Is “The American Game” Rigged?

I am seldom as profoundly affected by an op-ed piece as I was by Frank Rich in Sunday’s NY Times.

What the Great Recession has crystallized is a larger syndrome that Obama tapped into during the campaign. It’s the sinking sensation that the American game is rigged — that, as the president typically put it a month after his inauguration, the system is in hock to “the interests of powerful lobbyists or the wealthiest few” who have “run Washington far too long.” He promised to smite them.

No president can do that alone, let alone in six months. To make Obama’s goal more quixotic, the ailment that he diagnosed is far bigger than Washington and often beyond politics’ domain. What disturbs Americans of all ideological persuasions is the fear that almost everything, not just government, is fixed or manipulated by some powerful hidden hand, from commercial transactions as trivial as the sales of prime concert tickets to cultural forces as pervasive as the news media.

Though President Obama was elected by appealing to the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, liberals are now marginalized on the edge. With no one farther left Obama has shifted farther right knowing we’ve no place else to go.

I understand this move to the center as a strategy, but I am left feeling unclean and used. Don’t use me to make your boyfriend jealous.

It’s not just health care that has me bugged. It’s all sorts of national security issues reaching back to policies of the Bush administration that need to be unwound.

To me liberalism is just another name for idealism. Good deeds should be rewarded. Bad deeds should be punished. Governmental rules should encourage good behavior. We continue to do the opposite.

President Obama was nominated and then elected heavily on the backs of people who feel as I do–and he himself made promises to that effect.

There is no satisfaction in this airing of my angst.

One Response to “Is “The American Game” Rigged?”

  1. Bob says:

    Funny, but I never bought into the idea–pushed mostly by Republicans–that Obama is a liberal. I saw him as a left-of-center moderate before the election, and that’s more or less the way he seems to be behaving now. And since I’m a left-of-center moderate, I’m satisfied with his progress to date.

    Sure, I’d like him to more aggressively go after the people who are lying about the consequences of universal health care. And I’d like Guantanimo closed down, and a bunch of other things. But recall that 40% of the Senate is still a bunch of knuckleheads, and you get some idea of what Obama is up against. Patience, please.

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