US & Canada

US elections 2010: Left-wingers' views

Voters on the left of the political spectrum explain where they stand, in an election year when news has been dominated by the rise of the Tea Party.

They also give their views on President Barack Obama's record in office so far.

Tea Party supporters explained their views in an article published last week.

Brian Prasse, 35, real estate agent, St Louis, Missouri

I voted for Barack Obama with the hope that he would be more boldly liberal. So far, I am disappointed.

I was really hoping he would be more aggressive in getting us out of Afghanistan and Iraq.

I also wish he had been more aggressive on healthcare reform - although I am glad that some healthcare reform was pushed through.

So far, however, it feels like a namby-pamby approach from this administration.

Even when the Democrats had control of the Senate, they weren't as aggressive as I would have liked.

Perhaps the president is afraid of committing political suicide. But if he alienates his core supporters, as he is doing, political suicide is a certainty.

As for the Tea Party, I don't believe they are truly about fiscal responsibility. If they were, where were they during the Bush years?

I won't be voting 100% Democrat in the mid-terms.

I have actually looked at each candidate in my area and have decided to vote Republican.

Compared to the Democrat standing, who didn't even have a high school diploma, he seems like the better candidate.

Jaume Vidal and Jerusha Burnham, 34 and 31, public health worker and NGO employee, Washington DC

For us, the mid-term elections are about the Tea Party candidates and the Obama administration.

The Obama administration has done quite a lot in the past two years, although not as much as we would have liked.

Obama has faced much sterner opposition than he anticipated, and an unwillingness from people like Nancy Pelosi to go ahead with his agenda, even when we [Democrats] had a clear majority.

His bet on the surge in Afghanistan was not the best decision. But he has succeeded in passing healthcare reform, which is good. Now we hope he can reform immigration too.

We make donations to Democratic candidates but we are also always motivated and ready to march for what we think is fair - justice, equality and overall respect for human dignity, regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation or economic status.

We recently went to the One Nation rally here in Washington to express our support for the current US administration.

We were glad to see not only large trade unions such as auto workers and school teachers there, but also youth organisations, gay rights activists, veterans for peace and the extremely diverse myriad of people, groups and ideas that make up the progressive movement today in the US.

People thought getting Barack Obama elected was the end, but it is only the beginning.

Sarah Getz, 37, university executive assistant, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I'm very progressive and when Obama was voted in, I wanted to see healthcare for all, the immediate withdrawal of troops and other significant advances.

But I recognise I am in a minority and most people are somewhere in the middle.

I like what Obama is doing so far - he's bending over backwards to work with people who have ideas that are totally contrary to his. It is slow going, but it wouldn't be going at all if he weren't willing to put aside his left-leaning views to make things work for the long-term.

For example, closing Guantanamo was one of the first things he announced, and I was really happy about that - but it hasn't actually happened yet.

It's going to be really complicated and take a long time to get those people out of there with a fair trial. I appreciate that he tried but I understand that it couldn't happen yet. Real change takes time.

Things are improving gradually. Bridges that were crumbling are finally being repaired.

The subsidised school lunches received by 50% of school children here are improving. It's little things like that which are important. This is change I can believe in.

I am hoping to go to the Rally to Restore Sanity as it feels like a circus here at the moment. A lot of people are frustrated with how hot-headed, angry and irrational others are behaving and this will give us a chance to just calm down.

Mark Walzer, 26, university research assistant, Chicago, Illinois

The big issue in these mid-terms is the frustration over the bailout of failing banks.

Our tax money was used to try to fix a situation which only happened in the first place because of risky practices by financial institutions.

On one hand there is a feeling that more government intervention is needed to prevent these risky practices, while on the other, the conservative response is that government should not interfere with free enterprise and if it all goes wrong, let the banks fail.

I'm lucky enough to have a job after the downturn but I am really concerned about the need to help people find work quickly. I know lots of talented people who are out of work.

I am not usually involved in party politics but in 2008 I did get more involved with the local Democrat Party.

Two years on, however, most liberals are frustrated with Obama.

A lot of people had high hopes and thought all the terrible things which happened under the Bush administration would just go away. But of course they haven't.

The Democrats have a bigger majority than the Republicans ever had, but the Republicans seemed to get more done. It shows that it is important that we keep our voices heard and tell politicians what we want.

I wish liberals had the energy to form their own movement like the Tea Party.

Having said that, I don't believe the Tea Party is entirely a grassroots movement - there is some corporate involvement.

Alex Becker, 20, student, Gainesville, Florida

There is a big left-wing sentiment among kids aged 18 to 22 here, so all my friends and I were very conscious of everything that happened under Bush and were optimistic about the future when Obama was elected.

Now we are really disappointed. He explicitly promised that Guantanamo Bay would be closed, then did nothing.

The administration's vow to end the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy towards gay people has now stalled and they seem a lot less adamant about rescinding it two years on.

Obama also said they would stop prosecuting cases of marijuana use for medical purposes but they seem to be prosecuting them just as aggressively as ever.

In this election, there are a lot of social issues at stake, rather than policy issues. The big division is between the Tea Party and the Democrat establishment - it is really now an issue of what direction America will go culturally.

I'll be supporting our governor, who is running as an independent candidate for the Senate. I'd like to see more independent politicians.

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