The Swiss-American psychiatrist and researcher Elizabeth Kubler-Ross wrote about the five stages of grief in her seminal work, On Death and Dying. She developed this over years interviewing grieving patients and people who have overcome the loss of loved ones. I read the book in my thanatology (study of death and dying) class high school. It is time to apply these stages to the loss of the Obama presidency.
The stages start with bad news that leads us to a grief spiral and denial of the reality of the loss. Bad news has come with the Obama presidency on a number of occasions. First, the President didn’t immediately end “don’t ask don’t tell” with his executive powers like Truman desegregated the military in 1948. We denied the lost by telling ourselves that it was a minor disappointment, but he’ll get back to it, right? Then Obama (and the Democratic Congress) immediately abandoned single payer health care plans with Obama giving advanced warning to the Republicans that he would even be willing to drop the “public option”. Denial continued with the thought that well, at least we got a health care bill passed.
The litany of Obama back peddling and failures to support the base grows weekly. A short list includes offshore oil drilling, the extension of the Afghan war into at least 2014, the continuation of detention centers, rendition, torture, spying, upping the ante on No Child Left Behind with the even more draconian Race to the Top and much more. At each disappointment we denied the reality of his failing presidency by making excuses for him or by blaming Republicans or Blue Dog Democrats. We each had our own excuses for the President and reached our limits at different times until we were pushed to the next stage of grieving, anger.
Now is the time to get over the denial stage and realize that Obama won’t deliver. It’s time to get angry, if you’re not there already. Anger is a high-energy stage of grief according to Kubler-Ross. We see that in the Tea Party actions and the various riots in U.S. history. It’s time to get angry and demand change. Obama will again, as he did when talking about the compromise with Republicans on tax cuts, deflect the anger of his former base and blame progressives for wanting more
“I’m as opposed to the high and tax cuts as I have been for four years,” Obama said at his press conference on the compromise. If that’s true President Obama, then why don’t you fight now when you still have a Democratic majority in Congress that wants to end the tax give away to the wealthy? If as you say, “The polls our on our sides” then why not challenge them now when the time is right? I no longer believe what you say. It’s now time to put Obama in the category we put Bush in, “Liar-in-Chief”. It’s time to push back and say, “ENOUGH”. Get angry; then take action.
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Is it time for the third stage, bargaining? No. We have already tried that. We have tried to come up with reasons for Obama’s inability to take on the Republicans. At first, many of us rightfully blamed the Republicans for their attacks on Obama and their negation of any ideas Democrats had, no matter that many of these ideas aligned with much of what the Republicans had in mind. In his press conference, Obama called the left “sanctimonious” for wanting him to stand for what they think is right and act in a way that we believe benefits most Americans.
The outcome of his tirade against the left is that we now know more clearly than ever where Obama stands and what he thinks of people who elected him. It’s time to let him go. It’s time to stop bargaining for scraps from a President who keeps dismissing and insulting us. Maybe it’s okay with Obama to work with Republicans who hate and dismiss him. We on the left, center, and Americans in general deserve better than to take the blame for the failings of this President.
Apparently, Republicans can make compromises with the President when they are getting what they want, an extension of the tax cuts for themselves and their wealthy cronies. It is time to realize that Obama is the problem, not the Republicans. Republicans will be Republicans. However, it’s time to take it to Obama and that includes telling the liar that it’s not our fault nor the fault of the Republicans when we rolls over without resistance to what the party on the right wants.
Obama is not our man. He is not a man of hope. He is a capitulator, though he says that he isn’t. As much as I thought Bill Clinton sold out with trade deals and welfare to work, I don’t remember him making grand promises and then blaming liberals when he stepped back or abandoned his promises altogether. Then again, Bill Clinton is a man with thick skin; Obama is not.
Depression is not the way to go right now when action needs to be taken. Depression is understandable, but it’s a low energy stage that leads to inaction. Get pissed if you need. Stay pissed. If you can’t get to acceptance and move on, stay angry.
Acceptance is the last stage of grief. Acceptance brings us back to our normal energy state and allows us to mentally and emotionally move on with our lives. This stage is healthy culmination of a process of grieving. With Obama, the nation has lost opportunities to improve the condition of many, to start to reduce the inequalities in our nation by pulling back on the handouts to the rich. However, that didn’t happen. One sign of the growing acceptance is the call from progressives to mount a challenge to Obama. That’s a healthy response.
I admit that I had hope in Obama. I still admire the man. He is the decent and intelligent man in the wrong time and his personality makes him a poor leader at this time in history. Obama might not understand this, but left leaning critics like me are not his enemy. Moreover, we are not zombies that will worship him no matter what he does. We expect better, and Obama hasn’t delivered.
Acceptance means admitting that the change we need won’t happen in an Obama presidency. If it does, it will not be because of Obama but through extraordinary leadership in Congress and efforts of Americans working individually and collectively. If nothing else, help a neighbor, give to a friend, and shut out the White House.
I say we give Obama what he wants and stop bothering the poor man who has it so rough being President without having the burden of dealing with needy Americans asking things of him. It’s not like he’s a public servant or anything, the poor man.
Let’s give Obama what he wants, no more donations, no more support, no more giving to Democrats unless it’s directly to a candidate that supports you, and no more helpful advice. We need to shut him out and say, No More!
Instead…Write letter of support to Bernie Sanders and Nancy Pelosi (who has redeemed herself somewhat lately) and ask them to 1) pass the middle class tax cuts only, 2) pass the unemployment extension and 3) fight Obama’s “compromise” with the Republicans.
Honorable Nancy Pelosi
235 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-0508
Honorable Bernie Sanders
332 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Find your Representative here: http://www.votesmart.org/official_congress.php