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When Will We See Change?

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When will we see Change? A Critical look at Barack Obama and the democratic party.

Charles Kerber POLS 202 9AM American Government Livingston

This paper will take a critical look at the history of the democratic party, its most recent 2012 election, its current presidential candidate Barack Obama, and the latest platform. While the paper may read as being highly critical of President Obama, it should be caveated by the fact that this is an extremely trying time in the history of the United States, and the government is under considerable pressures from outside terrorism threats and international relations, to severe recession and domestic economic concerns. Nevertheless, one must look critically at President Obama, and answer has he really given us “change we can believe in”?

Biography & history The Democratic party went through a number of iterations before it became the current democratic party. The party began as the anti federalists under the leadership of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Thomas Jefferson a former secretary of state under George Washington's administration who had resigned to protest the fiscal policies of Alexander Hamilton. These two rivals would become the basis of the first two political parties of the United States. Alexander Hamilton favored the constitution, the creation of a national bank and repayment of the revolutionary war debt with federal funds. Under this philosophy they would name themselves Federalists, for their leaders support of ratifying the constitution. Jefferson, Madison and their supporters opposed these policies, including ratification, and took the name the “Anti­Federalists”. Later by the 1790s, the anti­federalists began calling themselves "Republicans, or Democratic­Republicans, terms that had become popular after the French Revolution in 1789" (Dye 208). The Democratic­Republicans gained historic significance following the election of 1800 when they successfully won the presidency and power passed from the Federalist party to them. At this time the party tended to represent the interests of farmers, both plantation owners

and smaller farms. So successful were they following this election that they crushed the Federalist party out of existence, and dominated American politics as the single party until the election of 1824. At this time splits between 2 of the leaders in the party John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson broke the party into separate groups. Jackson founded a new party the Democratic Party while his opponents formed the Whig Party. The Whigs and Democrats would continue to vie for national power until the Civil War. At this time in 1854 the Republican Party formed, opposing slavery and its spread into the new western territories. Following the Civil war two parties emerged; the Republican party that tended to represent the northern industrial economy, and the Democratic party which represented a struggling southern agrarian economy. Following the defeat of the south in the civil war, political support for the democrats was significantly weakened, the democrats lost every election from 1860 to 1912 with the exception of two by Grover Cleveland. Not until 1912 did the democrats regain the presidency under Woodrow Wilson for two terms. With the stock market crash of 1929 and the following Great Depression, Americans turned the eyes away from the “party of prosperity promises” to the democratic party candidate Herbert hoover, "who promised the country a New Deal" (Dye 212). This was a time of great change among party alignments in American politics. A "New Deal Democratic Coalition" (Dye 21) formed consisting of; working class/union members, white ethnic groups, Catholics and Jews, African Americans, The poor, Southern Whites. The parties pro government solution policies would continue under Harry Truman's “Fair Deal”, Lyndon Johnson's “Great Society”, and John F. Kennedy's “New Frontier”. By the 1960's the party underwent great turmoil "as a result of both the civil rights revolution at home and an unpopular war in Vietnam" (Dye 213). As a result of Lyndon Johnson not seeking re election, the party was plunged into chaos and infighting. The party's candidate George McGovern was soundly defeated by Richard Nixon of the Republicans. The party was

negatively painted as being the party of anti­war, feminist, civil rights advocates, and liberal activists. The democrats would lose power in the 80s to a dominant Reagan Republican Coalition. With a senate majority and democratic conservatives frequently joining him to vote with Republicans, much of Reagan's agenda was passed. During these years the democratic party had an unpopular image as being beholden to special interest groups. As more middle class and working class voters sided with the GOP, the Democratic party base continually became more liberal and left leaning, which had the effect of further eroding its ability to obtain majority support in elections. They did however maintain control of the house and would win the senate majority in 1986. During the 80's the democratic party rebuilt itself under the leadership of former governor of Arkansas Bill Clinton. By 1992 with an ailing economy Clinton was ready to unseat George H.W. Bush. Clinton would seek a moderate support base to win the election, but quickly reverted to more liberal leanings once in office. By 1994 the republican tidal wave hit. Capturing both the house and the senate, and the majority of governorships. But failure of GOP leadership to capitalize on these gains set the stage for a Clinton re election. Following Clinton, the nation would favor the republican candidates who appeared to be stronger on terrorism and security than Democrats. That would eventually sour as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continued to claim the lives of US soldiers, and seemed to drag on with no end in sight. Add to this a crippled failing economy under Bush and the table was set for Democrats to sweep the house and senate and gain the presidency under Barack Obama. This democratic control would not last for long however, as American voters grew unhappy with the Obama’s lack of progress in the economy, and by 2010 the GOP came smashing back as they took control of the house and increased numbers in the senate.

