Don't ever fall in love with a politician...

This isn't advice from Elizabeth Edwards, but a more practical commentary applicable to all Americans.

Progressives are right now trying to process their feelings about President Obama's going back on his campaign promise to not cut taxes on billionaires.

Last year we were trying to deal with the discovery that he'd not only gone back on his campaign promise - or implied promise - of a public option, but that he'd given it away even before the Senate began negotiating the bill.

And ditto for Medicare negotiating drug prices.

The five stages of ending a relationship are pretty much identical to the famous five stages of death and dying identified by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.

They go from denial to anger to bargaining to depression to acceptance.

The majority of American voters don't consider themselves strong liberals or conservatives, and thus don't "fall in love" with the politicians they vote for.

They just figure they're voting for a politician - what the heck - and probably the lesser of two evils.

But conservatives fell in love with George W. Bush, and liberals fell in love with Barack Obama.

Today it's hard to find a conservative who'll defend Bush's illegal wars or doubling of the national debt.

And increasingly it's getting hard to find liberals who aren't in some stage of grieving shock as Obama participates in compromise - what some would call sellout - after compromise.

What we all need to realize is that Obama - like Bush - is just a politican.

He doesn't walk on water, and while he has a political compass, he's more driven by pragmatism than ideology.
He's not our progressive saviour.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't support him or work for his election.
If nothing else, the Supreme Court - the most powerful branch of government - is on the line.

But more important, instead of being elated and then depressed every time a new issue is put on Obama's plate - progressives will see better results investing their physical and emotional energy in movement politics - working with grass roots groups like Tim Carpenter's Progressive Democrats of America, or Howard and Jim Dean's Democracy For America.

Movement politics have been the bedrock of political change in this country since its founding, and continue to be.
Politicians come and go, but movements last.

Don't fall in love, and don't get angry if you feel spurned by your candidate.

Instead, get active.


Free Thinker's picture
Free Thinker 13 years 27 weeks ago

Don't know if this is the right place to post this, but I can't begin to express how angry I am at Thom's last guest's appalling lack of empathy for another human being! The longer I live in this country, that many, if not most evangelical Christians claim, was based upon God, the more I am repulsed by that entire group of individuals. Based on the guest's reference to "this one woman's sob story", I can also in that same vein say, that Christianity, in it's entirety is solely based on the sob story of a nobody named Jesus!

Bullhorn Journal's picture
Bullhorn Journal 13 years 27 weeks ago

Thom, we need to start calling these people 'neo-patriots'. They've turned the idea around, now patriotism is 'What's good for me is good for my country' not 'What's good for my country is good for me.'

Mary Pietrzak's picture
Mary Pietrzak 13 years 27 weeks ago

Thom, Is it possible for you to interview Chris Hedges who recently released a book entitled The Death of the Liberal Class. He says the same thing as you - that change only comes through movements not political parties. He will be protesting in front of the White House on December 16th along with others to end the war. If possible, maybe you could contact him while he is in Washington this week. He has changed my whole view on politics and what this country is head to if we do not start organizing and creating movements.

Mary Pietrzak's picture
Mary Pietrzak 13 years 27 weeks ago

Thom, St. Augustine said: "Hope has two beautiful daughters - one is anger and the other is courage. Anger at what is wrong and courage to change what is wrong."

gerald's picture
gerald 13 years 27 weeks ago

Free Thinker, shortly after Bush was in office and callers would talk to a conservative crazy about real problems the crazy would say to the person to take a prozac pill.

gerald's picture
gerald 13 years 27 weeks ago

Mary Pietrzak, thank you for the great quote!!!

WhiteBear's picture
WhiteBear 13 years 27 weeks ago

Thom, your daily argument that we must re-elect Barack Obama is desperately illogical and unjustifiable. The man is unworthy of our support and I can't wait till he is gone. He has sold out on every major issue and his policies are little different than those of the Bush/Cheney régime. The despicable backdoor tax deal with the Republicans is just the latest example.

He has morphed from the transformational leader that promised change into a feckless coward who has betrayed the very spirit of his election campaign.

At the Democratic Convention in his acceptance speech Obama roared "Tonight, I say to the American people, to Democrats and Republicans and Independents across this great land - enough!"

Instead of ENOUGH of we go MORE of :

Endless Illegal and immoral war

Mass murder


special rendition and torture

"Patriot" Act and political repression at home

Bailouts for Banksters and tax breaks for the rich

Neo-Con/Militarist/Zionist policies

and $Billions$ more for the Pentagon while the people starve and the cities crumble.

