not working hard enough to pass the DREAM Act.

Give me a break. Of course Obama understands how important immigration is. His father was from Kenya! His father was able to come to America because of a federal program kept alive by then-Senator John Kennedy that brought Kenyans to study at universities here. Obama understands the importance of immigration to American society, so please, Congressman Gutierrez, cut him a break and help him get the Hispanic vote this fall.

My fellow Democrats, show some love for the president who stood up for you and who is the only person on the planet capable of stopping a Republican-controlled White House. Do you really think President Romney would do more to promote good, sound, liberal policies than Obama? As Joe Biden, my one true love, is fond of saying, “Compare us to the alternative, not the Almighty.”

Consider a Romney presidency. The DREAM Act would have no support from the White House, as Romney has firmly stated he doesn’t support it. The president wouldn’t be concerned with the plight of the poorest Americans. EPA funding would be slashed, and the agency would not treat carbon emissions as pollutants.

Registered Democrats vastly outnumber registered Republicans. There are roughly 71 million registered Democrats and 55 million registered Republicans. That leaves 42 million registered independents. That means that going into every presidential election, Democrats only need one-third of the independent vote to win.

But Democrats don’t win every election. Why? Because a lot of them stay home. If, instead of blasting this president for not being liberal enough, Democrats praised him for his accomplishments, maybe three million more Americans would approve of him, too, and get to the polls this fall. And if that does happen, and Obama wins, I think Democrats will be thrilled to see the president tack left, institute good policy and give Americans a reason to vote Democratic once again.

If all the Democrats in the country supported the president, he would be stronger and have more room to promote the progressive agenda. Surely these same Democrats would prefer that to a self-righteous, self-satisfied sneer that the President hasn’t done enough for the liberal cause. It’s often said that Democrats fall in love and Republicans fall in line. It’s time for Democrats to do both.

Jack Schlossberg is a freshman in Trumbull College. Contact him at john.schlossberg@yale.edu.

Comments

  • btcl

    “On the subject of immigration, several Democrats have recently thrown their party’s leader under the bus. Obama set a record number of deportations of illegal immigrants in 2011, but that fact alone is misleading. Obama has spoken in favor of and has urged Congress to pass the DREAM Act, a bill that would allow young undocumented immigrants to stay in America, their home, and achieve citizenship by going to college or serving in the military.

    Representative Louis Gutierrez, Democrat of Illinois, has gone on the offensive against the president, condemning Obama for breaking up families and not working hard enough to pass the DREAM Act.

    Give me a break. Of course Obama understands how important immigration is. His father was from Kenya! ”

    You are completely missing that the reason people criticize Obama is precisely because he says that he supports one thing and yet does another. There is no point in arguing for his intentions when his actions say something different.

  • Dedwards

    Mitt ’12!

  • bcrosby

    This is kind of gross, honestly. Sure, I get that Obama is at least a little bit better than Mitt Romney – no argument there. But the argument that in the name of partisan loyalty we should simply ignore the trampling of civil liberties, the horrific immigration record, tepid support of LGBTQ folks and labor unions, the extension of the so-called “War on Terror” into Pakistan in an unprecedented way, the sell-out to big insurance companies as part of health care reform is utterly, utterly appalling. My political loyalties and goals transcend party apparatus – is the same true for you?

    • Dedwards

      Let’s be honest, Obama has done almost nothing in office. His promises were all lackluster. He brought Chicago politics to DC (not that they weren’t there already). He captained a “welfare” stimulus that did nothing besides transfer money to China through consumer products. He attempted to use the August 2nd potential technical default of the US government as a political tool – oh, how ‘leaderly’ of him! The debt ceiling has now been raised thrice under him – each time by more than $1 trillion. Global trade has collapsed twice during his tenure, in part due companies’ reluctance to repatriate foreign earnings because they fear “windfall profit taxes” and the like that are often thrown around in his administration.

      I’ll give you one, his foreign diplomacy/relations was actually pretty good. That is, until Kim Jong Il died and he failed to make a joint statement with Premier Wen Jiabao on the state of nuclear arms in the world.

      His biggest achievement was passing the healthcare bill, which will eventually be unfunded by retroactive law because everyone realizes 1) it was a huge mistake and 2) there is no way we can afford such an ambitious socialist agenda. Also, Obama’s golf game got really good in the last couple years as well. Dude came in an 8 handicap and now he’s a scratch golfer!

