To help avoid the “defining downward” of progressive goals on the key issues of 2010, I thought it would be helpful to assess what would constitute activist victories and whether progressives should cheer measures short of what they are now backing.
Randy Shaw: pecifically, activists must employ what I describe in The Activist’s Handbook as the “fear and loathing” approach that has long proved necessary to get most politicians to do the right thing. Activists must make Obama fear the political repercussions of not backing progressive positions, even to the extent that the President comes to “loathe” those creating such pressures.
When Barack Obama backed a Senate health reform plan that differed radically from prior proposals, he ignored the lessons he learned as a young organizer on Chicago’s South Side. Obama once knew that it’s wrong to bypass the community’s agenda to strike a backroom deal, regardless of its superior terms. Obama also understood that failing to consult with the community disempowers the base, and discourages people from participating in future organizing campaigns.
When President Barack Obama took office, many activists and organizations saw their role as mobilizing the public support necessary to enable him to implement progressive change. After Obama’s September health care speech this strategy appeared to be working, but the President has since ignored the progressive base and taken a sharp turn to the right.
If the health care outcome shows that the U.S. Senate will not allow progressive change even with a 60-vote Democratic caucus, then what argument can the Obama team make to infrequent voters in 2010? If electing Obama and strong Democratic congressional majorities in 2008 did not bring real Change, why even bother voting?
I don’t need a phone survey or Internet poll to know that the audience was wild about Moore’s film: the audience was often so overcome with laughter, applause and sheer excitement that it often broke into massive applause, with nobody complaining about the drowning out of dialogue due to the clapping.
Obama’s desire to find a common ground was part of his attraction. This is not what most progressives find troubling. Rather, it is Obama’s reluctance to use the vast powers of the presidency to drive the enactment of his top domestic priority that many of his longtime supporters simply cannot understand.