Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Left Blues

"There are signs of a struggle within the left wing of the Democratic Party about whether it's just too soon to critisize Obama -- and if there's really anything to complain about yet."

Carol E. Lee and Nia-Malika Henderson, "Liberals voice concerns about Obama," Yahoo News, December 8, 2008.

Lot's of chatter about betraying, abandoning, ignoring the Left. Obama's cabinet appointments do give pause, but it was clear from early this summer that if victorious, Obama would govern from the center. No surprise, really.

Some of this represents the age-old problem of "governing" versus movement building or electioneering. What's the viable coalition of interests and stakeholders that will help get things done and not upset the applecart? It's a different calculus.

Add to all of this the meltdown of the economy. Not that anybody exactly knows what to do, but is now the time for something more than a big, fat stimulus package and auto bailout?

One thing I learned working for Mayor Harold Washington is that electoral victory is not the time to give up on organizing and just ask whether our candidate is doing what he or she promised. Now (or maybe after Obama is actually President) is the time for heightened organizing and policy advocacy on key issues related to energy, taxes, and peace.

Likewise, expect to hear administration spokespeople say things like, "Give us time. Things are really complicated. We're getting there."

Let's take the movement for change seriously. If nothing else, Obama will surely open the door on new issues and perspectives, like saying that the workers at Republic Window were right. When was the last time you heard a president come down on the side of workers?

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