      So, rally behind the President? I choose not. I’m holding out for something better.

      Mitt ’12!

      Knibb High Football Rules!

  • RexMottram08

    When it is time for current undergraduates to retire, they will laugh at their support for Obama. A man of no distinction or accomplishment who was handed the highest political office on earth based on “hope and change” would only be supported by children.

    • lvjamieson2

      Whereas you, Rex, are sooooo wise

      • RexMottram08

        I stand on the shoulders of giants.

        • lvjamieson2

          You hide that very well

          • River_Tam

            oh snap. you got him.

      • Dedwards

        25% of those aged 22-29 are unemployed. Enjoy trying to get a job Ivjamieson2!

  • Stephanie_Nichole

    Putting my own political views aside, I find the main point of your article very short-sighted. While your only goal may be to keep a democrat in the White House, I would hope that most democrats’ goal (or republican’s, for that matter) is to further the policies they deem important. Obama, or any future democratic candidate, should never feel “safe” in their ability to win the presidency simply because there are more democrats registered than republicans. This discourages innovation and hard work to win the vote. Any candidate should fear losing because it will make them work harder and be accountable for their actions in office.

    On a side note, I feel that the argument “don’t complain, it could be worse” could be used to justify any number of atrocities. Yes, things could be worse (politically speaking we could be under a dictatorship beholden to no one). But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be trying to make the current situation better.

  • River_Tam

    Argumentation aside – and I think Reagan’s first commandment does deserve serious treatment as an interesting question of politics and ideology – the writing here is so incredibly amateurish that I can’t take anything Mr. Schlossberg takes seriously.

  • mshafer

    This terrible column prompted me to finally create an account on this site so I could comment.

    Read this and tell me there’s “no room for criticism on the left” of a man responsible for the death of innocents: http://www.salon.com/2012/02/05/u_s_drones_targeting_rescuers_and_mourners/

    If you think that a man who allows for this kind of military policy deserves our full-fledged and uncritical support just because he’s nominally “on our side” in the two-party “democracy” of modern American politics, then I can’t help but conclude that your political opinions are characterized by moral bankruptcy in the name of political pragmatism, by willful blindness towards war crimes in the name of token domestic social progressivism, and by a view of politics that places coalitional power interests at home above the lives of civilians around the world. And if that’s the Democratic party you represent, then it’s a party I want no part in anymore. If we have lost the courage to imagine alternatives to this horrendous status quo, then we have lost any ability to work for justice and peace in the world.

    • grumpyalum

      Or you are just being real and that at least, at the presidential level, you have two choices. Pretending there are others is simply silly. Pretending that you legitimize it by voting for it (and that you somehow don’t by not) is also silly.

      There are two choices at the federal level. Choose. Do all you can to oppose the things you hate in things not having to do with elections or get Republicans to stop being crazy.

      • mshafer

        Why not work for a vision of American politics where we don’t have to settle like that? Even if we don’t legitimate it by our votes, we legitimate it by our lack of attention to the possibility of another world.

        • grumpyalum

          I’m not implying you shouldn’t do that! I think that’s a really really vital part of creating a country that’s actually progressive. I just think, at the presidential level, you really are stuck with one or another and non-support for one (when you are one of the politically active) is really support for the other.

          By support, I mean electoral support. I don’t mean that you should actually agree with the things that President does, just that the comparison matters.

  • JohnnyE

    It seems that Schlossberg views politics like football — pick your father’s team when young and root for them until you die, in good or bad. This is given for the general public, but I’d expect better from a Yale student.

    • lvjamieson2

      Why? Are Yale students better than the general public?

      Elitists…

      • ldffly

        They should be able to reason and write better than the average. That’s the point.

  • factuality

    Childish and simplistic. When so many students on campus are such gifted writers, why publish trash like this?

  • ms2676

    It seems Mr. Schlossberg has been drinking the Kool-Aid. Is’nt it our right to question the President on all his polices and politics? I am not 100% better off now then I was 4 years ago. The President himself said that if he did’nt tackle the economy and unemployment he is a one termer. I think at well over 8% unemployment, he might be right.

  • ElizabethGrayHenry

    “There are roughly 71 million registered Democrats and 55 million registered Republicans. That leaves 42 million registered independents.”

