When government falls short of hopes


Liberals and progressives are having a tough

time of it these days. Even as President

Barack Obama continues to push for more

and more government involvement in our

lives, he’s also proving that government doesn’t always

work very well.

That has shaken the faith of many — in government.

Occupy Wall Street activist and DailyKos.com

writer Eric Stetson admits as much.

“The United States government is moving in a direction

of doing more harm than good,” he says.

“Food stamps are being cut, student loan interest

rates are being increased, the military is wasting

money in occupied territories overseas. And as if

these misplaced priorities weren’t bad enough, we

find out that the NSA has been secretly violating the

Fourth Amendment to the Constitution by collecting

the private communications data of every American,

destroying trust in the U.S. government around the

world and opening up tremendous potential for


In light of these facts, he says, must a liberal lose

his faith?

“I would like to believe in government,” he says.

“Believe me, I really would. But I’m finding it harder

these days. I would like to be able to proudly proclaim

that ‘I stand with Barack Obama. I stand with

Nancy Pelosi.’ I would like to be able to embrace the

Democratic Party’s embrace of a government that is

supposedly so squeaky-clean that it can spy on all

Americans and yet do no wrong.’

There’s a way out of this wilderness, Stetson says.

“Liberalism is the belief in the potential of government

to do good,” he contends. “When the government

isn’t living up to its potential, it needs to be

fixed. Instead of trying to persuade ourselves that

there aren’t grave problems with the current actions

and direction of the U.S. government, liberals should

be at the forefront of trying to fix it.”

He’s absolutely right. And this debate could very

well be at the heart of the 2016 presidential primary

campaign on the Democratic side.

“Welcome to the new debate on the left,” he says.

“Can we have good government in the United States

at the national level — a federal government that

does more to help the little people than to further

entrench the power of the already rich and mighty

— or is this liberal dream now out of reach?”

History will answer his question, but one thing is

clear. The left is getting a healthy dose of reality in

the failures of the Obama administration.

That’s not to say the right hasn’t seen the same

failures. The Middle East today is largely the result

of the right’s failures to see that no everyone will

choose freedom, even if they’re free to choose.

P.J. O’Rourke sums it up well: “The Democrats are

the party that says government will make you

smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on

your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says

government doesn’t work and then they get elected

and prove it.”

Liberals have been in power long enough to realize

the truth in this. They deserve our sympathy.


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