Whether highlighting the disparity of promises and policy between candidate Obama and President Obama, or calling upon the President to seize the opportunity to become an agent of change by demonstrating leadership on civil rights, or ending the Bush era tax cuts that have cost the U.S. twice the monies spent in both Iraq and Afghanistan; The Deal has advocated for a return to what Gov. Howard Dean referred to as the "Democratic wing of the Democratic Party." While party leaders, such as the former governor from Vermont, have been shown great care in avoiding dissonance within a party that holds the White House, they have done so at the cost of the Party and the citizenry.
|Support in MA for WI. photo by Ed Needham|
As a result, within the first two years of Obama's Presidency, an ineffective GOP minority managed to quickly and quietly piggy-back on a Tea Party representation of Obama as a radical Socialist from Kenya. At the mid-terms, the Dems lost the House of Representatives and took a serious hit at their Senate majority. The once promising first two years of Obama's Presidency with majorities in both houses were lost to an underwhelming approach to an economic crisis and healthcare legislation that became a win for the insurance industry with the elimination of a public option.
In both substance and style, the current administration has failed thus far in communicating and leading reform along traditional Democratic lines. The fact that a Tea Party dominated GOP may produce a conservative unpalatable to the majority of Americans, or a lackluster alternative candidate following vicious infighting, will further ensure a centrist-dominated second term for the Administration.
Thankfully, some democrats have taken a different path. Former Senator, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin has launched Progressives United, a political action committee dedicated to fighting corporate influence and upholding traditional Democratic values. Grass-roots progressive advocacy groups have also largely remained on course despite the lack of grass-tops leadership. The nationwide appreciation and acknowledgment of labor in response to thinly veiled attacks to collective bargaining in Wisconsin and Michigan demonstrates the enduring relevance of the AFL-CIO, Teamsters and the SEIU to a corporatist-leaning government. The deafening silence of the White House in both states' struggle to protect the rights of workers is a prime example of a bully pulpit wasted for want of leadership.
|Support for workers. photo by Ed Needham|
In his article in Tikkun, The Empty Pulpit: The Obama Problem, author/lawyer/advocate, Andrew Kimbrell, concludes:
"There is no immediate panacea to the “empty pulpit” problem we now face with the Obama administration. However, as we approach the next presidential election it is important, at a minimum, for progressives to challenge the president in the primaries. Not because there is a serious chance of having more progressive candidates at this time. But rather so that progressive narratives and voices so critical at this time can speak to an America that I believe is truly hungry for this vision of our society and ourselves."
That, friends, is The Deal. We couldn't agree more.