And that's just the short list.

Give it up Thom. Obama is a fraud. The country needs to get rid of him as soon as possible.

meb645 13 years 27 weeks ago

Mary Pietrzak, Thom did an extensive interview (about 1 hour) with Chris Hedges on 9 November and replayed it around Thanksgiving. I share your enthusiasm for him, and I, too, love would to hear more of him!

angelproductions's picture
angelproductions 13 years 27 weeks ago

I am active many ways... Thom taught me about "framing" the conversation, so I call in to conservative radio shows and among other things use the following framing, which, of course, I highly reccomend:


Not "THE government" but "OUR" government… the “cons” have made our democracy driven government THE ENEMY that should be feared (Reagan) and “drowned” (Norquist). We need to take OUR government back by, at the least, referring to it that way.

Example: Public Option Healthcare is “American citizens” run Health Care (not “the” government run)


Somehow “global warming” has been changed to “climate change”. This is not just “a change”. It is a “threat”. In two ways. Human impact is “threatening” the stability of earth’s environment AND in turn the instability of the environment threatens the ability of humans to live life as we know it. Our current situation should be referred to as

“Climate Threat”


- when referring to “free” healthcare and education in other countries… referring to them as “free” is misleading and gives opposition the “in” to correctly quote that “there is no free lunch” and “handouts to the “entitled”. The fact is that these programs are “public funded” by a citizenship that recognizes that good health & education is fundamental to a prosperous country. “PUBLIC FUNDED”

- medical/education free vs provided by the people. Public funded.


The “cons” refer to those in favor of legalizing marijuana as “Pro Drug”. We are not PRO DRUG we are pro Legalization of marijuana.

5) GENERALIZING VS SPECIFICS . Using “we” and “them” versus being specific.

The “many” get blamed for the acts of a few. 9/11 blame Islam. Iraq. Iran.

Rev Wright said - damm the usa INSTEAD BE SPECIFIC damm the corrupt American politicians & predator businesses diseased with greed.

6) PRO CHOICE not Pro Abortion

7) not government owned General Motors but “the American People” (public) supported

8) “redistribution of opportunity” not “redistribution of wealth”

9) Tax on $250,000 and above is on “net”

10) occupation not war

richwingerter's picture
richwingerter 13 years 27 weeks ago

It's not like I was in love with him to begin with, but after his actions over the two last years it will be a cold day in hell before I vote for him again. It's hard to believe that he thought that he could fight Republican tax c*ts with more . . . tax c*ts! Doesn't he know that the logical result of cutting is that eventually you have nothing?

And, it's not like this is an emergency. What would happen if they didn't get this done by New Years? Nothing. The Republicans would have had to get their budget passed and they would have had to get that through the Senate and past a presidential veto. All Obama had to do was act like a Democrat and he could have gotten middle class tax law extensions without giving away any cuts that only benefit the rich.

And they aren't even paid for! We're going to borrow the money and then pay it back. Who will pay back this money that goes to the wealthy? Everyone. Including people making minimum wage. That's right. People making minimum wage will start in a few months paying off the bonds we put out there to pay for letting super rich people have this money. Every year from now on some poor schmuck making minimum wage will be paying income tax that will literally go to pay off this debt.

Meanwhile, the real problems go unattended. When is he going to work on the trade deficit? When are we going to see, for example, an international minimum wage so that jobs stop disappearing overseas? When are we going to see an industrial policy? What about an educational policy that husbands the crafts and skills necessary for wealth-producing jobs? In short, when is Congress going to put in place policies to stop the looting of the country?

Obama clearly doesn't want my help in getting re-elected. He isn't representing me. He has made the decision that he will get his support from large corporations and the very wealthy. He doesn't need or deserve my help. I'm fine with helping elect progressives and liberals, and I can better use my time helping them compete in the next Democratic primaries, and maybe even in the general election (should they get nominated). Why should I spend my time, money and votes on people that won't go to bat for me in the clutch?

Uncle Geo's picture
Uncle Geo 13 years 27 weeks ago

Get Active!

I'm an Associate Chair of a Congressional District for Minnesota Democrats and out of almost a million people in this CD only a few hundred get up off their fat keesters and do anything. We get a couple of hundred more as an election heats up and a couple of hundred who show up in the few days before the election. Out of a million. Five one hundredths of 1%!

