6 Things Obama Must Do to Bring Back Disillusioned Activists

obama family brasilia

First Family visiting Brasilia (White House Photo: Pete Souza)

It’s time that liberals stop trying to scare disillusioned activists with the prospect of a Republican presidency and start trying to scare the White House and the Democratic leadership into doing something to show they are worthy of activists votes.

For starters, they need to

  • Stop using massive force, with Homeland Security collaboration, to evict peaceful Occupy protesters
  • Fire Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education and replace him with a lifetime educator.
  • Come out in favor of legalizing marijuana and releasing non-violent drug offenders
  • mark naisonFire the entire White House economic team, beginning with Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner

If they don’t do that, don’t be surprised if lots of folks who worked for Obama in 2012 either sit out the election or vote for a Third Party candidate.

Mark Naison


  1. Kim Kaufman says

    Obama needs to put some bankers in jail. Lots of them. So let’s add “replace Eric Holder” to the list.

  2. William Huie says

    I doubt that the Bankers President would work for the People, nor will he attempt to bring the activists back to the Democrats. I am actively interested in assisting and working on a Coalition Third Party, with a simple, consensus based platform, with solid ethics, thus ending the Reign of the Two Traitor Parties.

  3. Wythe Holt says

    While these items mentioned above, in the main story, are good for starters, this is NOT ENOUGH to “bring back” progressive activists like myself (actually I never supported the conservative Obama in the first place).

    There are several things which MUST be added to this list, and I list some of them, in no particular order:

    (1) Obama must make real, concrete proposals and plans (as DEMANDS to Congress) to increase taxes big time on the rich, on giant megacorporations, and other elites. DETAILED. WITH GRAPHIC SUPPORT STATEMENTS ABOUT THE WAYS THE RICH HAVE GOUGED THE REST OF US OVER THE YEARS.

    (2) Obama must repudiate all the financial and other support he has received from the rich and giant megacorporations, by verbal statements that are strong, and by returning all their contributions, retroactive to the last campaign (2008).

    (3) Obama must declare ALL foreign wars the US is participating in NOW, to be at an end IMMEDIATELY, all the troops there must be returned home immediately, all contracts the State and Defense Departments have for military contractors must be immediately cancelled, all foreign aid support for dictators and absolute monarchs (such as the Saudi royalty) must be immediately repudiated and cancelled, all military support for the regimes of those dictators and absolute monarchs must be immediately cancelled and the troops brought home, AND all military attaches and bases overseas must be brought home or given up.

    (4) Obama must show that he is genuinely for a people’s democracy at home and abroad. That means jettisoning the two-headed one-party system which runs the US — Obama must come out as an independent. That means repudiating all the influence of the wealthy, the megacorporations, the elites — Obama must come out as a genuine egalitarian progressive. That means rejecting the parts of the US Constitution which favor elites and repress democracy (which is most of the original document) — Obama must come out as a revolutionary constitutional reformer. That means actually supporting all the movements for people’s democracy that exist or have appeared around the world — the French workers’ general strikes, the strike of the people of Greece, the revolutionary democratic governments of Venezuela and Bolivia and Ecuador, the courageous people who brought us the Arab Spring, the huge numbers around the world who support “occupying” THEIR OWN SPACES AND MONEY AND ECOSPHERE — taking them away from the elites and the wealthy and the megacorporations and their toadying politicians who have grabbed them and use them for their own nefarious, profits-oriented, inequality-producing, selfish purposes — Obama must come out as an Actual Democrat.

    THEN we would see some genuine change for the better.

    In solidarity, Wythe

  4. says

    I had a long conversation with one of my former college political science professors at Cal State Fullerton – Dr. Bruce Wright — his take: “Only the last three are within his power (he tried to close Guantanamo and Congress prevented it) and one of those is simply saying something that he should support, not anything that he can do about it either unless Congress would legislate legalization.”

  5. Joe Weinstein says

    My perspective accords largely with that of the author and of commenter Marta. But what’s interesting is that some commenters live in a different universe, one where what counts is words, not deeds. They admit that their deeds will depend on what Obama will SAY and SPEECHIFY, not on what he actually has done or will do or will fight to get done.

    • says

      I agree with Joe Weinstein. On balance, Pres. Barack has been a huge disappoint. Money trumps liberal public policies in his administration. His administration spokes persons have directly and explicitly insulted progressives. Now that we are in election season he’s making a few concessions to liberals and progressive reformers. But he’s often gone against his word.
      It really worries me that we may have 4 more years of Obama, because the alternative in this 1 party duopoly is even more frightening. His track record indicates a man who is not trustworthy.
      – Gary

  6. says

    Really? You want the president and Democrats to repeal the budget for the Department of Defense?

