As we all know, there are few absolutes in life. Yes, water freezes at thirty-two degrees, inertia affects all objects in motion, and the Chicago Cubs will find a way to lose. But most other things are open to exceptions and nuance.
However, let’s add another axiom to that short list of truisms – there will never be a true progressive elected as president of the United States.
This may surprise those people who insist we currently have a Euro-leftist, socialist revolutionary in the White House. But in reality, Obama is at most a moderate liberal. Like Clinton before him, Obama has pushed through a few progressive ideas while maintaining a centrist agenda, with the occasional touch of conservatism thrown in.
The fact that Republicans hate both Clinton and Obama doesn’t prove that either man is far left. It verifies only that the modern GOP is so right-wing that Reagan would be derided as some hippie freak if he were still alive.
In any case, many progressives are bemoaning Obama’s first term as a failure because he hasn’t created single-payer health care and made gay marriage legal in all fifty states. This attitude confirms what many conservatives say about liberals: they are hopelessly naïve.
By its very nature, the office of president is a conservative one. A person cannot win the general election by promoting a lot of daring ideas. This is especially true right now, when millions of Americans proudly proclaim that they don’t believe in evolution.
However, even in the future — when everybody will look back in amazement and wonder at how rational adults denied climate change — there will still not be a progressive president. The liberal ideas of today will become the conservative ones of the future, and the cycle will continue.
In this respect, conservatives who say the Latino community should not look to government to solve its problems are correct. There is only so much that any president can do for a given constituency. For example, there will never be comprehensive immigration reform as long as Hispanics think Obama, or another Democrat, will simply take care of it. A pathway to citizenship will happen only when enough moderate conservatives sign on for it.
Of course, a moderate conservative is about as common as an inner-city teenage boy who is really into the music of Dan Fogelberg. But we have to remain optimistic about finding some, because there’s only so much hope we can jettison at one time.
And what of those disillusioned progressives who are threatening not to vote for Obama in November? Well, clearly that is their right. But to think that their little protest vote is going to push the country to the left is bizarre logic. If anything, just the reverse will happen.
And then they will get their hopes up again when another mild liberal runs for president. “This time,” they will say, “it’s going to be different.”