Grass roots groups and Progressive non-profits have similar problems. Tons of things that could be done do not get done because no one is there to do them. Even something as simple as letter writing; I see local papers with no LTEs because no one wrote any. Yet, I can't tell you how many times a day I hear someone say -on my phone, in an e-mail, on Tom's show, on other shows: "I have a great idea! Why isn't anyone doing this?".

Dude, it's because you are sitting on your butt complaining rather than doing the work it takes to make change. It is a good idea -if you feel that strongly about it -why don't you lead the effort? If not, QYB. Imagine what we could achieve if we simply doubled the number of volunteers we see? Tripled? Heck what if only a couple of thousand people (out of a million) got active? How strong would Liberals look then? Would we win? You bet your sweet bippy we would.

Tom, you ought to invite local organizers -real people, real volunteers- on your show and ask why they volunteer, what they do, what they're most proud of and how others can get involved. We have plenty of smart people rght here in the heartland and we're working hard because an American should work hard for what they believe in. And I can tell you that the friends I admire most are those who fight the good fight at my side.

lvaldean's picture
lvaldean 13 years 27 weeks ago

I am grateful I was raised in a household that watched the news every night before dinner and talked about what we saw. This was the 60's and the news wasn't pretty then but it was real news it wasn't opinion pieces, it wasn't biased too often. I am grateful that my parents never agreed, not one time, on who the next POTUS should be and so we had grand debates at the dinner table and beyond. I have always been grateful for my Texas roots (Daddy) and my Eastern sensibilities (Mom).

What do I do? Stay engaged. Vote in every single election since the day I was able to vote, even when I lived overseas; even when I knew my vote would not get my party closer to the table I still voted for my candidate. Contribute to the candidates and the programs I believe in. In my younger days I marched as well, but pre-existing conditions have stopped those activities in their tracks. What do I do? Let my money and my time talk for me. Write when I can. Educate when I can. Argue when I am able.

My problem these days is the "grassroots" organizations don't seem to be very active, not doing to much not to current. Democracy for America haven't updated their site really since 2009 that I can tell, they don't seem to be doing anything actively to move forward. Honestly, Progressive Democrats deal with a number of important issues but not the issues that are truly hitting us hard and fast, the ones that people care about such as jobs, the economy, taxes, deficit spending. If we are going to fix what is broken we have to start with fixing the Democratic Party and the message. So where is the "Grassroots" for that?

lvaldean's picture
lvaldean 13 years 27 weeks ago

I will tell you one problem, that is no one listens. At least around here. The frustration is when no one returns a call or it is business as usual.

anonrockyj's picture
anonrockyj 13 years 27 weeks ago

Its so scary what's going in our country right now & like many Progressive LiberalsI, I too wanted to believe President Obama's rhetoric about hope & change. I also know better to put anyone on a pededstal as they will always fall off. Yep, I believe you're right & that's why so many of us are so dang angry @ President Obama! The realization hit me soon after he came in office & kept a lot of the Bush people & especially, Tim Geithner!

Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt, former Senior Policy Advisor in the U.S. Department of Education, who blew the whistle in the `80s on government activities withheld from the public gave us all warning years ago that when the TWO PARTIES basically act as one & come together we're in big trouble!

I really believe we need a third party Thom!

We need the left corporate millionaires to back us;

the ones that told Obama they didn't need the tax cut!

WE can't count on the Democratic Party to change & we need to push our congress to get of Citizens United!

gomw's picture
gomw 13 years 27 weeks ago

I'm active by writing essays and passing on stories to an email group and on twitter and facebook with a link to my blog:

I pretty much agree with what anonrockyj said above.

Richard Janal's picture
Richard Janal 13 years 27 weeks ago

Obama unfortunately is "just" a politician-and probably the only one capable of

getting elected-The supreme court is crucial but perhaps what is most crucial ins that time be spent

on educating the american public--even the best politicians are only capable of responding to public viewpoints----We are an uneducated citizenry-when that changes so will the politicians those are the unpleasant facts

amailmanyouknow's picture
amailmanyouknow 13 years 27 weeks ago

I am so tired of all this. I feel like I am wasting my adult life fighting the system constantly....FINALLY we get someone in, and they stab us in the back. There was no reason for him to backhand the Democrats, absolutely NONE. The Republicans are STILL in power - they have been in power for the last two years, the Dems have gotten nothing done, couldn't get 60 votes because the REPUBLICANS are STILL running things.

