2017-01-10 03:45 pm (UTC)
I don't wholly agree with this. When the person at the top who comes to power is somebody very intent on giving a "bad example" in every sense, he somehow seems to give license to all those who were kept in reigns until now by conventions, political correctness, call it how you want, to break out the worst in them.
I have seen it happen in Italy.. when Berlusconi came to power, the "dark side" in every Italian - the cheating, macho, primitive part - finally saw a possibility to express itself, and express itself it did. The general social climate has gotten so much worse in those years, the country has not been the same and probably will never be again. Something is broken, obviously it is not "only" Berlusconi's fault, but he caught the collective subconscious' worst parts and made them into a physical form. Just like Hitler did with the Germans, and and and....
It's a chicken and egg thing. Did the zeitgeist produce Berlusconi or did Berlusconi produce the zeitgeist? Same with Hitler.
I'm inclined to think forces build and build within a nation and then there's an eruption- and the eruption takes the form of a leader who embodies the national id. I think such eruptions are all but inevitable.
2017-01-10 04:13 pm (UTC)
I do have these doubts too from time to time.. but I always have hope into the possibility that these forces can be somehow "dispersed" into other passions.. football, other sports, song contests, whatever.. there was a research here some time ago, stating that people who got really worked up about some team sport or other contests (watching, not necessarily participating) were much less inclined to engage into extremist political views, be they right or left. Obviously there are exceptions, as a lot of hooligans are also often inclined towards the far right, but in general I have found it to be true, as long as these contests are not about a NATIONAL thing but a team one or even a single star or feature.
Bread and Games, always the old thing....
Yes, the old Romans knew a thing or two. Channel the people's aggression into sports and entertainments and they'll not bother themselves about politics.
I am not saying you aren't mostly correct. But there is one thing you have to remember about our government - President Obama didn't govern in a vacuum,the legislative branch of the government was against him from the beginning. Almost nothing he wanted got done - except what is called "Obamacare". And I'm not exactly sure how that held on.
But your last paragraph, well, that is correct. Along with this quote: People get the government they deserve. Although, I don't know what I did to deserve Trump.
This is true. A President doesn't work in a vacuum. He's not a dictator. He's a cog in the machine of government and has to fight and wheedle and manoeuvre just like everyone else. And if he's a weak man- George W Bush for instance- he's liable to be pressured and influenced and manipulated by those around him. Besides the government of the USA is a vast, sprawling thing- and no single person could possibly comprehend and control it all. This may be paranoia talking, but I've read that a President's security clearance only goes so far up the ladder- and there are parts of government- the whole black ops dimension- to which he has absolutely no access.
Slight quibble - Obama's party held majorities in both the House and Senate in 2009-2010, which is when ACA/Obamacare was passed without any GOP support (or input, depending on which version one hears). The Democrats also held the Senate majority up until 2015. So, POTUS did have a legislative window to get his agenda passed.
Coming from the Senate, you'd think he'd have had more success maneuvering with or around Congress than he did. That'll be something for the historians to write about, when it comes to considering his legacy.
I can see your point, but I think simply dismissing Obama's eight years in office does a dis-service to the folks that really did benefit from some of the things that came through under his watch.
For example, my sister suffers from a brutal combination of lupus and narcolepsy. Pre-ACA, she went through a vicious cycle of being uninsured or underinsured due to the "pre-existing condition" tag insurance companies could slap on you. Even working regular hours and making decent money, she was 6 figures in medical debt by 24 years of age. With ACA, she signed up and never looked back. If it goes back to the way it was, she's looking at bankruptcy or death within a year or two (I'd prefer bankruptcy, myself).
Myself, I was never able to afford graduate school until Pell grants got extended under BO. Now I have the masters' degree I always wanted, and will pay back my government loans within 6 years of graduation because of the extra I'm earning.
Nevermind repealing DADT, cash for clunkers, etc.
I understand it wasn't all unicorns and rainbows like he promised (the Iran deal sucked, Gitmo never closed, government surveillance is way up, environmental progress came to a screeching halt, war rages on), but I think, given the economic and social benefits that expanded under BO, I think history will probably look pretty favorably on his tenure. Not quite Clinton/Reagan level, but probably a notch below.
Edited at 2017-01-10 05:01 pm (UTC)
It's a mixed legacy. As every legacy is. I'm not sure what G W Bush did that was worth doing but Tony Blair- who is now hated over here as Bush's willing partner in the criminal invasion of Iraq- achieved some good things domestically.
Bush's main positive international legacy was his Africa health initiatives. There's certainly many, many thousands of people in Africa who wouldn't be alive today if it weren't for PEPFAR and other humanitarian initiatives in Africa which happened under Bush. It basically stopped the AIDS catastrophe that was staring down the continent, which is probably why it doesn't get a lot of attention: stopping something from happening can look a lot like accomplishing nothing to the casual observer.
That's good. Credit where credit is due.
I'm as left-leaning as they come, and have gotten in trouble with friends for expressing a similar disappointment.
Obama received a powerful progressive mandate from the voters eight years ago, and the one thing he most needed to do -- by far -- was to preserve and strengthen that mandate. He rapidly and utterly failed in that, partially through an early lack of decisiveness, I think, and that's exactly what set the world up for Donald Trump.
Obama blew it. Perhaps he was weak, or distracted, or corrupted- or perhaps his hands were tied and it wasn't really his fault, but whatever the reason he failed his supporters.
And thereby destroyed people's faith in the ability of so-called progressive politicians to deliver anything worthwhile. And, yes, that was one of the things that made Trump possible.
Sometimes, a change of tone is welcome!