The Fight Continues - The First 100 Days

The following was lifted from an email I sent to a friend yesterday. I've since modified it by incorporating David Brooks and Paul Krugman's columns as they clearly support my arguement that the framing wars have begun - it is a critical time and we must all continue the fight. OK here the email:

As for Obama, the expectations are high, maybe too high. But politics is a constant battle. We progressives have won a major victory for now, but there's still more to do. We'll see if Obama makes the right moves to enact change, or if the whole thing collapses either due to the DLC, pressure from the GOP, or disarray from within the Dems. Right now there is a struggle to define just what his victory means. Gerson, Rove and others are launching their attack by pointing out that Obama ran as a centrist (or even center-right?!?) or that he didn't get a clear mandate and that he can't push a progressive agenda. Others from the left are pointing to the financial meltdown and the destruction of the GOP at the polls.

Look at today's NYTimes OpEd section.

On one side you have David Brooks:

The administration of my dreams understands where the country is today. Its members know that, as Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center put it on "The NewsHour," "This was an election where the middle asserted itself." There was "no sign" of a "movement to the left."

On the other side Paul Krugman:

... Mr. Obama ran on a platform of guaranteed health care and tax breaks for the middle class, paid for with higher taxes on the affluent. John McCain denounced his opponent as a socialist and a "redistributor," but America voted for him anyway. That's a real mandate.

And indeed a good case can be made that Obama received a huge mandate, with votes from not only the traditional blue states but also Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Indiana and probably North Carolina. And as I pointed out a couple of days ago, Obama won the overwhelmingly majority of young voters.

So point 1: We need to spread the word that Obama has a clear mandate.

But we also need to foccus on the GOP - they must change. Again Krugman:

... it would be fair for the new administration to point out how conservative ideology, the belief that greed is always good, helped create this crisis. What F.D.R. said in his second inaugural address -- "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics" -- has never rung truer.

If we can get the moderates in the GOP to attack and ostracize the right-wing fanatics from their party, we can expect less political opposition to progressive legislation. It will be good for us, good for the GOP and good for the country (and the world, quite frankly).

So point 2: Send a message to the GOP that they must rid themselves of their right-wing fanatics.

On a parallel front we need to push forward the idea that Obama represents a broad coalition of progressives who supported him on the ground and with their wallets. The country must not only reject uber-free economics, but get back to supporting a strong centrist, mixed-economy where the government plays a crutial role in supporting equal opportunity. We need to revisit history and look to FDR. Again Krugman:

And right now happens to be one of those times when the converse [to greed] is also true, and good morals are good economics. Helping the neediest in a time of crisis, through expanded health and unemployment benefits, is the morally right thing to do; it's also a far more effective form of economic stimulus than cutting the capital gains tax. Providing aid to beleaguered state and local governments, so that they can sustain essential public services, is important for those who depend on those services; it's also a way to avoid job losses and limit the depth of the economy's slump.

So a serious progressive agenda -- call it a new New Deal -- isn't just economically possible, it's exactly what the economy needs.

Some have begun to point to the fact that in his first election FDR ran as a centrist, and then built the foundation of the American middle class by pushing forward a progressive agenda. Looking at Obama's voting record (besides the FISA vote) he's a true card-carrying member of the American left.

To get a sense of who Obama is, read his first book. Unlike most of our recent presidents, his world view is broad and that's because he grew up in Hawaii, Indonesia and has family in Kenya. He's the son of an academic, and just like Jenni wanted to boost lower income urbanites through activism and then through the law. But just like Jenni and all those who attend law school and study history, he realized that the only way to change things is through politics. I also think that he looked to Harold Washington, the first black mayor in Chicago, as an example. He'll try hard, but he's a pragmatist and only try to push for legislation that he knows can get through. We need to apply political pressure on him and on his opponents on the right for things to happen.

Point 3: We progressives are behind Obama's victory, we know he is a progressive. We now need and expect progressive politics.

We'll know the direction that this new administration takes within the first 100 days.

OK that was long, I'll let you know of any developments. (Actually I like what I just wrote, maybe I'll post it on the blog!)


I also encourage you to read revere's great post.

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