As the November general elections draw near, voters will be tempted more and more by partisan politics and honey-dipped speeches. Conservatives once disgusted with the Bush legacy will find themselves “liking” Mitt Romney on Facebook while Obama’s conveniently-timed verbal support of gay marriage will have liberals forgetting his illegal wars and pro-corporate policies. In the spirit of this election fog and historical amnesia, here's a review of President Obama’s track record, showing the top five reasons he's not a liberal:
1) Perpetual War, Perpetual Peace
In 2008, Senator Obama ran as a “just war” candidate – promising to end the war in Iraq and “the mind-set that got us into war in the first place.” While the president did bring home U.S. troops from Iraq, he replaced them with a small army of private contractors, a large CIA presence, tens of thousands of State Department employees, and the world’s largest U.S. embassy.
But more important is the psychological shift the president has created in American foreign policy. Under the Bush Doctrine, Americans were told that in order to keep us safe, the president must be able to engage in pre-emptive warfare; striking the enemy before they strike us. America didn’t need to wait for foreign aggression when 9/11 would serve as a blanket justification for a global “war on terror.” But our current president has taken the “war on terror” one step further with his advocacy of the “humanitarian war.”
When Obama took office, the U.S. was involved in two illegal, undeclared wars: Iraq and Afghanistan. Since then, the U.S. has increased its troop presence in Africa, waged a bombing campaign against Libya, is waging convert drone wars in Pakistan and Yemen, and has supported the toppling of some brutal Arab regimes while propping up others. And despite what Mitt Romney and his VP pick want you to think, Obama has actually increased the defense budget.
2) Welcome to America, Now Git!
Conservatives love to paint Obama as “weak” on immigration issues, labeling him pro-amnesty and pro-illegal immigration. But the truth is the Obama administration may turn out to be the toughest on immigrants in recent U.S. history. Since taking office in 2008, the administration has deported more than 1.4 million undocumented immigrants. On average, Obama has deported 32,886 per month while President George W. Bush deported an average of 20,964 per month and President Bill Clinton 9,059 per month. Conservatives are also decrying the president’s recent directive to temporarily defer deportation of some young immigrants – calling it an executive order granting amnesty to illegal immigrant youth. While Obama has come out in the past in support of the DREAM Act, his recent announcement is nothing more than an executive directive to DHS to exercise discretion to grant up to two years deferred action to qualified immigrant youth. The directive is without teeth, as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) still holds the authority on deportation determination, not the President. Obama’s directive looks more like a politically expedient gesture than real immigration policy change.
3) Insurance for Insurance Providers
While liberals are hailing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as the greatest thing since the New Deal, conservatives are decrying it as an attempt at communist control of our lives. Perhaps both are wrong. In 2008, Obama ran as a proponent of single-payer health care. But instead of affordable public health insurance, what voters got was more private-control over their lives. Soon, Americans will be required to purchase health insurance from private companies – a move that the president says will lower the cost of health care overall. And while the PPACA dictates what and who insurance companies must cover while attempting to regulate costs, it falls pathetically short of providing affordable healthcare. What it does is move us away from a public option and toward more privatization. The real winners of Obamacare? Big Pharma, MDs, and the insurance industry.
4) Bang, You’re Dead!
Due process has been axed under the Obama administration; at least for some of the accused. Even ‘ole Bushy boy afforded his suspects some tissue paper-thin legal rights. He’d capture you, torture you, and then try you in one of his kangaroo courts. But President Obama doesn’t have time for such silly legalities. Instead, he has top-secret counter terrorism meetings every Tuesday where he reviews his “kill list” and nominates suspected terrorists to be off’d. The list often includes under-age persons and American citizens. In fact, the president has already killed three American citizens suspected of terrorism via drone strikes: 40-year-old Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, along with 25-year-old magazine editor, Samir Khan.
5) Corporate Love and Lovers
The Obama administration loves to position itself as the “David” fighting against the “Goliath” that is big-business – but nothing could be further from the truth. Since his time in office, Obama has supported continuing corporate welfare and done nothing to really regulate the financial industries or prosecute Wall Street. He has opened up huge expanses of ocean to drilling on the Atlantic coastline and the eastern Gulf of Mexico and opened up more drilling in the Arctic. The “hope and change” candidate has kowtowed to corporations in a way that would make Bush blush, appointing corporate-capitalists to positions of political power (as if former Central Banker Timothy Geithner were going to hold his banker buddies accountable). Perhaps the most appalling of all of Obama’s neoliberal moves is his recent secretive negotiations with international corporations to craft the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP trashes America’s sovereignty by allowing foreign corporations to appeal key U.S. regulations to an international tribunal and to override U.S. law and to sue the United Sates if it does not comply. More and more, President Obama is revealing himself to be a president by and for the corporations.