Saturday, November 08, 2008

Making Him Do It

digby:

In the current political world, I believe that Obama and the Democrats need a strong left wing that is out there agitating in order that we can continue to build popular support and also give them a political excuse to do things that the political establishment finds too liberal. Being cheerleaders all the time, however enjoyable that is, is not going to help them. Leaving them out there with no left wing cripples them.

One of the problems for Democrats has been that there has not been an effective progressive voice pushing the edge of the envelope. Therefore, when they inevitably "go to the middle" as politicians often feel they must do, the middle become further and further right. It is my belief that one of the roles of the progressive movement is to keep pulling the politicians back to the left, which often means that we are not being publicly "supportive," in order that we really do end up in the middle instead of farther to the right than the country actually is.

I'm not an idiot and I know very well that Obama needs room to govern. A big historic victory, a village predisposed to at least give him a chance and a set of very serious crises to confront will give him that. My role is to make sure that the progressive agenda is pushed as well, and to make sure that the village knows that we are watching. I don't mind if they hate me, if they also have a healthy respect for the fact that I will stand up for what I believe in. I think this is necessary for successful politics. I don't expect to win all the time (or even most of the time) and I will be very, very supportive when the Democrats come through. But I believe that they need us to keep their feet to the fire.

In addition, we need to start the long process of making progressivism the default political identity of the young. That requires rhetoric that stands strong and takes pride in being liberal. Politicians may have to say that they "represent all the people" and give lip service to bipartisanship, but there is no reason that they should have to run from the progressive label or feel the need to kick their own base in the teeth in order to govern. That's bad for our politics in the long run.

So, everyone needs to relax a little bit about the blogosphere criticizing Obama and the Democrats. We are necessary. If all Obama has is the Villagers and the right defining what change means, then those are the parameters within which he will have to operate. He needs us to "make him do it."

1 comment:

Downes said...

Agreed.

Of course, I've been doing this my entire life. Just waiting for everyone else to catch up.