Tuesday, April 5, 2011
It is both fitting and ironic that the President doesn't really appear in his video released yesterday officially launching his 2012 campaign. The man who ran for president in 2008, Candidate Obama, has similarly not appeared in public or the oval office since his inauguration.
The video is intended to reach out to the grassroots network of progressives that handed him victory last time around. The trouble is that network is presently consumed fighting for collective bargaining rights for unions, fighting for equal rights for the GLTB community, fighting for a responsible tax policy, fighting for clean elections and stricter revolving door lobbying policies, and a whole host of issues we thought we'd have the President's back on. Instead, it is us out on a limb, waiting for the President to show us some love. It has been a very lonely couple years as the man who we saw leading a dawning of a new day, instead, stepped back and allowed for a twilight of the Bush Administration by extending the bulk of his predecessor's domestic and foreign policies.
The same day the video was released, AG Eric Holder announced Khalid Shaikh Mohammed would be tried before a military tribunal at the prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, allowing the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks to have yet another, more profound victory over the American people: the resignation of our civil liberties in the face of fear and intolerance.
Progressives are locked in heated discussion and have been for some time now. Where do we go? What do we do? What is our role in the current environment? As would be typical for Democrats, there is no consensus to be had. Some froth at the mouth at the slightest rebuke of their knight in shining armor. Some have pledged hard and fast to "Draft Dean" and "Draft Kucinich" campaigns, while the majority, presently entrenched fighting the battles they never expected to fight, let alone lead, are waiting. Waiting for what, specifically, no one seems to know.
The President will not be re-elected without the fierce loyalty and 'get out the vote' of grassroots progressives. In the end, we believe, he shall have them if only because of fear of the alternative. But it is far more effective to be fighting for a belief than fighting against one. So until then, progressives must continue to be, as AFL-CIO President, Richard Trumka put it, Obama's "troublesome ally."
Candidate Obama insisted his supporters call him out when he makes a mistake or wanders off the reservation. He has and we have. Repeatedly. Time and again with little to show for it. We may be ready to walk through hot coals for him as November '12 draws near. Until then, it is our responsibility to hold his feet to that fire. Our voices need to be as loud and compelling and more intelligent than the other side. Not a tall order? The voices must be as one. Unified and on message and on the streets. That is our challenge, our tall order. That is what will decide the next election for President of the United States.