The Democratic Party Platform “Moving America Forward”: What follows is the democratic party platform for the 2012 election taken from the democratic party website, subtitles are emphasis mine. Economy: REBUILDING MIDDLE CLASS SECURITY a. Putting Americans Back to Work b. The Middle Class Bargain c. Cutting Waste, Reducing the Deficit, Asking All to Pay Their Fair Share d. Economy Built to Last ● AMERICA WORKS WHEN EVERYONE PLAYS BY THE SAME RULES a. Wall Street Reform b. 21st Century Government: Transparent and Accountable c. Lobbying Reform and Campaign Finance Reform Legislative Reform: ● GREATER TOGETHER a. Strengthening the American Community b. Protecting Rights and Freedoms c. Ensuring Safety and Quality of Life Defense: ● STRONGER IN THE WORLD, SAFER AND MORE SECURE AT HOME a. Responsibly Ending the War in Iraq b. Disrupting, Dismantling, and Defeating Al­Qaeda c. Responsibly Ending the War in Afghanistan d. Preventing the Spread and Use of Nuclear Weapons e. Countering Emerging Threats f. Strengthening Alliances, Expanding Partnerships, and Reinvigorating International Institutions g. Promoting Global Prosperity and Development h. Maintaining the Strongest Military in the World i. Advancing Universal Values

Criticism of the candidate: The platform has been bulleted, and a discussion of the party and candidates weaknesses on the issues follows. Probably the largest criticism of Barack Obama is that hes heavy on

rhetoric, and thin and vague on detail. While it may be a criticism to the politically insightful seeking substance, it is however a proven successful strategy. The frenzied masses seem to be more interested in hearing 20 second sound bites that chorus off some punchline, then on finding real answers and serious solutions. The American public's response seems to be we want to know that you're going to fix things, don't tell us how you're going to do it, were too busy dealing with our own lives. The rub here is were more likely to elect charismatic leaders, then effective ones. Barack while being a very talented orator, lacks greatness. 2008 marked a very serious tipping point in American affairs. The economy stood on a precipice as sub prime loans and the real estate market imploded, banks and investment banks were being crushed under the weight of their own unknown debt exposure and their commitments to CDO's and derivatives. Seemingly ready to fall like dominoes without intervention by the Federal government, the finance giants, the auto industry, and the financial titans of wall street following in the wake of the Lehman collapse held a gun to the head of the American people, saying for all intents and purposes, your money or your life (Hufington Post) . If we fall, you all fall. And lets not forget a protracted war in Iraq, a nebulous Al Qaeda with the ghost Osama bin Laden at its head, seemingly impossible for us to find despite the billions spent to thwart them and crush the head of this snake. This is not a time for finding an "OK" leader, or someone thats average. We stood at a time in history that we needed a champion. While it maybe be a boon for our foreign relations and national appeal that America elected its first African American President, what America needed was "real change". What we got was more of the same. In fairness the republican candidates aren't spectacular either, and while John McCain may have presented a more staunch stance on Terrorism and defense, it was not a solid direction to go in. This election was not one that one should have to pick a "lesser of two evils". So how must we judge Obama? We can judge him in the light of two outcomes. History, and promises kept. Lets examine his campaign promises of 2012. Since 2012 was the

most recent election, it would not be realistic to judge him on whether he has kept those promises yet as he has scarcely had time to begin work. That would be true of course if that was his first term. But its not his first term, its his second. And many of the campaign promises of 2008 have been rolled over to 2012. Let examine the platform it can be broken down into:

● ● ● ● ● ● ●

Taxes and the Economy. Support abortion rights/planned parenthood funding Gay Marriage Immigration Reform Medicare Healthcare Plans Defense

Taxes and the economy ­ The lack of serious substance in Obama's tax plans beyond a call to "soak the rich" is frustrating. According to Jim Mctague writing for Barrons magazine he does make promises to extend the middle class tax cuts put into effect under Bush, whether those will be permanent or not remains to be seen (Mctague). Additionally the about face on corporate tax reduction is new territory for the democratic party. With job numbers abysmal (yet another Obama failure) it doesn't seem to be the season to beat up on corporations.

Supporting Abortion rights and planned Parenthood funding ­

Not much to complain about here, Obama is still towing the line on the politically expedient support of Abortion rights and Roe V. Wade. According to Jeremy Peters of the New York Times, this probably helped hamstring Romney's election chances when he chose to make the unpopular decision that if elected he would pull support for planned parenthood, and possibly seek to undermine Roe V. Wade (Peters).

Gay Marriage. Beyond coming out saying that he was in support of Gay marriage, we haven't really seen anything from the white house in terms of practical application. It seems that this is a choice that will be left up to states to decide, and probably ultimately for the Supreme Court to endorse. It will be interesting to see what the court does in response to the defense of marriage act, and the states thumbing their noses at the law, according to Stephanie Condon of CBS News the justices met last month to decide the fate of 10 cases tied this issue (Condon). Additionally most Americans seem to support gay marriage, so popular pressure beyond the special interest groups should increasingly spotlight the topic. Obama did take some political risk by standing up for Gay marriage just prior to the election, but those words won't likely be backed with any action any time soon.

Immigration Reform: According to Matt Sledge writting for the huffington post: "One of the cleanest shots Mitt Romney scored on Barack Obama on Tuesday night was over the president's promise, made during the 2008 campaign, to have an immigration bill introduced in his first year in office."He said in his first year he'd put out an immigration plan that would deal with our immigration challenges," Romney pointed out (Sledge).

This was a clear gut shot Romney made during the campaign as Obama hasn't even introduced one. Perhaps it was his faith in waiting on congressional members to craft the legislation? Its not likely that senate Republicans will be helpful if their defeat of the 2010 dream act is any indication. Hes going to need to spearhead legislation here if he wants to see real change happen.

Medicare: According to Ricardo Alonso­Zaldivar of the Huffington Post, Obama's plan won't entail vouchers like those proposed by Romney, but make no mistake Medicare needs reform before it becomes financially disastrous for the US (Alonso­Zaldivar). Its already a huge chunk of the US annual budget. You can expect rates and fees to increase under Obama, a fact that he skillfully avoided discussing during the election, less the wrath of senior citizens descend upon him. I suppose the fear of a complete rebuild of Medicare sent seniors running to support Obama vs take a chance on Romney's ideas.

Health Care plans: Probably one of the things that actually contributed the most to Obama's lack of success and ultimately to the 2010 losses in congress is his death grip on reforming health care. Under Rom Emanuel Obama lunged into healthcare reform as the number one task following his 2008 election. Even with democratic control of the house and the senate for 2 years, he found out the hard way that its hard to fight the entrenched self interest groups. The insurance and drug companies lobby groups are not to be trifled with. What we end up with at the end of Obama care is no public option and a public that mostly favors it being completely repealed according to Nina Owarchenko writing for the Heritage Network Obama faces an uphill battle to keep what remains of his original idea intact (Owarchenko).

Defense ­ Probably one of the things that i was most looking forward to under Obama was his promise to close down Guantanamo Bay prison, to right some of the civil rights thefts stripped from us under the Patriot Act, and to see us make an orderly and effective redeployment from Iraq and Afghanistan. To date, we have not seen Guantanamo Bay closed, but rather it continues to be used today. Its not the only out of country prison system, the government continues to operate hundreds of clandestine prisons overseas. The patriot act has not been repealed, but is rather key provisions have been extended on May 26, 2011 by congress. According to the ACLU "Despite the many amendments to these laws since 9/11, congress and the public have yet to receive real information about how these powerful tools are being used to collect information on Americans and how that information is being used" ( Its important to note that the number one priority of defense in the world today is anti­terrorism, and Obama did successfully kill Osama bin Laden. Long overdue, but mission Accomplished.