    What about all the states that do not register along party lines? I am probably one of the–if not THE–most partisan Republicans at Yale (not that that’s saying much), but I am not one of the 55 million “registered Republicans” merely because my home state of Mississippi has neither closed primaries nor party registration.

  • sarahm15

    “It’s not a good time to be losing Democrats,” as CJ Cregg says on The West Wing. On this point, I agree completely. When the Democratic Party fragments, the Party is perceived as weaker – as it did during the Florida primaries when the RNC released an ad revealing that the DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz knew four years ago “that Obama wasn’t up to the job,” and ending the ad with a gut-wrenching “now we all do.” The more united the Party appears, which truthfully, given the current opposition, isn’t especially difficult, the greater the turnout will be for President Obama this November.
    On the other hand, instructing Democratic leaders to never insult the leader of their Party is a mistake. The motto of the President’s re-election campaign is “Respect. Empower. Include. Win.” The Democratic Party prides itself on being inclusionary and accepting – earning support from women, LGBT voters, and immigrant and minority communities. You don’t have to believe in every aspect of the platform to be welcomed with open arms. While undoubtedly there are numerous Democrats who have certain qualms with the President, there are just as undoubtedly things upon which they agree. The Democratic Party should be emphasizing these similarities, rather than demanding tacit and half-hearted unanimity.
    From one Democrat to another, well done Mr. Schlossberg.

  • silliwin01

    This article epitomizes Yale freshmen.

  • ilovelovedontyou

    Who was this written by, an eighth grader? The thesis of this argument is over-simplistic and betrays a lack of serious comprehension of politics.

    Not only should Democrats be criticizing Obama, they should be criticizing Obama more! Not until Obama is pushed by the Left will he have the political room to move in that direction and accomplish what Democrats elected him to do. Furthermore, when the far Left actively criticizes the president, far Left meaning socialists, then the right wing’s claims of Obama’s socialism (which remain unsubstantiated) seem the more weaker!

    There is no doubt that Democrats, especially those that criticize Obama for not being progressive enough, will vote for him in 2012. That should be obvious. The question is to what extent will the Left feel the energy to canvass for Obama. The excitement of Obama’s base is dependent on his accomplishments, what he can accomplish is dependent on the support for reforms, and that support must be articulated through some form of criticism – a demand to do something or, conversely, a chastisement for not having done something.

    Look at FDR’s Presidency: he was able to enact the progressive New Deal reforms only when pushed to by the Left. He, like Obama, governed from the center, which means that others needed to pull the political spectrum to the left if they wanted to see reforms.

    If you want Obama to make more progressive changes, 1) Make your voice known (this means criticism) and 2) focus on Congressional races, which is where the real obstacle to progress lies.

    caveat: ad hominem attacks should not be made by Democrats against Obama, which I think the author would agree with. (ad hominem = personal attacks, in case the author actually is an eighth grader). But the author didn’t even distinguish between forms of criticisms at all. This article should not have been published.

  • yayasisterhood

    Two exclamation points in one article. Using an exclamation point in one’s writing is like laughing at one’s own joke.

  • ilovelovedontyou

    point taken, fitzgerald. if i were to edit that now, i would remove the exclamation points.

  • Aahutch

    The article isn’t being run in the New York Times. It’s an op-ed piece directed at college students which makes its tone perfect. Cut the kid some slack, he will get better. I’d love to see some of the writings of the people who are quick to throw barbs when they were college freshman. You know, the ones with friends.

    Oh and it is funny. No laughing (or at least smiling) while reading this article says more about your sense of humor than his writing.

  • lobstahsalad

    A profile in courage (in progress!) Very interesting to hear your thoughts at the DNC the other night. Best of luck to you, Mr. Schlossberg.

  • The Anti-Yale

    I am not going to engage in Schlossberg-bashing (which is actually vicarious Kennedy-bashing) but my eyebrow did raise at this statement:

    “But Democrats should never publicly criticize Obama. In a year when so much is on the line, there is no room for criticism of the president from the left.”

    Thank goodness I am an Independent — a real one, running for office in Vermont without spending or accepting one red cent
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Paul-Keane-Independent/355332381206168 — and don’t have to kiss the Democrats’ BEhind at the on cue from this columnist, who shall remain un-named.

    PK