So when I hear Democrats griping and groaning and saying, well, you know, the health care plan didn’t have a public option; and I don’t know, the financial reform -- there was a provision here that I think we should have gotten better; or, you know what, yes, you ended the war in Iraq, the combat mission there, but you haven’t completely finished the Afghan war yet; or this or that or the other -- I say, folks, wake up. This is not some academic exercise. As Joe Biden put it, don’t compare us to the Almighty; compare us to the alternative. That’s what’s at stake in this election.
-President Obama DNC finance dinner 9/21/2010
Dear Mr. President,
I understand that the rich control this country. I understand that donating thousands of dollars to the Democratic Party can buy a person a seat at a table of power or at least a few minutes of your time. So when you go to fundraising dinners and make jokes and give slightly less interesting versions of your stump speech to people wearing single-use clothing that costs as much as I make in a month, I usually don't mind. But when you take an opportunity like this and use it to take a shot at those of us who are struggling just to get by, I have to admit it rubs me the wrong way. "Griping and groaning?" Do you think the people upset about losing the public option are upset because they lost a political game? Because they didn't get their way? A lot of people, even under the new Health Care legislation still can't afford insurance. We still can't afford to get sick, to miss work or to see a doctor for anything short of a true emergency. Is it "griping and groaning" to worry about what happens if I get into an accident or if one my roommates catches strep throat? Or being upset that while you compromise on financial reform, my roommate is told by her small-business owner boss that payday will have to wait a few weeks because business has been too slow? When I read your quote from this dinner, this thirty-thousand-dollar-a-plate dinner, and thought about the way I've been laughing about being rich over a $500 paycheck this week, I felt humiliated.
The tragedy of this recession isn't your low approval numbers or the enthusiasm gap among your supporters. Blaming the left for being disillusioned with your lack of progress isn't going to turn us out at the polls and it isn't going to help you get Democrats to line up in support of your agenda. Your chief of staff might call us whatever names he wants, but without the liberal wing of the Democratic party to fight for things like the public option, you'd be left compromising your tepid centrism to the far right and I don't think that would look much different than President Bush's America. Our griping and groaning is the only reason Congressional Democrats were given the supermajority they spent the last 2 years squandering. I credit your leadership with a number of the accomplishments from congress this year, but why would you berate those of us still hoping to push them to do more?
So while you might mistake our vocal disappointment for griping and groaning, maybe you should step out of the rooms full of people paying more per plate than I take home in a year and remember that all the money from all the rich people in the country can't buy you the support of your base, and it can't give you the satisfaction of actually doing right by the people you got into politics to work for. So while I appreciate your recorded message for OFA volunteers, and your request for more donations from us, I guess I just don't have $30k for dinner and listening to you mock me, my values and the people who share them.