Trump is Bad, But His Predecessors Weren’t Much Better

Trump is Bad, But His Predecessors Weren't Much Better

Photo by: Courtsey of MSNBC

In the age of Trump, many liberals and moderates are clamoring for the days of Obama.
What many of them don’t realize is that issues many have with the current American government didn’t spring into existence with the election of Trump. Much of the policies we hate Trump for were actually built on the neoliberal war machine that every president since Reagan has embraced.

For example, we’ve recently seen a wave of protests and demonstrations opposing ICE, mass deportations, and the family separation policy the agency regularly engages in. While Trump gets most of the heat, Obama engaged in much of the same practices, yet where were the protests? Where was CNN when Obama had hundreds of thousands deported? Why does the left turn a blind eye to the pitfalls of a Democratic president?

A criticism of Obama is hardly possible without a critique of the system that he emerged from, the Democratic Party establishment. Where the party establishment constantly goes wrong is that they allow conservatives to set the political narrative.

Compare the Obama presidency to that of Trump’s, Obama and the Democrats constantly attempted to pass a bipartisan healthcare bill based off a conservative healthcare proposal despite having a supermajority in both houses of Congress in 2008, whereas Republicans barely have a majority in the House of Representatives in 2016 yet still unilaterally attempt to forced through conservative legislation. Why must Democrats, constantly play on the defensive, even when in power?

This weak concession on behalf of the Democrats drags the party to the right and keeps them from further embracing an actual leftist agenda. As a result, America lacks a true left wing voice in the political sphere and the Democrats become little more than Republican-lite. This is particularly true on economic issues, as the power of unions have been greatly diminished nationwide and deregulation has been embraced.

For left wing Americans, it’s important going forward that we don’t excuse bad policies of Democrats and recognize the inherent systems that enable structural violence. If we seek to fight inequality, we can’t just be satisfied with milquetoast reforms that barely pay lip service to marginalized communities under the guise of “rationality”. We need politicians who will fight to remove the inherent barriers that enable inequality in the first place.

The Obama administration promised change, but how much of that did it really deliver? Did it radically reform our criminal justice system to fight mass incarceration? Did it institute an overhaul of our economy to fight wage stagnation? Even the Affordable Care Act did little to address the issue of insurance companies artificially raising the price of medical treatments.

So how was Obama as president? Obama was a continuation of his Republican predecessors. The only thing that really separates Obama from Reagan or even Bush Jr., is the fact that he’s black and somewhat more socially progressive. Without a real progressive force in federal offices challenging our institutions, we will continue to elect politicians who are just more of the same, giving us nothing but false hope and empty rhetoric.