Rise of the Loyal Opposition

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    Life in the veal cage sucks a lot.  You know that the politics of the American working family is winning politics.  You know that when Democrats stand up for the powerful principles of universal democracy, opportunity, and justice, Democrats win.  Yet, somehow “radical centrists” and Third Way Democrats seem to own the party and seem determined to sacrifice all of the 20th Century’s progressive accomplishments in order to …  well, we’re not sure what.  

    What you are absolutely certain of however, is that nobody is listening to you.  That’s life in the Veal Cage.  You’re locked away and ignored until election time, when Democrats harvest your vote, and then, right back in you go to be ignored until next harvest election.

    If, for you, the Debt Deal extorted by Republican hostage takers feels like the death knell of the American Republic, or even if you just think it’s terrible policy and politics, I have good news. You’re not alone and the time has come to change Democratic politics.  The time has come for the Rise of the Progressive Center.

    President Obama Welcomes YOUR Hatred

    Progressives and Liberals remember with passionate nostalgia, the vigorous transformation of the FDR era.  Faced, as we are today, with staggering unemployment and an economy driven to dust-bowl conditions by unrestrained Wall Street speculation, Roosevelt took on the money interests, proclaiming famously “I welcoming their hatred”.  

    It was winning politics then, but now our supposed latter day FDR, President Obama, seems incapable of holding accountable those responsible.  Instead, he, like so many other establishment Democrats, seems determined to preserve the systemic elite which destroyed the world economy and threatens to do it again.  

    Instead of seeking the hatred of the corporatist elite, establishment Democrats seek instead to make an enemy of you, the Progressive Center.  To this establishment, you are the “Professional Left”, the “Loser Left”.  This kind of “Hippie Punch” politics became Democratic doctrine with President Clinton (see Sister Soulja moment) and so it remains at the grave expense of American economic justice.  

    When President Obama entered office, commentators were united in their calls for him to declaim the left.  

    TMP Nov 5, 2008:  As Paul Krugman aptly puts it, Obama called for a progressive agenda that includes “spreading the wealth,” and McCain called him a socialist and a “re-distributor.” And the American people made their choice — resoundingly. There will be tremendous pressure on Obama to forget this.

    Establishment Democrats, among whose number we must count President Obama, see this as a winning political move.  By distancing themselves from Progressive values, they (mistakenly) believe they can garner favor with centrists and independents.

    The reason I make this point is not to create another round of carping about how disappointed we all are in the President we worked so hard to elect.  No.  Don’t fall into that trap.  There be dragons here.  Abandon hope all who enter…

    The reason I make this point is that Progressives need to see this clearly, for what it is, and accept it.  Accept the fact that whatever he might want to do “in his heart of hearts”, wherever he believes he could go, whatever this president could do given his druthers, he simply will not do it.  

    Progressives must accept that President Obama will not represent the Progressive Center unless we MAKE HIM DO IT.

    President Obama’s Favorite Story About FDR

    We all remember this:

    During the first year of the Obama administration, there was a historical anecdote that was exceedingly popular on the Left. It went something like this: amid the Great Depression, a prominent labor leader goes into the White House for a meeting with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The activist lays out an agenda of urgent changes that need to be enacted. Roosevelt responds, “You’ve convinced me. I would like to push forward these changes. Now go out and make me do it.”

    As President Obama took office, this was a heartening tale.  The vast electorate which had elected the president, we believed, could be directed towards forcing a truly progressive agenda to help overcome the devastation of 30 years of conservative hegemony.  Instead of that movement, we got a fairly prosaic and anemic organization called Organizing for America, which was overwhelmed by the Corporate Funded, FOX stoked, right wing phenom which just successfully extorted