I lifted this comment, with permission, from a post over at Angry Black Lady Chronicles who has inspired me in many ways after spending some time there earlier today. This comment from Betty Cracker nails it as far as I’m concerned, I’m sure many of you will agree. (emphasis mine)
@ Insipid — I think there are several factors at play in how the “progressive left” is reacting to the most progressive president we’ve had in generations. [Note: I consider myself a progressive leftist in the sense that if I could wave a magic wand, I’d adopt a Scandinavian-flavored social-democratic style of government. I use the term in scare quotes in the opening sentence to differentiate my progressive leftism from the firebagger brand…]
Anyhoo, my sense is that a certain percentage of the firebaggers are just politically inexperienced. They probably never bothered to read Candidate Obama’s policy proposals; they were just caught up in the movement aspects of the campaign and are now shocked — shocked! — at what they perceive as the paucity of ponies. And why don’t they see the actual, honest-to-god ponies? Because they don’t know enough about history to realize change doesn’t happen overnight. They think FDR just went tada! and pulled Social Security out of his arse rather than striking deals with the devil (including the exclusion of most women and minorities) to establish the concept that this country has a stake in not allowing its seniors to starve to death, a rather radical idea at the time. Not unlike the concept President Obama established, that we have some responsibility to ensure health care for all our citizens.
Another percentage are more interested in burnishing their “more liberal than thou” cred than the dirty business of governing and the odious compromises that go along with it. They aren’t naive per se, but they see every compromise as an opportunity to focus attention on their moral superiority. I suspect a lot of our political pundits fall into this category.
And lastly, yeah, as you noted, racism comes into play too — and gender politics as well. As someone who expended a lot of pixels on the PUMA silliness during the 2008 primaries, I’ve got to say I was somewhat surprised how quickly and eagerly the disgruntled “Hillary or fuck America in the ass — hard!” contingent embraced wingnut memes about Obama as the “Affirmative Action” candidate, etc.
I was surprised and disheartened. But in the end, it turned out to be a vanishingly small subgroup. It didn’t make a dent in Obama’s electoral performance among either whites or women compared to how white candidates like John Kerry fared. And I think we (Democrats, liberals, whatever) are better off to have that shit out in the open.