Posted by: JanF | January 20, 2010

The Quiet Change

One year ago today, Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. His achievement was historic and his inauguration a cause for great celebration.

After the celebration, a quiet change started and that was the change from a republican administration to a Democratic administration. And that change was momentous.

The inauguration of President Obama returned a Democratic administration to power and returned the focus toward government being a positive force in people’s lives.

Where We Were

For all but 13 of the last 41 years, the government had been administered by a political party which despises government. By people who said “The worst thing you can hear is I’m from the government and I am here to help you”. By people who wanted to make government so small you could drown it in a bathtub.

The results were as one would expect. Instead of Good Government we ended up with Goodling Government.

There were many awful things that came out of the Bush administration. One that was particularly distressing to many people was finding out that the inner ranks of the government were being packed with people who hated government. This disgusting practice came to light during the hearings on the U.S. Attorney purges and particularly the testimony of Monica Goodling.

Monica Goodling is the graduate of Pat Robertson’s Regent University “Law” School who was placed in charge of hiring attorneys for the Justice Department. She was brought before the House Judiciary Committee to explain these practices:

In her opening statement to the House Judiciary Committee today, Monica Goodling – the Justice Department’s former White House Liason – admitted that she had “taken inappropriate political considerations into account” while hiring career employees at the Department.

Add to that Sara Taylor, a protégé of Karl Rove, who further described what a Goodling government looked like with this remark to the Senate Judiciary Committee:

“I took an oath to the president, and I take that oath very seriously”

One of the most frightening things about the Bush administration was the blatant abuse of the hiring process and the driving out of career civil servants who did not match the republican view of government.

Good Government and Progressive Voices

The idea of Good Government is not new.

Government should be judged by how well it meets its legitimate objectives. Good government is that which most effectively secures the rights of the people and the fruits of their labor, promotes their happiness, and does their will.

“The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the first and only legitimate object of good government.” –Thomas Jefferson

In his book “We’re Right, They’re Wrong: A Handbook for Spirited Progressives” James Carville wrote about the good things that government can do. A reviewer of that book points out that the Democrats believe in:

“the notion that government has a proper and constructive role to play in regulating business, providing basic human services, and providing a “safety net” for people who suffer misfortune as a result of economic setbacks, natural disasters, or just plain bad luck.”

From Ezra Klein:

“Republicans don’t really want to see government succeed in doing things right. Sure, when they’re running the country, they want to get the political advantages of success, if such advantages are to be had. But this desire is in tension with a desire to see government fail, to see it held up to public scorn for its incompetence and ineffectiveness. So they’re not going to go all-out to hire the absolute best people, especially if their buddies just got fired from the horse show business and need new jobs.”

From Kossack Jim W:

“We need to remember that the job of the party in power is to govern.”

From Kossack NCrissieB:

“Democrats got a decisive assist from the manifest failures of conservative Republican governance. The 2006 and 2008 elections were more a rejection of Republicans and conservatism than an embracing of Democrats or (even more so) progressivism. Voters gave Democrats the baton because Republicans could not govern well … but to keep that baton Democrats must prove we can govern well.

From Kossack BeninSC:

“’Governing,’ for Republicans, is easy, because for them it’s that government is best which governs least. Their ‘governing’ means doing whatever is necessary to prove the thesis that government never works, that it cannot work. They sabotage it, they load it down with poison pills, and when it doesn’t work or when it ‘sucks’ – indeed, when their prophecy self-fulfills – they say: ‘See? I told you so.’ By contrast, Democrats want to help, to make things better. The conflict in Congress and the political world is one side wants progress, the other side wants failure and mediocrity, and you don’t need anything remotely like a majority to promote failure and mediocrity.”

The Quiet Changes

There are some quiet changes that have taken place.

First, here is the Obama Cabinet. See if you can spot the “upgrades”.

(Apologies to those who must now re-do EMDR after seeing some of these names again)

Next, here are some headlines you would not have seen a year ago:

. Obama Administration Proposes Major Public Transportation Policy Shift to Highlight Livability

. Ken Salazar promised as the interior secretary to strike a better balance between the need for oil and gas development and the need to protect public lands in the Rocky Mountain West

. Obama Succeeding in Overhauling the FDA

. Labor moves quickly on job safety, workers’ rights

. President Obama appoints transwoman to Commerce Dept

. Obama scores well for first year on ethics, say watchdog groups

. Obama moves to curb federal secrets

. US lifts HIV/Aids immigration ban

. E.P.A. Announces Strict New Health Standards for Smog

. Obama Admin. On Track To Set Gay Appointment Record


This is why we support and vote for Democrats and why we blog on web sites whose purpose is to elect more and better Democrats.

Government can help make people’s lives better and a Democratic government that believes in Good government is a positive change.

(A version of this was originally posted on 01/20/2009 at DailyKos)