Maury Castro is a longtime member of our community and a Doña Ana County Democratic Party member, leader, and neighborhood organizer from Doña Ana.
There’s an old adage that seems applicable to the current situation in Washington, D.C. that says, “with friends like these, who needs enemies?” After having been elected in the remarkable campaign of 2008, against improbable odds, and with the powerful support of an effective locally-based grassroots effort, and a historic national coalition, including an energized and idealistic base of young voters, President Barack Obama inherited what can only be described, charitably, as a chamber of horrors in our nation’s capital. Regrettably all too many of us, particularly those of us who could be described as left-of-center, have fallen into the easy trap of striking out against this administration.
Yet this president has, in fact, accepted the challenge, rolled up his sleeves, and set about the task of leading the United States out of the morass left behind by the conservative leadership of the Republican Party and George W. Bush. Fortunately for all of us he has managed to stop the bleeding, and pull the ship of state out of its immediate crisis.
Regrettably, the short-lived optimism and unrealistic expectations for a quick fix to the problems left behind brought the positive changes set in motion in 2009 to a halt in the aftermath of the 2010 mid-term elections. The entrenched banking industry, big oil, and other recipients of federal giveaways have responded to the shared challenges faced by all Americans by acting to preserve their special interests against the well being of the rest of the country, including the broad base of the middle class.
These are same special interests that caused the economic crisis in the first place. Yet since losing the White House in 2008, they have used the engine of a carefully tuned right-wing media “noise machine” to blame President Obama for the ongoing problems faced by the country. With the combined effort of conservative “think tanks,” and with spin and demagoguery; an effort that even goes so far as to stroke the ugly old flames of racism and national division, they have worked to turn the “herd” against the responsible leadership of the Obama Administration.
On our side, we often seem all too willing to unwittingly aid and abet that scurrilous right-wing crowd with a smug attitude of unconscionable apathy. We too become part of the problem when, rather than organizing in our own best interests, we walk away and resort to endless complaint, and even go so far as to fail to even bother to go out and vote, much less make the effort to hold our elected officials accountable.
To add insult to injury, those who claim to understand how the political and governmental processes work, simply react against every sound bite or strategic act in that complex process when the President finds himself in a contentious political situation. As we all should know, contention and obstruction are built into that system; obstruction that prevents the President from immediately running down the field, unimpeded by opposition, to score an easy touchdown.
When we find no easy answers after nearly a decade of mis-leadership that preceded his administration, we label the president as a sell-out, short on guts or conviction, and fail to remind of ourselves of those promises he has worked to keep, and those accomplishments he has, in fact, achieved, often against stiff odds.
Even worse, in the process, we place ourselves and our own interests in peril and bring aid to our enemies. One needs only to look to the year’s events in Wisconsin, or look at the current cast of leadership in Santa Fe, for a chilling example of what can happen when we simply walk away from the challenge and stay home on election day.
Far too many of us, and all of us should know better, simply parrot the right-wing framing of every issue that comes down the pike. I frequently shake my head in disbelief when some of my own friends, people I usually respect, come around wielding dumb political cartoon messages they get from the right-wing media machine. But unfortunately, as the saying goes, repeat the lie often enough and it starts to look like the truth.
We’ve come way too far to turn back now. I caution all of us to make the effort to dig out the actual facts, and get back to supporting the forward effort of the president and, above all, cut him some slack. Considering how far we come from where we were only three years ago, he deserves at least that much.