What Will It Take to Bring Obama Home?

obama in oval office

Obama in Oval Office (Photo by Pete Souza)

If the disgruntled Obama supporters thought they would get everything they wanted from this White House – without lifting a finger other than to cast their ballot in the voting booth – they were sorely mistaken.  Elections are important, but are no substitute for the hard work of building movements, coalitions and institutions.  At the same time, diehard Obama supporters and apologists who say he is just one man and cannot do it alone must realize that he is not doing it alone.  He has an administration filled with intelligent, capable individuals.  Yet, Democrats have not put enough pressure on Obama, which is why we are here today.  But Democratic leaders—including progressive lawmakers and members of the Congressional Black Caucus— and groups such as MoveOn.org and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee(PCCC) are pushing back, challenging the President to reject the Republican budget agenda, and not to cut programs for low income people.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked civil rights leader A. Phillip Randolph to “go out and make me do it,” that is, make him use his power and the bully pulpit to right the wrongs and do the things they both agreed should be addressed.  That is precisely what today’s progressives must do with Obama.  They must build the infrastructure of an independent movement that supports the President when he deserves it, and pressures him out of love, like a wayward family member, when necessary.  Most of all, this movement must look toward the future, with the goal of surviving beyond an Obama administration or any other presidency.

Progressives must also craft a media narrative that places their ideals squarely in the political center, with the President having no choice but to embrace them.  Justice for union workers, a living wage and benefits, a clean environment, social safety net and fighting against wealth inequality are mainstream policies.  Triangulation is both unnecessary and counterproductive for a president who already enjoys support among moderates, who have fled the GOP in droves.  The once mainstream Republican Party is now dominated by conspiracy theorists, crackpot Birthers in the mold of Donald Trump, self-righteous religious zealots and morality police, and Neo-Confederates.  They want to turn extremism into the mainstream, and make ignorant the new smart.  It is hard to imagine finding common ground with a party whose core constituencies include hate groups.

David A. LoveFurther, the base must remind President Obama that the Republican goal is to run the economy into the ground – and his presidency with it – all for political gain.  Therefore, he has no choice but to come home.  And progressives should make it clear that if he wants a second term, he most certainly must come home in order for his supporters to come out next Election Day.  That is not to say the Obama voters will flock to a viable challenger from within or outside the Democratic Party.  Rather, many of them, demoralized and lacking in enthusiasm, simply will stay home and, by default, bestow victory upon the Republicans.  That’s what happened in the 2010 midterms, and the rest is history.

David A. Love
Black Commentator


  1. Sal-Robert Pauciello says

    In 2009, President Obama on Health Care Reform came to the table with a Half-Loaf of Bread, and came away with a Quarter-Loaf. In late 2010, he caved on the Bush Tax Cuts. In the most recent Debt/Deficit “Debate,” of 2011, he did not stand his ground on His “Balanced Approach” (Closing corporate Loopholes and gaining Tax Revenue from those who can most afford it,) taking the Republican approach that spending and debt is the most pressing issue, rather than pointing out that Jobs are what is most needed. This bill paints the Democrats into a corner (for the most part,) because it doesn’t really allow the Government to be “Spender of Last Resort” in order to create the Jobs the Millions of Americans desperately need. Everything is about CUTTING! Bill Maher pointed out that Obama needs to “Flip the Script,” go on the offensive, and specifically “not be so nice to the Republicans.” If the LOPSIDED deals that have gone through can really be spoken of as Compromises, I must not be living on the same planet—because they are anything but FAIR for the Majority of Americans. Unfortunately, the 2012 Election will once again come down to the “Lesser of Two Evils.” I may” hold my nose” and vote Obama again, only because the other party has Ideological zealots to offer that should scare the crap out of any reasonable progressive—but I feel putting pressure on the President from within the Party may be the only practical thing that is left to do. By the way, does anyone know where Grover Norquist gets his money from? This guy needs to be humbled and exposed for the charlatan that he is.