    Because that’s what NDAA is. I know, we’ve all been told that NDAA stands for iNdefinite Detention for Americans Always, but it’s actually just the DoD budget. Some of Cheney’s friends on the Senate Armed Services Committee codified indefinite detentions that are already going on under the AUMF (Authorization for Use of Military Force) of 2001. And so far, they have received zero attention from any of the “activists” you speak of.

    I would love to see those parts of NDAA repealed, but how do you propose to get the House to agree? See, when activism runs smack against the wall of Constitutional reality it doesn’t make the president look bad, it just makes the activists look stupid.

  7. Kim says

    What a brilliantly concise article. I agree pretty much 100% with it. Obama never really campaigned as a liberal, but he certainly presented himself as a far more progressive leader than he actually is. He has bent over for the Rethuglicans so many times, I gave up counting.
    Sadly his ending 2011 with the signing of the NDAA was the final straw for me. I cannot vote for that man again.
    As a proud voter who has voted in every election since my 18th birthday, it gives me great sadness to realize that I will not be voting in the 2012 Presidential Election unless Mr. Obama makes some huge adjustments. Doubtful.
    Thank goodness for Occupy. At least I have somewhere to put that energy.

  8. Forrest Woolman says

    I don’t agree with the article or opinion above. I think President Obama needs to do the following to help bring back disgruntled campaign volunteers like me:

    1. Make daily speeches, using clear, simple language, explaining how the Republican approach to economics created the current recession.

    2. Make daily speeches, using clear, simple language, explaining how the Republican approach to economics created the current and increasing wage gap between the richest 5% and the rest of us; thus shrinking the purchasing power of American wages and increasing poverty.

    3. Make daily speeches, using clear, simple language, explaining how Republican policies do not help to create good paying jobs — and how his policies will. And how Republican policies promote damaging our environment, stripping workers’ rights, and increases risks to consumers and workers.

    4. Make daily speeches, using clear, simple language, explaining that the most of the media is controlled by wealthy economic interests; that the only true liberal media is found on no-name websites and blogs run by regular people; and that Fox News’s primary goal is to use lies and biased opinions to persuade people to unknowingly vote against their interests, while supporting issues that don’t really benefit them.

    If President Obama puts these items into action (I don’t think he will), then I will gladly give him as much of my free time as possible. Knowing me, I will probably volunteer anyway, but not with the same kind of passionate effort that I could put into his campaign.

    • Timi Burke says

      Forrest, I agree, with the addendum:

      Progressives and other members of the Left need to ALSO exercise your Steps 1-4.

      The real fight today is the steady encroachment of control over election voting by the Right-Wing Propaganda Machine (RWPM). All these smug articles about how Progressives won’t lift a finger unless x, y, & z are accomplished betray these Progressives’ Occupation of Cloud Cuckoo Land (v. Aristophanes). Take, for instance, “Close Guantanamo”. Okay, Obama tried to do that and GOP blocked funding while RWPM created hysteria over terrorists on American soil. Well, where is the counter-punch by the Left, showing the public their emotional manipulation plus another instance of Republicans blocking 2008’s Liberal Mandate? Where is that counter-punch? Oh, I see, Progressives such as this article’s author are pouting that Santa Obama hasn’t magically handed to them what is being assiduously blocked at every turn. It’s strange how they behave by refusing to engage mano a mano with the Right, instead preferring to makes insistent demands that they themselves are doing nothing to bring about.

  9. Don Duitz says

    Short and sweet article. I agree with the sentiments and getting rid of his advisors. As I see it he is trying to

    stay in power and is trying to bring the country together to get some positive work done. It’s a dirty business

    and I STILL trust that he has heart and head. We can’t get all we want but he is the man that will keep moving

    us in the “right” direction even while we have to put up with the politics.

    The alternative is frightening for anybody that dares to think and understand consequences without living in the

    fear racked offerings of the GOP.

  10. Marta says

    I’d vote for Obama again if he did just these three things
    Close Guantanamo
    Repeal NDAA
    Fire Geithner

    But I’d bet he won’t do any of them. He’s in, and not worried what we liberals think. As his former right hand man, Rahm Emanuel, said shortly after he got in office: “Fu*k the Liberals.”

    Let’s face it. Liberals are in the minority. Mainstream Democrats feel that Obama is the lesser of two evils, so he’ll probably get his second term– and act even worse than on his present term.

    And that’s how we got to the present state of in the first place– endless compromises by the Left benefit only the thugs on the right, because thugs don’t compromise, they take over as soon as they spot weakness.

    • says

      Marta is right. Obama is not, and never has been, a progressive or liberal. He’s a corporate man all the way, and disdains those who would wrest power from the corporate/money elite. He’s for retaining Social Security, to some degree, and perhaps for keeping Medicare at some lesser level, but a government that favors those who work for a living over those who play money games? Never.

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