President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, joined by Sylvia Panetta, review troops during the Armed Forces Farewell Tribute in honor of Secretary Panetta, at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Va., Feb. 8, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, joined by Sylvia Panetta, review troops during the Armed Forces Farewell Tribute in honor of Secretary Panetta, at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Va., Feb. 8, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“When I think about what it means to be a Democrat in this day and age, I start with the basic proposition that we are all created equal, that we’re all endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights,” Obama told House Democrats on Thursday at a retreat in Virginia, offering a glimpse of what’s to come in his address on Tuesday. “And my governing philosophy and my interest in public service grows out of how we make that union more perfect for more people day in and day out. And that starts with an economy that works for everybody.”Obama’s State of the Union to add details to far-reaching second-term agenda

IF YOU haven’t been following along, it’s likely impossible you can grasp let alone understand how the compromises over the Stupak Amendment and the subsequent executive order that impacted the Affordable Care Act scuttled the the foundational support I held for President Obama, Speaker Pelosi in particular, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus. What came later, in the summer of 2011, when Obama served up entitlements to get a debt ceiling deal, did the rest. It culminated in my independent stance before the 2012 election and withholding a vote for president that resulted in an unexpected learning lesson. It’s also why I’m rooting for President Obama more than I ever have before.

Progressives and liberals had many reasons to challenge President Obama, not with a primary challenge as much as to make him pledge on priorities, but no one did. In a highly traveled article that made it around the web, “The Party’s Over,” I outlined the issues of his first term that should have made any liberal blanch when thinking about where to cast their vote. That piece, along with an article I wrote for U.S. News & World Report titled Time for a Tea Party of the Left,” fully described what was required and why.

Watching the pro Obama forces, versus the third party patriots, whether it was for Rocky Anderson or Jill Stein or Virgil Goode or some other person [Roseanne Barr], and the Republican party fracturing, in a position of true ambivalence over the outcome put me in a unique position. It provided the opportunity to listen to people without needing to engage in debate or the notion I should work to change their mind. Outside partisan cheerleading, slews of people emailing me, commenters, listening to activist progressives, including the very closely connected, as well as my close associates and family, talking about how they were feeling about the election, Obama and what came next was enlightening. Truly removing myself from the presidential side of things to watch, write and wait for the inevitable, despite right-wingers’ ludicrous predictions, allowed me to disengage emotionally when other Democratic liberals could not.

The liberal inside me had no qualms about this choice, because regardless of what I felt I knew, the landscape and what had developed required a further test. Even as I teetered with leaving the Democratic party, in the end I did not, could not. For all its faults and they are legion, it is where my political heart is moored and not even the betrayals of Obama, but particularly the first female speaker of the House in history, and the so-called progressive caucus as well, could fully disengage me from this tether and for very good reasons.

This Democratic party association is based on policy priorities, which I believe are worth fighting to preserve, not the fan politics that has turned Congress into a feckless cheerleading outfit.

The third party candidate who did the best was Gary Johnson, with Jill Stein having a very poor showing. Politico has a good total board, state by state. None of the parties and politicians outside the big two parties really made a dent anywhere. Not one tallied over 1% of the vote total. A poll from Gallup revealed what became very obvious before the election.

My husband provided an example of what rank and file Democrats were feeling, because as furious as Mark had gotten with President Obama at times, nothing moved him from his mooring, fueled by blue collar rage at the Republicans, that Democrats remain the answer to Republicans by a mile. Once former President Bill Clinton made his speech at the Democratic National Convention, there was no shaking my husband’s belief in the importance of Obama having a second term. Long before Election Day I was convinced he was correct.

Now that it’s all over and President Obama is ready to give his State of the Union Address, made possible by the new coalition that stands behind him, I remain a recovering partisan, but have new awe for The System that cannot be moved or shaken much at all. I also have no interest in impeding Obama’s progress, though that certainly won’t keep me from continuing to tell it like it is. I just won’t make the case that having him at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue doesn’t matter, because of The System it does.

It’s easier now more than ever in my life to feel the fix is in, the game is rigged and no matter how hard you work to change things, it just doesn’t matter.Matt Damon

Matt Damon explains in a nutshell why it’s easier on your nerves and your happiness to care less about political inside baseball and the politicians in charge and think more about your own life’s work and happiness. Keeping your voting simple: the Supreme Court. Your own personal civil rights. Your money. Mr. Damon has found his perfect pill, because to choke on activism that changes nothing is the root to madness.

Whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, progressive, conservative or independent, the most alarming constant is that we no longer have co-equal branches of government, where Congress holds the Executive Branch accountable and political affiliation is considered secondary. This is far more important to address than putting together third parties to challenge the established elite.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court and our national judicial landscape are political minefields.

We exist in a world of political sports teams where scoring for your side matters more than anything else, which is now called “principles,” but only applies to self-interest, with independents as much a part of the problem as anyone, because they actually think being outside The System makes a difference. That’s fine as long as they know they’re not moving anything. There is a much better case to make, proven by the Tea Party, that being inside the two-party system would allow them to impact things more effectively and the progressives could sure use the numbers.

There are even signs of life on the Democratic side where drones are concerned, which has arisen because of the strong outcry by progressives, liberals, and even elite Democratic politicians, because they have activist support behind them.

The top Democrats on the Senate intelligence and judiciary panels are planning hearings to consider establishing new authorities for federal courts to oversee the use of armed drone strikes against suspected terror targets worldwide. That authority would likely be patterned after the intelligence oversight responsibilities under the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act (FISA), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the Senate Intelligence Committee’s chairwoman, told reporters. – Sens. Feinstein, Leahy push for court oversight of armed drone strikes

All of this is why I now stand writing about President Obama from a different vantage point. Not being a progressive activist, but instead simply a liberal political writer analyzing the terrain, I continue to root for progressives, who I truly believe are the best hope for a stronger Democratic party and thus a fairer, more democratic America.

The delicious desert to this is that the Republican Party is splintering further.

Senator Rand Paul will give the Tea Party response to Senator Marco Rubio’s Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union.

These are our choices and the Electoral College won’t permit anything else and this is solidified and buttressed by The System that is corporation backed.

Right now Democrats are winning and in the real world where The System rules this matters. How much depends on the numbers of people who help the progressives push the Democratic elite to do what’s right. We should all hope they succeed.

This article has been updated.