I don't care if it was the "best deal they could get" - it is going to screw us. There will be no Social Security, there will be no health care, there will be no jobs. There will be debt, rich people, and poverty. In two years, Obama WILL lose, the Republicans will be the heroes because they will enable unemployment to renew "just in time" (13 month extension = convenient), and they will take over again. They will keep the tax cuts permanently,

Obama needs to go. I will never vote for that B*stard again. We have to do something to get rid of him, and revamp the party - or just make a whole NEW party. I know how much work that entails, but is it any less work than all the CR*P we've already put in getting that phony into office?

msgra 13 years 27 weeks ago


The Democrats continue to violate their voting base because we TAKE it! How many times have we been told We have to take it, WE have to Compromise because the alternative is worse And We have to reelect them so they can do it to us again because the alternative is worse! HOW is the alternative worse? $700 Billion dollars in Welfare to Bankers and Billionaires and now a Tax giveaway extension and an Inheritence tax gift on top of all the special writeoffs and exemptions the billionaires bribed congress into inserting in the Tax Code. Extending the Patriot Act! Increase Illegal warrantless wire tapping, Too Big to Fail, Continued and extended indefinately the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (yes were still at war in Iraq, don't buy the B.S.), Kept Guantanimo Bay open, etc. etc. etc. all from our protectors the Democrats!

With a majority in both houses and the White House we have to Compromise? The Republicans did not compromise the entire 8 years of the Bush Administration while the Democrats rolled over and and helped send us into 2 unethical, illegal wars based on lies. We had to compromise and TAKE it because the alternative is worse, B.S.

That is why we had the big losses in November, My whole life actually (49 years as a devout but disgusted Democrat.) The Republicans are unified in their agenda, they stay on message, and they fight for what they believe in! I think their plunderers and murderers but I have to respect them for being willing to fight the good fight and their cohesion and sticking to their principles. The Democrats are our own worst enemy. No unified agenda, contradicting messages, and no spines whatsoever, never fight the good fight, roll over and TAKE it again because "This is the best we could get and we have to compromise" B.S.

The only way to stop the Democratic politicians from continuing to sell us out now and into eternity is to stand up and say NO, we will not settle and we will NOT vote Obama and the rest of the backstabbing billionaires puppets back into office because the alternative is worse and we have to compromise because it's the best we could do and the alternative is worse.

Remember "Read my lips, no new taxes" Even the Republicans had the backbone to fire one of their own when he betrayed them and Party candidates listened and toed the party line and the result was the Republican Revolution in Congress in 1994. God forbid we should have a progressive revolution in 2016 and actually have an affective, competent and energized progressive (the Word is Liberal Damn it, we didn't even have the spines to stand up against the Republicans when they made liberal a bad word) Congress and Whitehouse.

Still, I see apologies for our traitor and coersion into voting him into office again, ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!


BERNIE SANDERS FOR PRESIDENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(any one but Obama, stop the three B's, Barack, Bankers, Billionaires.)

By the way, our economy was brought to its knee's by the Best Republican President since Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton. He and Robert Rubin repealed the Glass-Steagall Act that Regulated our banking system and kept a return to the great depression from happening for 70 years. 8 years after repeal our ecomonomy collapsed again for many of the same reasons. Add in the staggering costs of the 3 wars (Iraq, Afghanistan, Drugs (prohibition has never worked and never will and its a medical issue, not a criminal one)) and you can see why the only ones having outrageous economic growth right now is once again Wall Street (Goldman Sachs, 2nd year of record profits and record bonuses, all on the tax payers dime, "and you want unemployment and social security you wretched parasites. Your not one of us.")

New York (TheStreet) -- Banks will voluntarily reinstitute Glass-Steagall practices in response to market and capital pressures, says Kenneth Moelis, CEO of New York-based investment bank Moelis & Company.

"I don't think they will reinstitute Glass-Steagall formally, but [the] transitions in the regulatory environment, Basel III and debate over banker bonuses in Europe [will lead to] protracted pressure that will lead to voluntary Glass-Steagall separation," Moelis said at The Deal Economy conference at The New York Stock Exchange on Friday.

Much of the Glass-Steagall Act was removed in 1999, including the separation that previously existed between Wall Street investment banks, insurance companies and depository banks. Legislative changes also allowed firms to merge and trade mortgage-backed securities.

Namaimo's picture
Namaimo 13 years 27 weeks ago

Geez, Thom, you've been here, what four weeks, and you're already asking us to become "Good Germans"! Are they threatening to harm your feisty cat, Higgins?

