by: Rabbi Michael Lerner on January 29th, 2013 | 1 Comment »
Eli Zaretsky is one of many Tikkun Daily bloggers, and the blog posts on Tikkun Daily and articles on www.tikkun.org are all perspectives we value but do not necessarily agree with. For example, in Zaretsky’s recent blog post, “The Obama Presidency: An Assessment,” we think Zaretsky a bit more negative about Obama than we feel. On the other hand, Zaretsky reads as a good counter-balance to the wild claims of the New York Times on Jan. 22, 2013, which stated that Obama’s second inaugural speech presented a progressive worldview. What Obama did was to list a set of liberal issues, including the need for government to play a role, supporting fair treatment for immigrants, and including gay rights — causes that did not get the support they needed through most of his first four years till he started running for reelection.
There was no unifying theme or progressive vision, no critique of the role of corporations in pursuing self-interest at the expense of societal well-being, no challenge to the distorting role of big money in elections and a reiteration of the basic foreign policy that both Democrats and Republicans (but not progressives) have pursued for the past decades in which we (the United States) try to get our way and serve our economic and political agenda around the world without much sensitivity to the need, much less the human rights of others (in fact, Obama may well be remembered for having initiated an extensive use of drones and for signing on to a policy of legitimating lifetime imprisonment without trial of those suspected of being terrorists).
Neither the Times nor Zaretsky even comes close to dealing with what a spiritual progressive agenda would look like if we apply Tikkun‘s call for “The Caring Society — Caring for Each Other and Caring for the Earth,” much less our call for a New Bottom Line of love, caring, generosity, ethical and ecological sensitivity, and awe and wonder at the grandeur and mystery of the universe, to the current realities of America, global politics, and the environment. (Please check out our Spiritual Covenant with America, our Global Marshall Plan, and our Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution [ESRA] at www.spiritualprogressives.org to really understand what a Spiritual Progressive is, as opposed to a liberal like Obama or even secular progressives like Barney Frank or Bernie Sanders).
We share posts like “The Obama Presidency: An Assessment” because we think that they are views that raise significant issues in a way that you wouldn’t find elsewhere, often with the elegance and smarts that characterizes Zaretsky’s pieces and his important recent book documenting the contributions the Left has made to American history: Why America Needs a Left: A Historical Argument.
Let’s celebrate Obama and give him credit for being a president willing to stand up to the gun lobby and call for a ban on assault weapons, for forbidding health insurers from banning those with “pre-exisitng conditions,” and for bringing gay rights into the mainstream.