“Why isn’t there more outrage about the president’s unilateral targeted assassination program on the left?”–That’s the subheadline of a piece written by Joan Walsh for Salon.com in which she tries to address the question of why Obama’s supporters don’t call him out for actions they would have excoriated a Republican president for.
Walsh dances around the answer while avoiding stating it outright: most of Obama’s supporters are so caught up in the “Obama as liberal savior” narrative that they will blindly support him regardless of what he does.
During the Bush administration–particularily in his second term–to hear liberals talk you would have thought that the United States was on the brink of becoming a fascist state. Liberals were constantly calling Bush a “Nazi” and comparing him to Hitler (I’m not saying these comparisons were unwarranted, mind you).
So why is it that when the Obama administration mounts an even greater assault on our civil liberties than Bush did, most liberals look the other way?
Why aren’t liberals more outraged when Obama deports a record number of illegal immigrants, increases warrantless electronic survelliance, expands medical marijuana raids on legally authorized providors despite promising not to do so, asserts the power to kill American citizens without a trial, and, worst of all, orders drone strikes that have killed hundreds of civilians including children?
Because Obama is on their team. He’s a liberal Democrat. He’s black. He’s from Chicago. He supports same-sex marriage. He’s friends with Jay-Z and Beyoncé!
And…he’s worse than Bush. I wish more liberals would forget about what party the president belongs to and just apply the same standards to all persons of authority. If they would have criticized Bush for doing it, they should criticize Obama as well.
I don’t harbor any dreams that Obama’s awful record on civil liberties will convert any liberals to libertarianism. What I would like to see though is liberals and libertarians (and conservatives and moderates) uniting on common causes, like opposition to drone strikes or the targeted killing of American citizens.
If we can all unite as Americans and put our feet down and say “this is unacceptable”, maybe we can bring about some real change, but that will only happen if liberals can wake up and realize that the difference between Barack Obama and George W. Bush is only skin-deep.
(P.S. To be fair, not all liberals have let Obama off the hook: Glenn Greenwald has been a consistent critic of the administration’s unconstitutional policies, and the left-wing site Alternet hasn’t backed down from criticizing Obama either).