You said recently that there aren't any liberal radio stations in D.C. Actually. there is ONE, Hallelujah, it's 89.3 FM, Pacifica Radio outlet, WPFW, that airs Amy Goodman's Democracy Now every morning (8 a.m.), and cool jazz and other progressive programming throughout the day. If you were smart, Thom, you would negociate something with WPFW so you could be heard in the Capital area. I am not affiliated with anyone, Thom (I podcast your shows), but having you LIVE on the air in the DC region would make ... Ed Schultz ... jealous. Worth it, right? {:--)

zephyrr 13 years 27 weeks ago

I appreciate this article and comment section very much. This last betrayal of Obama's has caused my final thread of trust in the man to break. But like, we have to have hope and that hope might very well be made by another huge grassroots movement such as the one that elected Obama. I personally cannot stop paying attention to news, but have had to curtail reading so much of it because it can be bad for blood pressure. It's like you described, the steps of coming to terms with a death or losing a love. So, with acceptance that we must keep on keeping on if America will survive this holocaust of greed and terrible decisions by politicians, I will continue to be active and try to step it up to interactive activism. It might be fun and might work miracles to have a group conscience working for progressive thinking. So happy you Hartmann's do what you do!

Uncle Geo's picture
Uncle Geo 13 years 27 weeks ago

I hear the calls for a third party but that's not the answer. And the complaints about the Democratic party -well the party is who shows up and if you ain't showing up you won't get heard. My point, in my post above, is that there are very few people who actually do anything at all. This will be no different if you form a third party. Remember, the party, at least on the Democratic side, is whoever shows up. You show up; you make a difference.

About 12 of my friends and I met after the 2004 elections and planned to take over the local Democratic party and force support of more liberal candidates. All of us now hold party positions (that happened quickly) and some have run for office (some even won!). It is so easy to do this -you wouldn't believe! Again, you have very little competition (see above) and bright energetic people can easily attain party positions. Heck -half the time no one wants the positions anyway! And we werent the only dissatisfied liberals in Minnesota to join up.

Some independent grass roots orgs also sprouted up, got their members to become delegates to our state convention and got them to vote for the most progressive candidates. Their delegates showed up in sufficient number that they were able to vote to actually pause the convention in the middle of balloting for the gubernatorial endorsement to allow the candidates time to make their case to this grass roots org! Their chosen candidate won the endorsement! You can do this and it's not hard. It just takes being there to do it. Croaking from the sidelines saying someone else should do this or that will get you absolutey nowhere.

A last thing: one success we had was getting Al Franken elected and he's proven to be one of the most liberal Senators we have. The only silver lining, in the otherwise dark cloud of miniscule volunteer turnout, is that you can't hardly go to any meeting or picnic without meeting the biggest movers and shakers in your state. All of us got to know Al an his wonderful family and we have his ear. If you want to speak to the ears of power, it ain't that hard.

gerald's picture
gerald 13 years 27 weeks ago

Week of December 13, 2010 (15)


Justice and fairness

You’re on your own, baby!!!

This one’s for you!!!

The conservatives say screw the Golden Rule!!!!!

We are now the land of paupers and slaves!!!!!

Reflection of the Week**

“Let us have the courage to believe in the bright future

and in a God who wills it for us – not a perfect world, but a better one.

Human hands and hearts and minds can create this better world.”

The Challenge of Peace (337)

WhatAreWeDoing's picture
WhatAreWeDoing 13 years 27 weeks ago

Why does the right win, little by little, (over 30 years), while they and the media, just keep pumping each other up until the damage is SO great that the left can never fix it fast enough?

Only after the damage is done do they express ANY criticism, basically saying, "Bush was never a conservative), but they strengthened him all while he was doing the damage....We do the opposite.

We weaken OUR guys from the get go, which makes it easier for conservative Democrats to vote against them and WITH the Republicans, further weakening the progressives, so that they can not get the good bills through, further weakening the progressives, while the public has a very short memory, (over 50% think the Sept. 2008 Wall Street meltdown happened under "President" Obama???), so they vote for Republicans, who walk in lockstep, strengthening THEIR guy, which makes it easier for ALL Republicans to vote WITH the Republican leadership, FURTHER strengthening conservatives, till the damage is even THAT much greater, and the public again votes for Democrats, who weaken OUR guys from the get go, which makes it easier for conservative Democrats to vote against them and WITH the Republicans, further weakening the progressives, which makes it easier.........

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