We all know the famous story of FDR meeting with a group of liberal activists early in his term. They made an impassioned plea for their policies, and the President said, “Okay, you’ve convinced me. Now make me do it.” This must the progressive mantra for President Obama’s second term: make him do it.
While progressives celebrated in November 2008, President Obama appointed an economic and leadership team that did some good things (the Recovery Act, for example) but in many other cases undermined the promise of the 2008 campaign. And the cossacks work for the Czar.
As I have argued before, Obama is essentially a Rockefeller Republican — a noble enough tradition in American politics, but hardly one that can grapple with the problems facing the country. Progressives thus cannot expect that President Obama will fight for fairness, justice, and the middle class now that he is safely re-elected. He will be exponentially, infinitely better than the alternative, which is why I contributed to him and made phone calls on his behalf. But we should not kid ourselves. He will not fight for us unless we push him to do so.
Progressives need to fight vigorously against the Village mentality telling him to cave before Congressional Republicans, appoint Wall Street bankers to key positions, continue massive deportations and splitting up of families, violate civil liberties, and neglect the peril to the planet. That is our job.
Yesterday, The New Republic’s John Judis wrote a shrewd piece distinguishing between the electoral system, where Democrats emerged with a victory, and the pressure system, where the Right still dominates. Progressives have done amazing work over the last several years to begin to equalize the imbalance, but more work needs to be done. We will have to dig deeper, make more contributions, write more e-mails (and blog posts!), and work at building a pressure infrastructure to compete with the malefactors of great wealth who distort what remains of our democracy.
Do not trust this President. Occupy the White House.