The democratic party has come a long ways since its early days under Thomas Jefferson. Its primary supporters have changed over the years, it can be said to have birthed its rival the Republican Party, and what was once primarily a conservative party, is now quite the opposite a liberal one. In today's political climate a more centrist movement is at hand, and the successful party’s candidates will campaign on a more moderate approach. Disillusionment by the electorate with the ineffectiveness of the government to get things accomplished will fuel more pressure to forge bipartisan support for issues, and to accomplish tangible results that can be triumphed to the public. President Obama is representative of some of the democrats most liberal desires such as universal health care, while being more progressive in affairs such as anti­terrorism and defense. While his 2008 campaign focused on change we can believe in, we

haven't really seen many of the changes that were promised, and that looks like more of what the American public is getting used to; failed campaign promises. In 2012 Obama was reelected to another term, but after the campaign dust settles, it feels a lot like hey, hang in there, we didn't get it last time, but just hang on we'll get it this next time. One thing is clear, Obama will get another 4 years to “move America forward”.

Works Cited "2012 Presidential Candidate Positions on 75 Issues ­ 2012 Presidential Election ­" 2012 Presidential Candidate Positions on 75 Issues ­ 2012 Presidential Election ­ Pro, 31 Oct. 2012. Web. 01 Dec. 2012. . "American Civil Liberties Union." American Civil Liberties Union. American Civil Liberties Union, n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2012. . "American Experience: TV's Most­watched History Series." PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2012. . "Barack Obama." Obama for America. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2012. . "Barack Obama on the Issues." Barack Obama on the Issues. On the, n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2012. . Berman, Jillian. "Lehman Docs Show Wall Street Arrogance Led To Financial Collapse." The Huffington Post., 07 May 2012. Web. 01 Dec. 2012. . "Campaign 2012: Data and Analysis about the 2012 Presidential Election | Pew Research Center for the People and the Press." Pew Research Center for the People and the Press RSS. Pew Research Center, n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2012. . Condon, Stephanie. "Will the Supreme Court Weigh in on Same Sex Mairrage." CBS.COM. CBS NEWS, 30 Nov. 2012. Web. 1 Dec. 2012. .

"The Democratic Party's 2012 Platform." Detroit Free Press. Detroit Free Press, 5 Sept. 2012. Web. 04 Dec. 2012. . "DNC Recycles 4­year­old Promises for Obama's 2012 Platform â RT." DNC Recycles 4­year­old Promises for Obama's 2012 Platform â RT. RT.COM, 4 Sept. 2012. Web. 04 Dec. 2012. . Dye, Thomas R. Politics in America. Ninth ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2010. Print. "Election Results." The Huffington Post. The Huffington Post, n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2012. . Gentilviso, Chris. "Obama Medicare Plan: No Voucher But Maybe A Bill." The Huffington Post., 23 Sept. 2012. Web. 04 Dec. 2012. . McTague, Jim. "Obama's Platform and Taxes." The Democrats' Platform on Taxes. Barrons, 8 Sept. 2012. Web. 01 Dec. 2012. . "Moving America Forward." The Democratic National Comittee, n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2012. . Owarchenko, Nina. "Obamacare: The Battle Intensifies." The Foundry Conservative Policy News Blog from The Heritage Foundation. The Heritage Network, 8 Nov. 2012. Web. 01 Dec. 2012. . Peters, Jeremy W. "THE AD CAMPAIGN; Romney Clarifies Abortion Stance." The New York Times. The New York Times, 18 Oct. 2012. Web. 01 Dec. 2012. . Sledge, Matt. "Obama Failed On Immigration Reform, But He Wasn't Getting Any Republican Help, Either." The Huffington Post., 17 Oct. 2012. Web. 04 Dec. 2012. .

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How Does Cinematography Create Meaning in an Extract from ‘Source Code’? (Directed by Duncan Jones – 2011)

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