The Campaign Must Continue
Freed of his previous political naiveté, Barack Obama kicked off his second term with a progressive call to action based on the notion that the Founding Fathers’ desire for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness didn’t extend only to rich white people. In an inaugural speech that specifically called for action on climate change, gun protections, immigration reform, equal pay, and gay rights, Obama made the point that an individual pursuit of happiness also extended to the middle class and those who benefit from the safety net.
Some political commentators and media outlets clearly noted how Obama’s second term agenda and approach is rooted in political realism and a progressive point of view forged no doubt from what his political opponents did to him from the night of his first inauguration four years ago. Other insular Beltway observers kept their blinders on and whined about a lack of inspiration as if the last four years hadn’t happened. Nonetheless, it is encouraging that the president is embarking upon the next four years as if it were a continuation of the political campaign that just delivered his second term. For in reality, the GOP and Corporate America already continue their campaigns past the presidential elections all the way through to the next midterm election, buying every race and official they need to deliver the electoral maps necessary to subvert the will of the people and continue their ATM of the federal treasury. Why shouldn’t the center-left now do the same and continue the campaign to keep the pressure on the GOP to focus on issues that benefit their constituents instead of those who write checks to them?
To that end, it is welcome news that the Obama administration will spin off its campaign effort into an ongoing issues advocacy effort, aimed at building grassroots support to counter the GOP and corporate groups formed in the aftermath of Citizens United, but to now push for a progressive agenda. Called Organizing for America, the group will be a social welfare organization set up to not only focus on local issues, but also to be the district-by-district local presence across the country to push for action on gun control, immigration reform, climate change, responsible deficit and debt reduction, and economic growth that benefits Main Street. Obama advisors have already said the group will target dozens of House GOP incumbents across the country and pressure them to act on behalf of their constituents rather than the Tea Party extremists or corporate lobbyists. Even though the GOP used its ongoing campaign efforts after the 2008 race to elect GOP governors and legislatures at the state level to deliver the House GOP gerrymandering that led to the current GOP majority, and even though pundits like Chris Matthews believe it is largely impossible for the Democrats to retake the House anytime soon, there are more than two dozen tenuous GOP seats across the country where Organized for America could make a difference.
Public opinion favors Obama's second term agenda, and the only way to achieve action in a polarized political environment is to acknowledge that your opponents sometimes are bad people, and that the campaign can never really go away.