  2. says

    Once again, a well-intentioned Mainland USA commentator who does not understand Barack Obama.

    President Obama’s number one priority is to change the culture in Washington. He is from Hawai`i and assimilated to a multicultural ethos in his teens. He wants America to be more like Hawai`i and has said so many times. Is anyone listening?

    He campaigned from the center, not the left. “Justice for union workers, a living wage and benefits, a clean environment, social safety net and fighting against wealth inequality are mainstream policies,” as the commentator says. Who says he opposes any of these policies? But he does not have majority support in Congress, so nothing will get done unless there are compromises.

    Yes, progressives should apply pressure, but to do so they must build coalitions with others. Steamrollering the views of one group over another is rejected in Hawai`i because it smacks of imperialism, so the pressure must be more ethnically diverse and more fact oriented.

    A pragmatist, Obama rejects ideological approaches, especially the Social Darwinism of the Republicans. Similar to John Dewey, he wants result-oriented solutions that have been proven by experience. For more about the real Obama, read the recent book “Barack Obama, The Aloha Zen President” (Praeger 2011).

  3. Gary Corseri says

    I share commentator Joe Weinstein’s disgust when he writes in the last paragraph of his comment:

    “By the way, this 2008 Obama voter has had enough and is indeed ready to go with a ‘viable’ or even half-’viable’ Dem or independent challenger to Obama.”

    But…, I am probably older than Mr. Weinstein and my disgust with our “two-party” system (which, let’s face it, is really one big CORPORATE PARTY–even with the Koch brothers’ “Tea Party” thrown in) goes back about 20 ye ars, and for almost a decade now I’ve been advocating “purposive non-voting” (as opposed to too-lazy-to-get-off-my-ass-and-vote) as one possible antidote for sending the ruling viral Elite that “We The People” just can’t take this hocus pocusany more!

    Mr. Love has a nifty command of the English language, but does he really believe Obama has something to “come home” to? Are we to believe that Campaign Obama was the real deal, but President Obama has somehow been blind-sided by nasty Republicans springing legislative booby traps? That’s Alice-in-Wonderland thinking: if we can just find the magic formula, we’ll find our way out of the Wishing Well!

    Again, I share Mr. Weinstein’s frustration…, but anyone calling himself a “Dem” is automatically non-viable in my opinion. I’m sure there are decent Independents… but in this nefarious system, the cards are stacked against them. Just getting registered as a legit candidate in each of the states is a dauntingly expensive, time-consuming, energy-consuming, legalistic nightmare purposely designed to weed out the non-corporate true-believers.

    Home is anywhere you hang your hat, the song says; and our Demos and Rebugs have been hanging theirs in the Hell of the Permanent War State, Big Brother Surveillance, Deregulation, Outsourcing and Economic Collapse. Only the Mad Hatter is truly “at home”!

  4. Ken Bear Cole says

    So why don’t we find another canidate to challenge Obama? He has proven to be a liar & trader to the progressive movement.

  5. says

    Overall a fine analysis, with a couple of debatable points.

    First, I question the claim in the first sentence in the final paragraph, which claims that the Republican goal is to run Obama’s presidency into the ground.

    Actually, to judge by the extremism of the Congressional Republicans, they’re OK with Obama and the prospect of a second term for him.

    They know (or should know) that their extremism will just make it hard or impossible for ANY Republican presidential nominee to gain traction. But they don’t really care about Republican presidential nominees. Their extremist agenda is there to please their corporate and right-wing sponsors and safe-district know-nothing political base. And DINO Obama anyhow caves to their agenda almost as much as could an actual Republican, and with the big plus that the result gets a cloak of bipartisan endorsement.

    It’s also not clear whether Obama really has an ideological or attitudinal place that he feels in any emotional or moral sense obliged to call ‘home’. Even less is it clear that, even if he does have such a home, that he still cares much about going there.

    By the way, this 2008 Obama voter has had enough and is indeed ready to go with a ‘viable’ or even half-‘viable’ Dem or independent challenger to Obama.

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